Painted bark eucalyptus trees, also called "painted gum," "rainbow gum," "Eucalyptus deglupta," "rainbow eucalyptus" and "bagras eucalyptus," are known for their colourful bark. The bark naturally peels off as the tree grows, and the trunk revealed underneath has green, pink, purple, copper, brown and orange colours.
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Painted bark eucalyptus trees are tall evergreens, reaching heights of up to 200 feet with trunks as wide as 8 feet. These trees grow long oval leaves in shiny green. The leaves grow between 2 and 6 inches long, and 1 to 2 3/4 inches wide. Painted bark eucalyptuses also produce clusters of white flowers and small brown seed capsules. Their twigs have four sides. The thin tree bark peels off, exposes streaks of colourful wood. Timber from these trees is reddish-brown.
Habitat and Distribution
Rainbow eucalyptus grows best in deep, moist and well-drained soils. These trees grow in the sandy or loamy soils along riverbanks and flood plains. They like tropical rainforest climates with lots of light and do not tolerate frosts. In the U.S., painted bark eucalyptus trees grow mainly in Hawaii. Rainbow eucalyptus trees survive in elevations between sea level and 6,000 feet in areas with average temperatures between 22.8 and 31.1 degrees Celsius. They also grow natively in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, and have been introduced to Brazil, China, Honduras, Costa Rica, Cuba, Fiji, Congo, Samoa, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and other tropical areas.
In tropical regions, painted bark tree plantations make pulp, paper and timber. The trees grow quickly and easily from seed or cuttings, making them practical and profitable to grow commercially. Some people also use the trees for firewood or charcoal, though the World Agroforestry Centre notes that painted bark eucalyptus wood is widely considered too valuable to burn. The wood from these trees makes somewhat strong but not very durable timber. It is used in particleboard, furniture, plywood, boats, flooring and veneer.
The unusual bark of the Eucalyptus deglupta tree makes it an attractive choice as an ornamental tree in landscapes. However, these trees grow so huge that gardeners need to make sure they have plenty of room for the mature specimen. In Hawaii, these trees can grow as much as 100 feet in just seven years. Gardeners also need to watch out for termites, ring bark boring insects and cossid moths, which sometimes damage painted eucalyptus trees.
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- University of Hawaii at Manoa; Bagras Eucalyptus; 2003
- Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne; Phylogeography of Eucalyptus Deglupta; Frank Udovicic, et al.; December 2010
- World Agroforestry Centre "A Tree Species Reference and Selection Guide": Eucalyptus Deglupta
- Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR): Plants of Hawaii: Eucalyptus Deglupta (Rainbow Eucalyptus)