With more than 500 native Eucalyptus tree species, Australia used to be the biggest producer of eucalyptus oil in the world. Of the 600 eucalyptus tree species, around 10 are used for oil, with 3 or 4 of these being the go-to variety. Selection of the right tree species is critical as oil chemistry can vary significantly within a species.
The species of Eucalyptus trees that produce enough oil to extract for essential oils have been introduced to other countries, predominantly China - in order to claim the global market.
According to Agrifutures, in the 1940’s Australian eucalyptus oil production was around 1,000 tonnes a year with most of it exported, but by 2012, that number was down to about 120 tonnes a year. Global demand for rich eucalyptus oil is now around 7,000 tonnes per year with only 5% produced in Australia.
FORESTS ARE WELL ESTABLISHED IN CHINA AND AUSTRALIA IS NOW A SMALL AND COMPARATIVELY EXPENSIVE PRODUCER, BUT IF YOU ARE SHOPPING LOCAL, YOU CAN STILL FIND IT EASILY. THE MORE WE SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN MADE PRODUCTION, THE MORE WE CAN PRODUCE.
Eucalyptus globulus is the main species for oil production worldwide as it is righ in cineole. It is cheap, abundant and the species now predominantly grown, harvested and exported from China. (If you purchase imported oil, make sure it is legitimate Eucalyptus oil, not camphor based.)
Australian made Eucalyptus globulous brands like Tinderbox are available direct or through stores like Biome.
The second most common and slightly more delicate oil comes from Eucalyptus radiata - mostly sourced from Australia. Tinderbox, who sell it say it has a crisp, clean aroma with a hint of citrus and floral.
"IT IS COOLING, REFRESHING AND ENERGIZING AND SOMEWHAT MILDER AND GREENER THAN EUCALYPTUS GLOBULUS, WITH A SWEETER AND MORE CITRUSY SCENT. GLOBULUS HAS THE RECOGNISABLE CAMPHORACEOUS NOTE TYPICAL OF EUCALYPTUS DUE TO HAVING SLIGHTLY MORE 1,8-CINEOLE."
Eucalyptus radiata is often described as gentler in its action than E. globulus with a more pleasant, softer scent that makes it more suitable for children and sensitive people.
Eucalyptus radiata essential oil has many of the same properties as Eucalyptus globulus and they are sometimes combined to help support a healthy respiratory system and to ease difficulty in breathing.
Eucalyptus globulus is an incredibly versatile oil and it is used medicinally, in cleaning products, flavours and insect repellent.
Images: Aromatic Studies / Tinderbox