Avoid planting a tree species that’s not well suited for your yard. Knowing the pros and cons of eucalyptus tree species will help you make informed decisions about what to plant in your yard.
72tree.com gathered the following information, pros, and cons of eucalyptus trees and how they affect their surroundings.
Eucalyptus globulus Labill is an evergreen aromatic tree in the Myrtle Family (Myrtaceae). This tree species commonly reaches 150 to 180 feet in height and has a diameter of 4-7 feet. This tree has a straight trunk up to two-thirds of its total height and boasts a well-developed crown.
Eucalyptus Tree Foliage
Eucalyptus tree species are evergreens. Unlike other northern hemisphere trees that are deciduous in harsh fall and winter periods, eucalypts have leaves all year. These trees are described as ‘sclerophylls,’ meaning ‘hard-leaved.’ The species’ leaves are thick, leathery, and tough due to lignin and do not easily wilt. When eucalyptus trees are used for privacy screening, this attribute is their greatest pro.
Eucalyptus Tree Stands
A properly functioning watershed has a forest or tree stand with three canopy levels; a lower (understory), middle (middle story), and top or (overstory). With all three canopy levels, the trees can better trap water by slowing rainfall, trapping mist from the air on leaves, which drips into the soil and naturally replenishes the water table below. However, when the stand or forest is composed of eucalyptus, there will only be an overstory canopy level, and the ground will be practically devoid of understory trees and plants.
The leaves and roots of eucalyptus trees inhibit other plants from growing under them due to naturally-occurring chemicals. Having no middle or lower canopies causes soil to easily dislodge and wash downslope through streams and rivers, which can rapidly increase land and soil erosion.
Note: Many plants produce compounds that will inhibit or stop the growth of nearby plants to better compete for nutrients, sunlight, and other vital resources. This is known as allelopathy, and black walnut, maple, pine, and eucalyptus species are some of the better-known examples of tree species that employ this. Allelopathy is a severe con to planting eucalyptus trees on your property.
Invasive Eucalyptus Roots
Since a eucalyptus tree’s lateral roots spread up to 100 feet outward, they are known to grow into ditches, plumbing pipes, and septic tanks, damaging, clogging, and cracking them. In fact, eucalyptus roots penetrating or lifting foundations is a common complaint when this species is planted too close to a home.
If you choose to plant eucalyptus trees, you can limit or prevent some of the dangers associated with its shallow root system by placing root barriers and with proper planting and maintenance. Plant eucalyptus trees so the distance away from utilities, structures, driveways, sidewalks, and roadways is equal to two-thirds the potential mature height of the tree.
Note: Eucalyptus roots will typically encroach on a structure’s foundation only when there is an active water source like a burst pipe or poorly connected drain. This attribute of the eucalyptus species is a severe disadvantage to its planting.
Eucalyptus Tree Dangers
While there are many attractive advantages to the eucalyptus species, there are some downright terrifying disadvantages to having the species anywhere near your property. Consider these eucalyptus species’ cons:
Water – Eucalyptus trees have a terrible reputation as extensive water users and significant contributors to soil depletion. While they do need copious quantities of water, their colossal taproot can find moisture even in the most barren areas. This voracious appetite helps maintain their incredibly rapid growth.
Toxicity – Some homeowners place eucalyptus leaves around their homes for their aroma or will plant eucalyptus in their landscapes. However, eucalyptus plant foliage is toxic to animals and humans if ingested.
Toppling – Eucalyptus trees are prone to falling because of their shallow spreading roots that don’t do an efficient job of anchoring or steadying the tree in loose soil or when an external force places overwhelming pressure against the trunk and branches.
Exploding – Eucalyptus oil gives off flammable fumes, and these fumes can be ignited by lightning, flying sparks, and cinders, causing the tree to explode.
Fireballs – During brush or forest fires, the eucalyptus species releases great quantities of flammable gas that mix with air to produce fireballs full of sparks and embers exploding out in front of the fire.
Note: According to North Carolina State University, eucalyptus foliage and bark are considered poisonous in large amounts. If too much is ingested, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can result.
Eucalyptus Tree Uses
Knowing the dangers posed by growing eucalyptus trees, it is difficult to believe that anything good can come from this species. Consider the following (surprising) benefits:
• Eucalyptus oil Is naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal • Eucalyptus vapors can decrease and clear mucus • Eucalyptus is used for household cleaning • Eucalyptus soothes and refreshes dry skin on contact • Eucalyptus is an efficient insect repellant
Note: Topically applied, eucalyptus can offer you a break from everyday aches and pains.
Eucalyptus Trees Species Pros and Cons
In this article, you discovered essential information, pros, cons, and unusual species traits for the incredibly robust eucalyptus tree species.
Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of planting a eucalyptus tree on your property will help you make informed decisions about planting distances and tree safety.
Planting a eucalyptus tree without knowing how to care and its potential for invasive roots can unintentionally cause costly damages to your property.
3 Evergreen Tree Species for Your Alpharetta and Roswell Yard
The difference between evergreen trees and deciduous trees becomes very obvious in the fall. Evergreens stay green and keep their foliage, while deciduous trees typically change the color of their leaves before dropping them and going dormant.
Evergreen trees do drop foliage, just not all at once. Throughout the year, they will drop small portions of their foliage and grow it back. These trees do not experience a dormant period like their deciduous counterparts, but they do slow down in the winter months.
For those with an aversion to raking up leaves in the fall, the arborist at 72tree.com identified 3 evergreen tree species to enhance your Alpharetta and Roswell Ga landscape.
Of the North American native tree species, pine trees are one of the most widely spread and varied classes. Because of their ability to adapt and the ease to care for them, pines remain very popular landscaping trees from coast to coast.
Height – Within the pine family, some of the species can reach an astounding 150 feet tall and live to be more than 450 years old.
Crown Width – Mature pine tree canopies can stretch from 15 t0 30 feet in diameter depending on the species and the environment it is planted in.
DBH – When pines such as these reach maturity, their trunk DBH (diameter at breast height) can measure from 2.5 to 4 feet. As with most trees, there is just as much happening below ground.
Root System – As pines develop an extensive, deep, expansive, and invasive root system, they should not be planted within 20 feet of permanent structures like fences, underground utility lines, or homes.
Pest Problems – Bark beetles, aphids, and bagworms are a few of the pests that enjoy making a meal of pine trees. Mites and tree scale are also likely.
Disease – Some of the more common diseases that affect pine trees are needlecast, root rot, and pine wilt.
Pesticides and fungicides can be used to curb the progress of these pests and diseases. However, in cases of severe infestation and infection, an arborist should be called to evaluate the tree and what actions should be taken (including the tree’s removal if necessary).
This classic Southern beauty (magnolia grandiflora) is very distinctive with its wide glossy leaves and enormous fragrant white blossoms. When it comes to year-round beauty, there are few trees that can keep up with it.
Its full luxurious look has made it a popular ornamental around the world.
This tree, although evergreen will drop leaves throughout the year. Growing anything beneath this tree (including grass) is difficult due to its dense foliage casting full shade and its shallow roots.
Height – A magnolia tree planted in a location with rich soil, little to no obstacles for the root system, and good soil drainage can reach heights of more than 80 feet.
Crown Width – While this tree possesses a pyramidal to rounded crown at the top, its width can reach 30 to 40 feet at the base and mid section.
DBH – Adult magnolias can reach a DBH of 24 to 36 inches. To reach this size takes anywhere from 80 to 100 years.
Root System – The species itself is a deep rooted one. First to develop is a strong tap root, then as the tree grows, many sunken roots will grow down from the root collar, and as the tree ages, major lateral roots will grow. When planted in areas with a high water table, the roots will grow more shallow and outward.
The optimum soil for this species is a rich, well drained, and slightly acidic one. When planting a magnolia, add generous amounts of organic material to the soil for the best growing conditions.
Although magnolia roots are not considered invasive, when planted too close to sidewalks or foundations, they will eventually cause undesired cracking and buckling.
Pest Problems – Varieties of scale, aphids, striped mealybug, spider mites, and magnolia leafminers are all potential infestation culprits.
Disease – There are a number of fungi which cause leaf spots. For the most part, they are unable to cause any significant damage to adult magnolias.
As well, there are a number of Polyporus fungi and Fomes which can cause heart rot.
Again, pesticides and fungicides can be used to curb the progress of these pests and diseases. When a severe infestation or infection is detected, an arborist should be called to assess what actions should be taken.
Of all of the evergreen trees you could want in your yard, eucalyptus should be at or near the top of the list. This species is a fast growing, insect repelling, and gorgeous tree that adds beauty and practicality to whatever landscape it grows in.
For most, the image you get when you hear “eucalyptus” is a koala bear latched on to a branch, munching away at the leaves. You may be surprised to learn that only the koala, some possum species, and a select few insects are actually able to consume parts of this species. In large quantities, this tree’s secret weapon (cineole) is toxic.
It is the cineole aka: eucalyptol in eucalyptus trees that make up the greatest part of its signature aroma. Eucalyptus essential oil has been used for centuries in the treatment of respiratory ailments, as a disinfectant, and as an antibacterial or anti-fungal agent in medicine.
Height – Eucalyptus tree sizes vary. Their height at maturity can range from 30 to 35 feet for smaller varieties all the way to over 200 feet for the tallest of the species.
These trees must be planted away from physical structures. Mature eucalyptus trees are known to unexpectedly drop branches.
Crown Width – The eucalyptus tree species will typically grow tall and relatively slender, with mature crowns reaching from 12 to 30 feet in diameter. Many varieties of the species are able to reach much greater diameters as they age.
DBH – Adult eucalyptus trees can reach a DBH of 15 to 20 inches.
It is worth mentioning that this species is able to reach maturity within 10 years of growth. That’s less than half (in some cases less than a third) of the time it takes for the majority of other species to reach maturity.
Root System – This species quickly adapts to the soil it is planted in. In rich, fertile soil, the roots have no need to go deep. The tree is on a fast track for height and the roots will spread horizontally staying close to the surface.
In more nutrient deprived soil, the roots will dive deep for their food and moisture source. Counterintuitively, it is the eucalyptus planted in poor soil that grows to be the more stable and wind or storm resistant.
Pest Problems – Little to none (as long as the tree remains healthy). High concentrations of cineole in all parts of eucalyptus trees acts a natural insect repellant.
Two species of Australian tortoise beetles (family Chrysomelidae) (still isolated in the west) chew semicircular holes or notches on edges of eucalyptus leaves.
These beetles are able to remove most of a leaf’s surface, leaving only the midvein.The damage caused by these beetles is unsightly but not life threatening to the tree.
If a tree is stressed enough, an opportunity opens up for the eucalyptus longhorn borer. The female of this species lays her eggs on stressed trees, producing larvae that burrow their way to the cambium layer.
A heavily infested tree can die within weeks, which is due to the larval galleries girdling the tree and disrupting the flow of water and nutrients.
Infestations must be treated immediately. Because of the speed at which death can occur, an arborist should be called to evaluate the tree and determine what actions to take.
Disease – Canker, heart rot, and Phytophthora can infect a stressed eucalyptus tree. All three of these fungi attack and damage the tree from the inside.
Signs of infection are discolored leaves and in severe cases, splitting of the trunk. In any of these cases, the tree should be removed, destroyed (burned) and all equipment disinfected to prevent the disease from spreading to other trees.
Tree Care for Evergreens
As long as evergreens are planted in hardiness zones where they can thrive and get ample summer sunlight and winter shade (possibly on the north side of your property), caring for these trees is relatively simple.
Water them regularly and mulch around their trunk. This will keep them strong and winter injury resistant. Evergreens (when not mulched or watered well) can be severely injured by the drying effects of the sun and wind through winter months.
A major benefit of evergreens in your yard is that there is no bad season. Even during the coldest days of winter, your landscape will be filled with full, and vibrantly-green trees.