The three genera Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora are known collectively as ‘eucalypts’. With over 700 species, the eucalypt dominates many Australian landscapes and is only absent (or at least reduced in diversity) in rainforests and truly arid environments. Gum trees (eucalypts) are the essence of the Australian flora. Their range extends from sub-alpine areas to wet coastal forests, temperate woodlands and the arid inland. In fact, the only major environment where eucalypts are absent is probably rainforest. There are about 12 species which occur naturally outside of Australia but around 700 are Australian endemics. Only 2 species are not found in Australia. One of these, Eucalyptus deglupta, is the only eucalypt to be found growing naturally in the northern hemisphere, occurring in the southern Phillipines (as well as in New Guinea and parts of Indonesia).
Even Australians who wouldn’t know a Banksia from a Begonia know what a gum tree looks like and smells like. Soldiers returning by ship from the first and second world wars are rumoured to have been able to smell the aroma of the eucalypt before land was visible on the horizon. Most Australians may not be able to identify a particular species (there are hundreds of them, after all!) but they will know “that’s a eucalypt”.
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