Eucalyptus Tree Pruning and Oil Extraction
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Yvonne Oechsle
Posted on: November 23, 2002

I have a HUGE eucalyptus tree that is overtaking one of our elm trees. My husband wants to cut it off about midway down. I’m thinking that this will harm the tree and I do not want that but I would like for it to be more of a bush than a tree. Any suggestions for pruning?

To avoid injury to the roots, only remove up to 1/3 of the branches in the spring only. Any more will cause the roots to starve and die. By chopping the top 1/3 off you should try to get as much of the central stem as possible, because to get a bush you have to have lots of stems, not one central one. By cutting off the tops of most of the upward facing branches you remove the end buds that produce inhibitors that travel down the stem and stop any lower buds from growing and producing stems. Such an amputation might allow lots of basal shoots to grow that you then have to keep ridgidly within bounds - again remembering that the removal of the highest buds encourages lower buds to sprout.

If one pruning is not good enough, then repeat next spring(s).

Also, since I just happen to have so much eucalyptus I was wondering if there is an easy way to extract the oil so I can use it in baths and steams.

Commercial extraction involves steam distillation and is not easy without the proper equipment. According to the "Herb Book" by John Lust, you could try to boil the leaves in water and condense the oil and steam mix (he does not say how!) and separate the oil floating on top of the condensed water. I suggest you dry the leaves and store them in airtight containers, in the dark to prevent the oils from evaporating. Use a few leaves per bath, as needed. Do not use too many leaves, as large doses(4-25 ml) are hazardous. Check our web-site at www.richters.com under "Q&A", "Search Richters Q and A", type in "Eucalyptus" and check the medicinal article(s) that come up for uses and cautions.

Back to Growing Herbs | Q & A Index

Copyright © 1997-2014 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.