Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Messmate
Eucalyptus obliqua
Myrtaceae

Wood – hard, straight grained, easily worked. Highly valued in Australia, it is used for joinery, furniture, construction and pulp[167].

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    Citronellal, an essential oil found in most Eucalyptus species is reported to be mutagenic when used in isolation[269]. In large doses, oil of eucalyptus, like so many essential oils has caused fatalities from intestinal irritation[269]. Death is reported from ingestion of 4 - 24 ml of essential oils, but recoveries are also reported for the same amount[269]. Symptoms include gastroenteric burning and irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, oxygen deficiency, ,weakness, dizziness, stupor, difficult respiration, delirium, paralysis, convulsions, and death, usually due to respiratory failure[269].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – surface sow February/March in a sunny position in a greenhouse[11, 78, 134]. Species that come from high altitudes appreciate 6 – 8 weeks cold stratification at 2¡c[200]. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots as soon as the second set of seed leaves has developed, if left longer than this they might not move well. Plant out into their permanent positions in early summer and give them some protection from the cold in their first winter. The seed can also be sown in June, the young trees being planted in their final positions in late spring of the following year. The seed has a long viability[200].
Prefers a sunny position in a moderately fertile well-drained moisture retentive circum-neutral soil[200]. Tolerates poor and dry soils, especially those low in mineral elements[200]. Established plants are drought tolerant[200]. Plants are hardy to about -10¡c[200] and should succeed outdoors in the milder areas of Britain. Eucalyptus species have not adopted a deciduous habit and continue to grow until it is too cold for them to do so. This makes them more susceptible to damage from sudden cold snaps. If temperature fluctuations are more gradual, as in a woodland for example, the plants have the opportunity to stop growing and become dormant, thus making them more cold resistant. A deep mulch around the roots to prevent the soil from freezing also helps the trees to survive cold conditions[200]. The members of this genus are remarkably adaptable however, there can be a dramatic increase in the hardiness of subsequent generations from the seed of survivors growing in temperate zones[200]. Eucalyptus monocultures are an environmental disaster, they are voracious, allelopathic and encourage the worst possible attitudes to land use and conservation[200]. Plants are shallow-rooting and, especially in windy areas, should be planted out into their permanent positions when small to ensure that they do not suffer from wind-rock[245]. They strongly resent root disturbance and should be container grown before planting out into their permanent position[11]. The flowers are rich in nectar and are a good bee crop[200].
Australia – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.