Posted by Bangzkie Thursday, February 23, 2012
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees (and a few shrubs) in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia. There are more than 700 species of Eucalyptus, mostly native to Australia, and a very small number are found in adjacent areas of New Guinea and Indonesia and one, Eucalyptus deglupta, ranges north to the Philippines. Only 15 species occur outside Australia, and only 9 do not occur in Australia. Species of Eucalyptus are cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics including the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, China and the Indian Subcontinent.Eucalyptus is one of three similar genera that are commonly referred to as "eucalypts," the others being Corymbia and Angophora. Many, but far from all, are known as gum trees because many species exude copious sap from any break in the bark
Some Eucalyptus species have attracted attention from global development researchers and environmentalists. Such species have desirable traits such as being fast-growing sources of wood, producing oil that can be used for cleaning and functions as a natural insecticide, or an ability to be used to drain swamps and thereby reduce the risk of malaria. Outside their natural ranges, eucalypts are both lauded for their beneficial economic impact on poor populationsand criticised for being "invasive water-suckers",leading to controversy over their total impact.
Eucalyptus was first introduced from Australia to the rest of the world by Sir Joseph Banks, botanist, on the Cook expedition in 1770. It was subsequently introduced to many parts of the world, notably California, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Ethiopia, Morocco, Portugal, South Africa, Uganda, Israel, Galicia and Chile. In Portugal and also Spain, eucalypts have been planted in pulpwood plantations. Eucalyptus are the basis for several industries, such as sawmilling, pulp, charcoal and others. Several species have become invasive and are causing major problems for local ecosystems, mainly due to the absence of wildlife corridors and rotations management. Eucalypts have many uses which have made them economically important trees, and have become a cash crop in poor areas such as Timbuktu, Africa and the Peruvian Andes, despite concerns that the trees are invasive in some countries like South Africa. Best-known are perhaps the varieties Karri and Yellow box. Due to their fast growth, the foremost benefit of these trees is their wood. They can be chopped off at the root and grow back again. They provide many desirable characteristics for use as ornament, timber, firewood and pulpwood. It is also used in a number of industries, from fence posts and charcoal to cellulose extraction for biofuels. Fast growth also makes eucalypts suitable as windbreaks and to reduce erosion.