Spiritual Meaning and Medicinal Uses
An amazingly iconic and dominate specimen of Australian flora is the Eucalyptus tree or more commonly known as the Gum tree. The name Eucalyptus, being derived from Greek eu – well – kaluptos – covered, a clear reference to it’s unique flowers. The name Gum tree originated from the sap excreted from the bark that looks gum like known as manna.
It is said that returning soldiers from the wars could smell the distinctively homely scent of the gum tree before hitting land. It has been a muse for many artistic people through out history, painting picturesque scenes of Australiana using different mediums such as painting, song writing and poetry. Towering over the Australian bush-land there are more than 700 hundred species with the majority being Australian native however, their are approximately 15 species found in New Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The Koala And The Gum Tree
One of Australia’s most unique animals the Koala only eats certain types of eucalyptus eg. E.camaldulensis, River red gum; E.punctata, Grey gum; E.viminalis and the Ribbon gum just to name a few. Limiting themselves to approx. 100 species and with in that, each Koala has its own preference to which of the 100 species it will eat. With the leaves are 55 percent water and only small amounts of nutrition, its no wonder why they sleep for approximately 22 hrs. a day.
Being of the myrtle family, myrtaceae makes it related to the bottle brush and melaleuca trees cousins, some might say. The Gum tree comes in a range of sizes from trees over 60 meters to medium trees 10 meters tall to shrubs. Nearly all are evergreen and most have waxy glossy green adult leaves. With some having alternate leaves some have opposite.
Gum Tree spiritual uses and benefits
The Gum tree has very distinctive cone shaped wooden fruit known as gum nuts that open when ready or activated by fire. The gum tree flowers are also quite unique consisting of lots of fluffy stamens ranging in various colors yellow red white cream. In some species stamens enclosed in a cap known as the operculum as the flower expands the operculem breaks away eg. E. corymbia, E. eucalyptus.
The gum tree bark varies not only from species too species but also with the age of the plant with some of the most commonly known sorts being stringy bark that can be pulled off in long pieces and iron bark that is hard and rough and often gives the trunk a black color.
Gum Tree Healing And Medicinal Properties
Eucalyptus tree Oil produced predominantly by the leaves can be used for cleaning, natural insecticide, and has therapeutic and medicinal properties. Medicinally today it is used in a lot of common off the shelve products including cough and cold syrups and rubs helping relative congestion.
Used topically in ointments to relieve muscle pain due to its anti inflammatory properties and in antiseptics and anti bacterial products helping it treat boils, bacterial problems and wounds. Teas can also be made from Eucalyptus leaves help reduce fevers.
Since European settlement it has been used for timber and fire wood. It has proven to be a fast growing source of wood. Commercially it is also used for paper, furniture, wood chips, buildings and insect repellents. Some of the most cultivated species for its medicinal oil is the E. globules, E. polybractea, E. australiana and E.dives used world wide.
Spiritual And Metaphysical Properties Gum Tree
The leaves and bark have been used for its spiritual properties throughout, from modern times to the indigenous populations. For spiritual cleansing and smudging with very similar properties to white sage, it purifies cleanses and promotes good health. Also it can be used in sachets and charm bags to maintain good health and protection.
On warm days Eucalyptus groves have been known to produce a blue haze or mist this is caused from the high oil content in the leaves and vaporizing organic compounds. One of Australia’s iconic mountain ranges are named after this process, The Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Although this is a high fire danger it adds to the already majestic scenery and obvious natural beauty that can not be denied.
The Australian Indigenous population had many uses for the eucalyptus trees that decorated their natural surroundings. They used the wood and bark to make tools, spear throwers, shields, canoes, musical instruments. Leaves of certain species were soaked in water making a healing tea.
The Kulin people of Victoria made water bowls from the tree known as tarnuks. The Murray river tribes were known to use the bark to make canoes. 3 m strips of gum tree bark were cut then held over the fire so that the bark naturally curled into a canoe shape then the ends were secured with naturally made rope and a wooden cross piece was placed inside so that it would hold its shape, quite ingenious and innovative.
Once again we are left inspired by the natural world and all it has to offer. Another amazing Australian tree with so many uses and possibilities. Making us all aware of the beauty in our own back yards. © Ange Marxsen