It’s hard not to get a whiff of the eucalyptus tree when you travel around Australia. The tough long and narrow green leaves, smooth pale bark, and creamy white flowers make this member of the Myrtaceae family a natural beauty with an unmistakable aroma. Some locals call it the tree with many names, especially when the conversation turns to eucalyptus oil in mythology.
This Australian Blue-gum tree can grow to over 300 feet, which makes it one of the highest trees in the world. The people of Tasmania called it the ‘Tasmania blue gum,’ and Europeans named it ‘eu,’ and ‘kalypto,’ or eucalyptus, which means which means ‘well’ and ‘covered’ in Greek. Those syllables refer to the cup-like membrane that covers the flower, and then gets thrown off naturally as the flower expands.
The story of eucalyptus is mostly unwritten, unless you consider the etchings on cave walls that are well over 30,000 years old. The aborigines called this servant of nature ‘kino’ because they use the oil to cover serious wounds. But the leaves and flowers were also used to clear the chest and sooth tired muscles after a kangaroo hunt in the outback. Women would steam the leaves and flowers and collect the oil in handmade jars that could be carried from place to place in case there was an emergency.
The aborigines started to plant eucalyptus in swampy areas in order to clear water-logged land that attracted mosquitoes and malaria. Eucalyptus trees like to drink a lot of water. Perhaps that’s the reason that koala bears never drink anything during their lifespan. Eucalyptus tree planting caught on over the years, so water-logged stripes of lane became eucalyptus groves. Seventy percent of the trees in Australia are eucalyptus trees thanks to their enormous appetite for water.
Europeans Associated Eucalyptus Oil With A Familiar Oil
The wood was also a critical part of the eucalyptus love affair. Homes, ships, railroad ties, fences, telephone poles, and interior home finishes in Australia were made using eucalyptus wood.
Europe didn’t discover eucalyptus until 1788. The first oil exported to England was called ‘Sydney Peppermint.’ That oil was industrialized oil, so it was not used for medicinal purposes until the chemical compounds were revealed during research in the mid-19th century. Once eucalyptus essential oil was introduced to other countries in Europe it became a sought after commodity not only for its disinfectant qualities, but for its medicinal value as well.
A young English pharmacist who moved to Australia in 1788 to find gold was actually the first person to market eucalyptus commercially. His company was responsible for developing pure eucalyptus oil that could clear a congested chest in vapor form, and heal painful muscles and skin wounds when it was applied to the wound or massaged into the muscles. The aroma of this ancient oil was also part of the mystique that made it a 20th century essential oil star.
Gardeners wanted the branches, and floral arrangers had to use them as accent pieces, so eucalyptus trees were planted all over the world using seeds from Australian species. South Africa, Germany, England, India, South America, Canada, and the US became eucalyptus lovers and that love affair keeps getting stronger.
Eucalyptus is Associated with Healing, Knowledge, and Good Luck
Today, the leaves, wood and oil of the eucalyptus tree are associated with good luck, especially in matters of knowledge such as success in academic studies. Some people wear charms fashioned of eucalyptus wood to bring success on exams, interviews and other related challenges. Eucalyptus essential oil is sometimes used in magic rituals to bring good fortune in these areas, or alternatively, for divination.
In magical practice, the eucalyptus tree is associated with the healing feminine and with the Element of Earth. Based on pure eucalyptus oil’s healing properties, it is considered to have a bright, clean aura and to be as uplifting to the spirit as it is healing to the body.