632 - Red Gum Pen Blanks
The river red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis is the most widely distributed eucalyptus species in Australia growing along watercourses throughout the country. It lines the Murray River for most of its length. The trees are usually 20–35 m high with some over 45 m, with a diameter of 1–3 m. Canopy is dark green and the forest floor is usually devoid of undergrowth. The trunk is vari-coloured, which includes patches of leaden grey bark above an area of brown-black. The branches are often twisted and the root system is often partly exposed.
It is the association with the water that makes the tree interesting. It needs periods of partial flooding where its trunk may be inundated for months. Seeds are washed to high ground during a flood and germinate to take root and grow before the next flood submerges the new tree.
Old rotten limb hollows, or broken branches, provide nesting hollows for galahs, sulphur-crested cockatoos, gang-gang cockatoos, cockatiels and various parrots.
The timber is a reddish colour with a strong interlocking grain. It is hard and durable and is renowned for its slow-rotting character. The hard, heavy red gum provides foundations for buildings, and timber for railway sleepers, wharves and fences. It polishes beautifully and sometimes turns well.
Flowering is usually in summer in Victoria and varies in New South Wales. The flowers are white to pale cream. Honey produced has a clear golden colour, is mild and of good flavour.
Eucalyptus oil is well known in the pharmaceutical industry for a variety of products such as cough lozenges, inhalations, linaments and mouth washes. It comes mainly from E. globulus but some is derived from E. camaldulensis, but it is in the supply of eucalyptus gum that the river red gum leads the field.
The Aborigines used the tree for its medicinal properties. A handful of young leaves, crushed and then boiled in water, was used as a linament that was rubbed in for chest or joint pain, particularly for general aches and flu symptoms. Young leaves were also heated in a pit over hot coals, and the vapours were inhaled, which helped with the treatment of general sickness.