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Eucalyptus oil has for a long time, been considered the cure all in some peoples minds. It has been thought to be good for aches and pains, arthritis, muscle strains and many other ailments since it was first distilled in 1788 by surgeon general John White. In a time of modern medicine, we see that Eucalypt oil is still used, not only medically but also domestically and industrially.

The production of Eucalypt oil was initially dominated by Australia, but since that value of Eucalypt Oil has been realised many more countries have started to produce. The largest producer of Eucalypt Oil today is China. China produces approximately half of the world Eucalypt Oil. Spain also is a large producer. In these countries the species used in Tasmanian Blue Gum or Eucalyptus globulus. In a native setting, the Blue Gum is a forest tree achieving heights of over 40 metres. In Tasmania it is used for pulp and sawlog production. In Australia the primary species for oil production is the Blue Mallee or Eucalyptus polybractea The distribution of the Blue Mallee can be seen here. This area includes central Victoria and an area around West Wylong in NSW. Harvesting is generally carried out in the wild, but plantations of the Blue Mallee are being establshed.

Some examples of Blue Mallee plantations can be seen in the pictures below (pictures from E&B Holdings.

Eucalyptus Oil has many uses, one of them is pharmaceutical. The reason for this is, Eucalypt oil possesses a high content of 1, 8-cineole. This is a compound used to enrich other oils. The cineole has a density of only 0.93 so it floats on water. Steam must be used during the distillation prossess to convert the oil to vapour. Cineole exists in the oil dots within the leaves of the Eucalypt. All species possess these dots, but some are more prevalent then others. Here we can see an example of the oil dots on a Blue Mallee leaf (image from Boland et al, 1992).

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