Botanical Buzz | Eucalypt at the end of the rainbow. New home among the gum trees?

AMAZING: The rainbow gum grows, north of the equator, in the Philippines, New Guinea, and Indonesia.  Photo: CONTRIBUTED

AMAZING: The rainbow gum grows, north of the equator, in the Philippines, New Guinea, and Indonesia. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Expatriate Aussies are said to have bouts of chronic homesickness on sight of a Eucalypt in a foreign land. Such a fond emotion. However many Aussies on their home turf are quick to denigrate the hapless Gum Tree as a nuisance year-round leaf shedder with the propensity to drop a heavy limb our way for added good measure.

It is also said a prophet in his home town is bound for ridicule, so maybe we need to define where home is after all. And whoever thought our gum trees could be a prophet for future, wider understanding between nations?

You see, while we might say, “Oh, hang on, wait a minute, isn’t that a gum tree?”.  A chappie from the Philippines may say, “Sandali lang,” and continue with the Tagalog language version of, “isn’t that a rainbow gum?”

Of course their chances of seeing a rainbow gum (eucalyptus deglupta) in Aussie are strictly limited, especially in Dubbo. However if you hang about a bit longer in Dubbo there are chances you may see this very decorative eucalypt. If we can procure seeds for a few trees the project is well within the scope of research on a botanic gardens agenda. All that’s needed is a protected microclimate to satisfy the plant’s needs. Elizabeth Park, Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden is a likely test base.

And why bother? You may well ask. This eucalypt is the only one to be found naturally in the northern hemisphere. That’s right, up north of the equator. It occurs naturally on Mindanao (Philippines), New Britain (off east coast of New Guinea), and Sulawesi (Indonesia). And that is all very nice but we may still ask, what is the big deal? It boils down to the looks. Today people are very visually inclined and if you saw a photo of the rainbow eucalyptus you may be tempted to say, “Great job of ‘Photoshop’.  Yes, hard to believe, but this tree is so named because its trunk has colours of light green, fiery orange, china blue, creamy yellow, and white over a general streak of gun metal grey. It also has the potential to grow 60 metres high. A bit of a surprise all this, isn’t it? If gum trees grow naturally in the Philippines, maybe we should regard ourselves more a part of Asia.