eucalyptus oil industry is an important and colorful
part of Australia's history.
It began in 1852 in Victoria and by the turn of
the century it was well established and eucalyptus
oil was being exported to many countries. Over
the next fifty years this distinctively Australian
industry was the major supplier of eucalyptus
oil to the world markets. However, since then
Australia's market share has fallen and productions
is now only five percent of world requirements.
Happily advanced in science and technology have
improved Australia's competitive position and
prospects are bright for Australia to regain lost
which are evergreen, form about three-quarters
of the tree flora of Australia. They are often
called "gums" which is a misnomer as
the exudation from the bark is not a "gum"
but a tannin-like substance. Eucalyptus is typically
Australian although a few species have been found
in neighboring countries. The extensive plantations
in Africa, South and North America, Europe, India,
and China were planted with Australian seed.
Eucalyptus is widely distributed over the Australian
continent. They range from the dwarfed and stunted
forms called "Mallees" to the tall trees,
which grow in coastal and mountainous regions.
More than 600 species have been described by botanists
who have provided volumes of conflicting literature
on many of the species.
Eucalyptus is a valuable source of hardwood and
although the leaves of all species contain some
eucalyptus oil, less than twenty species have
enough oil to be of any commercial value, and
of these only 10 account for almost the entire
world production. As a general rule, good timber
producing eucalyptus contain very little oil and
those utilized for their oil are of little use
All eucalyptus oils are not the same. East eucalyptus
species produces an oil of different chemical
composition, and the constituents of one oil may
be completely different of that of another species.
However, eucalyptus oil from the same species
is generally remarkably constant in its constituents
and chemical composition.
Eucalyptus oils can be grouped according to their
uses into three classes, they are
oils account for only a small fraction of the
total usage, while medicinal and industrial oils
are used in about equal proportions.
The eucalyptus oil industry is an important and
colorful part of Australia's history. It can probably
claim the distinction of being the first truly
Australian primary and secondary industry, as
well as being Australia's first export. Eucalyptus
oil is one of the very few original contributions
made to the commerce of the world by the discovery
of Australia, which is in sharp contract to the
wealth of contributions made by other continents.
eucalyptus oil story began in 1788 with the arrival
of the First Fleet and Surgeon-General John White.
Within a few weeks of arriving, White recorded
in his diary the presence of olfactory oil in
the eucalyptus; the genus being named eucalyptus
by the French botanist L'Heritier in the same
year. Governor Philip sent a sample to Sir. Joseph
Banks. Surgeon-General White distilled a quart
of oil from the "Sydney Peppermint",
Eucalyptus Piperita Sm., which was found growing
on the shores of Port Jackson, where Sydney now
When the oil was tested in England, it was reported
to be "much more effective in removing all
cholicky complaints than that of the oil obtained
from the well known English peppermint, being
less pungent and more aromatic". Following
this discovery other people extracted eucalyptus
oil, including the pioneer, Dr. Officer in Tasmania,
and the pastoralist Charles Armitage, but none
of them exploited it.
Baron Ferdinand Von Meuller, the government botanist
in Victoria, encouraged Joseph Bosisto, a Victorian
pharmacist, to investigate the essential oils
of the eucalyptus for commercial use. Joseph Bosisto
was a Yorkshireman who had qualified as a pharmacist
in Leeds and London. He arrived in Adelaide in
1848 at the age of 21. In 1851 he moved to Victoria
in search of gold, but instead opened a pharmacy
in Richmond, where he build a laboratory to investigate
the chemical and medicinal properties of Australian
As a result of the collaboration with Von Meuller
the essential oil industry of Australia began
in 1852, when Bosisto commenced operations in
a small, rudely constructed still at Dandenong
Creek, Victoria, using the leaves of E. Radiata
(then known as E. Amygdalina), which grew, profusely
in the district. Bosisto soon built other distilleries
at Emerald, Menzies Creeks and Macclesfield.
Sales were to a restricted local market until
overseas interest grew sufficiently for Bosisto
to being exports to England in 1865. Messrs. Alfred
Felton and Frederick Grimwade saw the possibilities
of the trade and their form; Felton Grimwade &
Co. became the distributors of Bosisto's Oil of
Eucalyptus, which then was the only distinctively
Australian substance in the British Pharmacopoeia.
To develop the new industry, Felton, Grimwade,
Bosisto and others formed a new firm called "Eucalyptus
Mallee Company", and bought Antwerp Station
- a property on the Wimmera River, near Dimboola,
The low-growing Mallee eucalyptus was particularly
suitable for cropping, but the area was remote
and the company found unexpected difficulties
from hungry rabbits and indolent aboriginal laborers.
The enterprise was also held up for some months
by delays in the opening of the railway connecting
Melbourne and Dimboola. By June 1882, forty pounds
of oil had been produced for export to England
In 1885 the Antwerp Company was merged with Bosisto's
original business and a firm called J. Bosisto
and Co. was formed. The new company was to be
solely a manufacturer with Felton and Grimwade
and Co. undertaking distribution and all the necessary
bookkeeping and marketing.
It is difficult to be certain which was the next
species to be exploited as E. Globulus, E. Oleosa
and E. Cneorifolia were distilled for commercial
purposes in the early 1880's. Many farmers in
Tasmania were distilling E. Globulus at about
the same time. E. Cinerea was distilled in the
Goulburn district of NSW between 1880 and 1900.
There is no doubt that considerable interest was
raised in the exploitation of E. Globulus, which
ranked only second to E. Amygdalina as a commercial
Those giving larger yields of oil have superseded
practically all of these species, with the exception
of E. Globulus. The pioneer investigations of
Baker and Smith showed that other species such
as E. Polybractea, E. Australiana, and E. Dives
gave higher yields of oil of equal or better quality.
It is from these latter species that the present
day Australian commercial eucalyptus oils are
The production of eucalyptus oil in the 1880's
was often carried out by aboriginals and by former
gold miners as the goldfields became barren. It
was hard work, the virgin scrub was cut by hand
with slashers and special sickles. It was collected
and carted by wagon to the distillery where the
freshly cut leaves were dumped into vertical iron
stills set in to the ground below wagon level
for easy filling. After steam had carried over
the volatile oil the used leaves were hoisted
out by derrick and dumped on the file whose rising
column of smoke became a common landmark.
The old distilleries were somehow kept going by
pieces of wire, bits of tin, lumps of clay, and
the infinite resourcefulness of the true bush
workmen, whose ramshackle buildings were made
of hand carved posts and roofed with the branches
of nearby trees and shrubs.
Sales continued to increase with interest being
fostered through international exhibitions. Between
1854 to 1891 Bosisto's Oil of Eucalyptus was exhibited
and awarded in seventeen international exhibitions.
By the turn of the century oil was being exported
to the United Kingdom, Germany, United States,
Canada, South Africa, India, China, New Zealand
and several other counties in the Far East.
Sales were brisk following a lively promotion
campaign. Bosisto's produced an elaborate new
label and a thousand flyers attesting to the powerful
properties eucalyptus oil for
throughout the colonies and Europe. In addition
to the oil itself, Bosisto produced asthma cigarettes
of eucalyptus globules, which soon won some renown.
These could be bought with or without tobacco.
He also had a profitable line in Syrup of Red
Gum for bowel complaints, which he claimed to
be very soothing.
By 1900 Australia's eucalyptus oil industry was
well established and able to supply the world
market with substantial quantities of various
types of high-grade oils.
However, it should be pointed out that from the
very beginning oil production has been a very
primitive business. Even today in a few areas
the distillation of the foliage is still carried
out in primitive stills set here and there in
That the industry could develop and prosper until
the World War II is due greatly to one factor.
Around the turn of the century the once rich gold
fields of Victoria and New South Wales - the present
day producing regions of eucalyptus oils, started
to run out and became unprofitable.
The gold miners found themselves out of work.
This has become used to the harsh but free and
independent life in the bush and consequently
joined with the eucalyptus distillers rather than
seek employment in the cities or towns. Things
changed with World War II. The old class distillers
were gradually dying out and the younger generation
was no longer accepting the low wages and poor
living conditions that had prevailed.
By about 1950 the costs of producing eucalyptus
oil in Australia had increased so much that the
oil could no longer compete against Spanish and
Portuguese oils and Australia began loosing its
leading edge in the eucalyptus markets.
Labor cost, however, was not the only cause of
the decline. After Word War II there was a strong
demand for Australian wheat and this prompted
the drastic destruction of many tree farms containing
high quality eucalyptus species. Improved wheat
strains and modern farming machinery allowed wheat
to be grown successfully on land formerly suited
only for eucalyptus. The class-conscious prosperous
Australian wheat farmers have always looked upon
oil production as a low-grade occupation because
wheat growing appeared to be more profitable than
Australia dominated the world eucalyptus oil market
for over eighty years. Regretfully Australia's
market share declined to the point where Australia
became a net importer of eucalyptus oil. Happily
this trend is now being reversed, at least for
medicinal oils. Advances in science and technology
have been combined to modernize the oil industry.
By introducing mechanical harvesting and new distillation
equipment the cost of production has been greatly
reduced. This, together with the natural advantages
Australia has in having farms of eucalyptus with
high quality pharmaceutical oils, has given the
industry an opportunity to again become the dominant
supplier in world trade.
is impossible to obtain accurate information on
the Australian or world production, sales and
usage figures for eucalyptus oils. Even Australian
import and export statistics can be misleading.
The world consumption of eucalyptus oil is estimated
to be about 3000 metric tons per year. With today's
prices the ex-distillery value of this much crude
oil would be in excess of fifteen million dollars.
The total Australian annual production would be
less than 150 metric tons and probably in the
order of 125 metric tons for all types of oil.
By way of contrast the total Australian production
for the period 1939 to 1948 has been estimated
to have averaged 1000 metric tons per year. It
is therefore evident that the Australian industry
has declined by about 85% over the last thirty
to forty years. The position is even worse when
it is remembered that Australia once supplied
100% of the world requirements whereas we now
contribute only 5% of the total. It would appear
that we have almost managed to export the entire
eucalyptus oil industry instead of retaining and
developing this very Australian industry, which
is part of our heritage.
Because of inherent production advantages, Australia
should be in a position to increase export sales
and earnings. In addition imports should be able
to be kept at lower levels than have been recorded.
However, the international market for eucalyptus
oil is plagued with powerful market forces, which
are sometimes economic and sometimes political,
and therefore the future is always difficult to
predict with any degree of accuracy.
Many countries, which once imported eucalyptus
oil, now produce their own requirements. The major
importing counties are the United States and the
European EEC Countries. The major supplier of
these markets is China. Much of the Chinese oil
is not eucalyptus oil but a by-product from camphor
production. This oil is often called Chinese Eucalyptus
Oil or Eucalyptus Oil (so called) even by our
Bureau of Customs!
Strangely, Australia is one of the few countries
where small bottles of eucalyptus oil are sold
to the public. Other countries where eucalyptus
oil is sold as a finished product almost always
use Australian eucalyptus oil. Most eucalyptus
oil sold internationally is purchased as a raw
material for use in manufactured goods.
It would appear that practically all resellers
are more interested in the smell and color of
the oil rather than the constituents, chemical
composition or product benefits that may be derived
from a particular species of eucalyptus, providing
the oil being purchased meets the general specification
set down for eucalyptus oil.
The most important standard in the British Pharmacopoeia
is that the oil must have a minimum cineole content
of 70% if it is to be considered pharmaceutical
quality. This has lead to the position whereby
eucalyptus oil of dubious origin is often blended
with cineole containing substances from any sources
to make a concoction that the buyers find acceptable
as to cineol content, smell, color, and price.
Whether it is in the best interests of the industry
is a matter of conjecture.
Species Presently Exploited
known as "Blue Mallee" is a small mallee
type tree. It grows only in natural stands in
the districts north and northwest of Bendigo in
Victoria and in the West Wyalong area in New South
The yield of oil from the leaves and terminal
branchlets varies between 1.5% and 2.5%. Young
material is richer in oil and the time of year
also influences the yield.
The crude oil is high in cineole and usually assess
at between 80 and 88%. The absence of aliphatic
aldehydes contributes to the pleasant aroma of
the crude oil. The crude oil, which is yellow
to brown, becomes a pale straw color (rarely water
white) after refinement. This high quality medicinal
oil is now the principal pharmaceutical grade
of eucalyptus oil sold in Australia, and accounts
for over one-half of the exports.
Radiata var. Australiana
known as "narrow-leaved Peppermint",
is a medium sized tree with fibrous bark. It occurs
in extensive areas in Victoria and the south coast
districts and southern highlands of New South
Wales. The yield of oil from the leaves and terminal
branchlets averages between 3 and 3.5%. The lowest
yield, usually around 2.6% is encountered during
the winter months.
The crude oil has a cineole content of 65 to 70%
and because of the terpineol and citral constituents
of the oil it has a very refreshing aroma. The
crude oil is usually a very pale lemon color but
is colorless after refinement. Production of this
pharmaceutical grade oil has fallen as the cost
of production has become too high. The leaves
cannot be mechanically harvested in the same was
as E. Polybractea because of the steep terrain
of the natural stands.
Dives var. "C"
to the "broad-leaved Peppermint" group.
It is botanically identical to E. Dives (type)
but the oils from these otherwise identical species
have no resemblance whatsoever in chemical composition.
However, the oil from E. Dives var. "C"
and E. Australiana are practically identical in
chemical and physical characteristics. The species
grows in good stands in the Tumbarumba-Tumut-Batlow
district of New South Wales.
The yield of oil from the leaves and terminal
branchlets varies from 2 to 4% and the oil is
colorless. The oil is a good quality medicinal
known as the "broad-leaved Peppermint"
grows along the coastal ranges of New South Wales
and Victoria. Generally it is a moderate sized
tree with a grayish-brown string bark.
The yield of oil from the leaves and terminal
branchlets varies 2 to 4% with the general average
The oil of this species contains 40 to 50% of
1-peperitone and 20 to 40% of phellandrene. The
oil is used industrially for the manufacturing
of synthetic thymol and menthol.
Australiana var. "B" or E. Phellandra
known as on of the "narrow-leaved Peppermints".
It occurs extensively on the mountain ranges of
New South Wales and Victoria being especially
abundant in the Braidwood and south coast districts
of New South Wales. It is botanically identical
to E. Australiana but produces a different type
The yield of oil from the leaves and terminal
branchlets averages from 3 to 4.5% of a colorless
to pale yellow oil. The oil consists of phellandrene
(35 to 40%) and cineole (20 to 50%).
The oil has been extensively used for disinfectants,
deodorants, and many other industrial uses. It
is an excellent solvent. Production has fallen
dramatically as the selling price for this industrial
oil has been too low to justify the hard work
and high labor input required.
discovered in Tasmania in 1792 by Labillardiere
and is commonly known as the "blue gum".
No eucalyptus has received so much attention from
botanists and chemists as this species. It has
been cultivated in all parts of the world and
the eucalyptus oil from E. Globulus is the best
known and most used of all eucalyptus oils. While
is was distilled in Tasmania in 1880 it is no
longer produced in Australia, having been replaced
by higher yielding and better quality oils from
The yield of oil from the leaves and branchlets
averages from 0.75 to 1.25%. The crude oil is
a mobile liquid, normally light yellow in color,
with a pronounced odor of the volatile aldehydes,
which causes coughing, and irritation to the mucous
membranes. The cineole content is between 60 to
70% and since in many instances the properties
of the crude oil do not meet the specifications
of most pharmacopeias the oil has to be rectified
to increase the cineole content and to improve
solubility in alcohol. After refinement the oil
Because of the volume and availability of this
type of il on the world market it has become the
standard eucalyptus oil for buyers everywhere.
known as the "lemon scented gum". A
large tree often attaining a great height with
a smooth whitish pale pink bark. Readily identified
by the fragrant "citronella-like" odor
of the crushed leaves. It grows extensively in
Queensland in natural stands. However, it has
been extensively cultivated as an ornamental tree
and has been planted for commercial purposes in
The yield of oil from the leaves and terminal
branchlets from forest trees varies from 0.5 to
0.75% and from cultivated trees up to 2%.
The principal constituent of the oil is citronella
and the oil is used for industrial and perfumery
purposes. Large quantities of oil were once distilled
in Queensland but Brazil, which has extensive
plantations now produces almost all of the oil
from this species. The last report indicated that
there were five million trees of E. Citrodora
in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, being used
for oil production.
Considerable improvement has been made in recent
years in the harvesting, materials handling and
distillation of Eucalyptus Polybractea. Continued
progress would give Australia an opportunity to
regain lost export markets for medicinal eucalyptus
oil and would provide a chance to diversify farming
activities in low rainfall country areas where
the possibilities for other sources of income
Polybractea (Blue Mallee) is the major oil producing
species, which can be mechanically harvested,
and as the species is confined to Australia it
gives us an excellent cost advantage over our
Machine harvesting is now a tried and tested reality
which all of E. Polybractea being harvested in
Our method of harvesting is to use a tractor,
a specially modified tritter and a mobile still
in tandem. The tritter (which is akin to a forage
harvester) chops the mallee off just above ground
level and throws it up a chute into the mobile
still, which holds about three metric tons.
The old method was to lop of the limbs of growing
trees or use a hand axe or special sickle to cut
mallee re-growth or coppice growth, which springs
from the stumps of the felled trees. Once the
leaves had been cut they were loaded onto a vehicle,
carted to the distillery, unloaded and packed
into a distillation vat where the oil was removed.
The spent leaves were then unloaded and dumped
in a heap ready for burning. As well as being
a significant part of the cost of production,
it was very labor intensive and physically demanding
A later method was to put the leaves and twigs
into a cylindrical brick or steel vat sunk in
the ground. The vats held between two and five
metric tons of leaves and stalk. The whole operation
was relatively inefficient and labor intensive.
the mobile still is filled it is uncoupled and
a new still is attached. When two stills are filled
a second tractor tows the two stills in tandem
to the distillery. Lids are placed on the stills
and steam vats are connected to the base of the
After the steam vaporizes the oil, the vapors
are condensed in modern stainless steel condensers.
Cooling water is supplied from a nearby dam. The
mixture of oil and water is collected in a receiver
where it separates on standing as the oil being
lighter floats to the surface. The yield of oil
varies but averages about 1% of the material harvested.
The boiler is fired by timber and spent leaves
from previous batches. Hopefully technology will
soon be sufficiently advanced enough to make it
feasible to have the steam generated by solar
heat, which is available in abundance.
When the steam has carried over the oil the mobile
stills are towed out for emptying of the spent
leaves and this is done very simply and efficiently.
The whole operation has significantly reduced
the labor effort and it has been achieved at a
reasonable capital cost.
The original method was to place about 400 kg
of leaves in ships' water tanks to which water
was added. The tanks would then be heated with
wood or spent leaves from a previous distillation.
When the water boiled the steam passed through
the leaves separating the oil from the plant cells
and carried it over in a vaporous state into a
long pipe, which acted as a condenser. The pipe
was attached to the still at the top and passed
under the water of a stream or creek. The oil
and water condensed in the pipe and flowed into
a suitable receptacle where the oil floated on
the surface of the water and was collected.
of the eucalyptus oil presently produced in Australia
comes from Eucalyptus Polybractea. The major production
areas are the Inglewood and Wedderburn districts
in Victoria and near West Wyalong in New South
The Victorian industry is almost entirely based
on the use of public land, which as been under
lease from either the Department of Crown Lands
and Survey or the Forest's Commission since the
early 1900's. Some of this land has been harvested
continuously for over 60 years. It is normal to
harvest after two seasons growth or after one
year where there is young growth on trees brought
into production by rolling down and burning.
An interesting observation is that the land on
which E. Polybractea has been regularly cut has
the purest and healthiest stands of E. Polybractea.
Provided that the re-growth is properly harvested
at the right time there is no evidence of damage
to the plant. In fact, it appears that the plant
thrives under these conditions, which are not
unlike the regular burning off of the old wood,
which used to frequently occur long before white
man discovered Australia.
Fertilization of the species has been tried but
the results have not been sufficiently encouraging
economically to justify further work. In addition
as the fertilizer was applied on the surface of
the ground it tended to be utilized by weeds and
other competitors rather than by the "Blue
Mallee" which is deep rooted.
Although "Blue Mallee" is subject to
some insect and fungal attack the damage has never
been serious enough to consider the use of pesticides
to control outbreaks. There is no evidence that
native flora or fauna has suffered as a result
of eucalyptus oil production.
Those of us in the industry who are mindful of
its future are very conscious of the need for
erosion prevention. Because the land has a relatively
low rainfall and because cropping leaves the land
relatively bare, it is important to exercise care
and to take preventative measures when and where
necessary. Most erosion problems start on sloping
ground where there is a hard surface. After heavy
rain there is a runoff from these areas which
can produce a gullying hazard and carry silt into
water ways. A historical problem is that in the
old days steel-wheeled wagons were pulled along
gully tracks with the result that in wet weather
the wheel marks became water channels.
However, by sensible measures such as relocated
roadways, leaving vegetation close to creeks and
steams, not cutting leaf from bare sloping ground,
not harvesting too close to the ground thereby
always leaving some natural cover and perhaps
by contouring where necessary, erosion problems
can and are being overcome.
It has been suggested by a vocal few that the
industry should be abandoned and the land should
be allowed to revert to its natural state, whatever
that means. It is obvious those expressing this
point of view have a very simplistic attitude
toward the subject and have very little understanding
of the ramifications of their suggestions or of
the repercussions that would follow with the introduction
As already pointed out, large stands of eucalyptus
were rooted out after World War II to make room
for wheat crops and that the available area of
E. Polybractea has been depleted as a consequence.
However, this type of land clearance has been
long since ceased and there is not chance of further
"Blue Mallee" land being lost.
It is true we do not have available sufficient
"Blue Mallee" stands to dramatically
increase production. Nevertheless, there is enough
to possibly double production. After that it will
be a case of establishing plantations. Until such
time as plantations have been successfully established
the public land will be essential for the survival
of the industry.
Perhaps when private plantations have proven to
be a viable proposition it may be possible to
phase out public land, but in the meantime the
industry needs the use of public land in order
that it can foster and nurture the development
of private plantations.
advantages to be gained by the establishment of
plantations are numerous. Land would be chosen
which would allow mechanical harvesting. Seed
would be selected to grow vigorous plants, which
would give a high yield and quality of oil. Plantations
would increase leaf yield and planting’s
would be concentrated in a given area which would
reduce the cost of transportation of the leaf
to the distillery. Modern and efficient distilleries
could be strategically located to cater for a
Returns would be relatively quick for a forestry
product. Harvesting would commence after one year
and a reasonable return could be expected after
three or four years and after five years the area
planted would be in full production.
Given all these advantages why hasn’t at
least one commercial plantation been established?
The reason is that we have not had the technology
to grow the right varieties of eucalyptus for
oil production at an economic price. The capital
cost to establish a plantation is great, the problems
are innumerable and the risk of failure is very
high in low rainfall areas.
Messrs J. Bosisto and Co. with the plant of E.
macarthuri started the first pilot plantation
in September 1911 at Emerald, Victoria. This species
grows quite well from seed and the result of the
effort was quite satisfactory.
Since 1911 a number of trial plantations have
been commenced in several areas. Over many years
F. H. Faulding and Co. Ltd., Adelaide has experimented
with the cultivation of eucalypts but for one
reason or another it has never established a commercial
plantation for oil production.
In 1972 the Australian subsidiary of the giant
multinational corporation, Monsanto, looked into
the feasibility of starting a plantation of Eucalyptus
polybractea and concluded "On the basis of
the proposed size of the operation (2000 acres)
and using proven yields the income is small compared
with the money and effort expended. In addition
the "pay-back" period (14 years) is
long because of the need for staggered planting
and a long wait before harvesting full acreage."
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Ultimo,
Sydney, took a very active interest in all facets
of eucalyptus oil production for more than 80
years and it was acknowledged as the leading and
principal research institution in the industry,
until it ceased these activities in 1980. Over
the previous ten years or so, the research staff
at the Museum had looked closely at the propagation
and raising of E. polybractea and experimental
plots have been planted since 1968. G. R. Davis
and Co. near West Wyalong, New South Wales, has
also been regularly planting small areas of E.
polybractea over the last few years.
outcome of this experimentation has shown that
There are up to 1,000,000 E. polybractea seeds
per kg. Germination, under ideal conditions, varies
between 50 and 80%. Australian natives are often
difficult to grow from seed and because of the
lightness of the seed from this species no method
has yet been found whereby the seed can be planted
To obtain the best quality clones, which are known
to yield a high quantity and quality of oil, experiments
have been carried out with vegetative propagation.
However, the results from these trials have not
been satisfactory and further work will be necessary.
It is possible to raise seedlings in a nursery
from seed collected from known high yielding trees
and this is the usual way of getting stock. Planting
in jiffy pots has given the best results but they
are expensive. Cheaper paper containers have been
used with some success. However, it is hoped that
open root planting will be possible as this would
be the most economical method in the short term.
It has been shown that the more plants per acre
the higher the yield of oil. In practice it has
been found that 9,000 trees to the acre give a
good result. Yields have been in the order of
70 kg of oil per acre, but with further selection
it may be possible to boost this to 100 kg per
Even using mechanical planting equipment the cost
of raising and planting 9,000 seedlings to the
acre is expensive. Weed competition can be a problem
and a good seedbed preparation would appear to
As land suitable for E. polybractea usually has
an annual rainfall of 400 - 450mm (16 - 18")
planting out is a high-risk period. It is usual
to plant out after good rains to give the seedlings
a start. However, follow-up rains are necessary
and if no rain falls within six weeks, substantial
losses are inevitable. Because of the low annual
rainfall the planting out time is limited and
therefore it is not feasible to plant a large
acreage in any one year. Watering is not practicable
and in any event the plants do not respond too
well to watering.
The situation appears to have been reached where
useful progress has been made and taking into
account the present trial work being undertaken
particularly in Western Australia, it shouldnot
be too long before commercial plantations are
& Principal Constituents
eucalyptus oils, which are mostly used in pharmaceutical
preparations, must contain at least 70% cineole.
These oils do not contain phellandrene and must
conform to the standards set out in the various
pharmacopoeias. The trade supplies oil according
to cineole content, i.e. 70 - 75%, 80 to 85% etc.
To obtain these oils either an oil from a single
species is used or oils from two or more species
are blended. In any case it is usual to first
refine the oil. Refinement has these advantages.
The cineole content of the oil will be increased
where necessary. Residues and low boiling constituents
of objectionable odor are removed. The oils are
dehydrated which improves their keeping quality.
The color of the oil will be removed where necessary.
Eucalyptus oil from E. polybractea has these principal
constituents Eucalyptol (1,8 - cineole) (80 -
88%), p-cymene, australol (p-isopropyl phenol),
cuminal, phellandral and cryptone. On the other
hand eucalyptus oil from E. globulus has these
principal constituents Eucalyptol (1,8 - cineole)
(60 - 72%), pinene, volatile aldehydes, sequiterpenes
Oils from other species of eucalypts have equally
different constituents and therefore it is desirable
to select for a particular use the type of oil
with the best combination of constituents.
eucalyptus oil produced from E. polybractea is
widely used for the relief of cold and influenza
symptoms. It is a unique natural product having
antiseptic properties and the power to clear the
nasal passages and bronchial tubes making it easier
to breathe. A popular new use is to vaporize it
in saunas. It is an excellent rub for muscular
aches and pains and it has been widely used for
many years by sportsmen to help keep muscles trim
and supple. A use, which is gaining widespread
acceptance, is the practice of adding eucalyptus
oil to the laundry wash for cleaning and freshening
clothes, which utilizes its cleaning, deodorizing
and antiseptic properties.
Medicinal eucalyptus oils and eucalyptol are extensively
used as a raw material and active ingredient of
cough lozenges, inhalation sprays and drops, gargles,
mouth washes, toothpastes, embrocation balms and
ointments, liniments and soaps.
Eucalyptus oil is also used in antiseptics and
germicidal disinfectants because of its pleasant
odor and its effectiveness in killing bacteria.
It is an excellent solvent, which makes it an
ideal spot and stain remover.
Industrial eucalyptus oils are used in the manufacture
of household disinfectants and as an industrial
The spent leaves after the eucalyptus oil has
been extracted are marketed as a mulch and ground
cover. Sold under the trade-name Bosisto's Euca-Mulch,
it is gaining rapid acceptance by landscape and
home gardeners who like its natural appearance
and bush land fragrance.
While the mulch is especially suitable for native
gardens, it looks equally at home under shade,
ornamental and fruit trees and in shrub and flowerbeds.
The mulch meets all the criteria of a first-class
mulch and ground cover. It is week and insect
free and is non-toxic to animals and plants. It
suppresses weed growth and reduces the need for
watering. It allows excellent drainage, aeration
and water penetration under all conditions. It
stays in place even in very high winds and normal
leaf-fall adds to its attractiveness. After 2
or 3 years it breaks down into an organic humus.
Tested by the Department of Agriculture and found
to be satisfactory more work is being undertaken,
as it is believed the spent leaves could be an
ideal addition to potting mixes.