Here's some interesting facts to debunk some of the myths about Eucalyptus trees and plants.
1. Nothing grows under Eucalyptus trees because they poison other plants. (FALSE)
A ramble through Sutro Forest will disprove that as effectively as possible. The undergrowth is dense to impassible in most places, and trails have to be hacked into the forest.
2. Eucalyptus only lives about 100 years. (FALSE)
Eucalyptus in the tropical and arid areas of Northern Australia tend to live about 200 years. In temperate, rainy Southern Australia they can live to 400-500 years.
3. It’s not native. (TRUE)
It comes from Australia, and was brought here around 150 years ago. Keep in mind, nothing we eat is native either: corn, peaches, avocado, broccoli, strawberry, artichoke, chicken or beef. In fact, the only “native” product in most people’s diet is fish.
4. Eucalyptus doesn’t attract / support bees. (FALSE)
Flowers are mainly pollinated by insects, but birds and small mammals may also act as pollinating agents. In fact, Eucalyptus is particularly valuable as bee pasture, because it blooms year-round. It also gives honey a distinctive peppermint taste. (The Honey Bee is also not native.)
5. Eucalyptus pollen causes allergies. (MOSTLY FALSE)
Unlike wind-pollinated plants such as Mountain Cedar, Oak, and a number of grasses, Eucalyptus relies on insects and birds for pollination. Wind-pollinated plants have light pollen, which is more allergenic. Insect-pollinated plants have heavy pollen which isn’t broadcast on the wind, and doesn’t cause as much allergy.
6. Eucalyptus groves don’t support birds. (FALSE)
Birders have identified over 40 species in Sutro Forest. Over 100 species of birds use the trees for their seed, nectar, and permanent habitat.
7. It’s invasive. (FALSE in practice)
With over 700 species of Eucalyptuses only E. globulus is listed as an invasive species in California, and that is due, in part, from 60 years of overplanting. In fact, in the San Francisco Bay Area,Eeucalyptus forest cover actually declines, not invades, based on sixty years of research by William Russell (USGS) and Joe Mc Bride (UC Berkeley).