Thursday, June 11, 2015

Eucalyptus globulus - leaves

There are more than 700 species of Eucalyptus trees.   Eucalyptus are native to Australia, but are cultivated today in temperate regions throughout the world.  It's root system can delve 130 feet or more in search of water. The aromatic leaves of the eucalyptus tree are never shed, and on a warm day they emit a misty vapor.  In forests where these trees are abundant, this vapor can shroud the trees in an eerie blue haze.  It is this blue halo that gives the Australian Blue Mountains their name.

These fast-growing trees, up to 6 feet per year, are grown in some countries primarily for wood production.  It's leaves, which are used world-wide in floral arrangements, can also be used as a natural insecticide, or placed under the beds of pets to act as a natural tick and flea repellent. Leaves have also been used for centuries as a dye on wool and silk fibers, as well as on baskets, providing yellow, orange, rust, and red colors, depending on the species of the tree.

Eucalyptus trees not being native to our area of the world, my daughter gifted me with some dried leaves purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.   I was eager to see what dye color they might yield.

Eucalyptus globulus leave from Mountain Rose Herbs

Eucalyptus globulus leaves

The leaves shown in the picture above are from the Eucalyptus globulus tree.  Eucalyptus cinera is know to give beautiful oranges and rusty-reds to purple shades of color, but most of the other eucalyptus give yellow or golden shades of color.  The Eucalyptus globulus proved to be no exception.

I used half of the 8 ounce. bag of leaves and simmered them in a pot of water for about an hour. Then I immersed an equal weight of fiber pre-mordanted with alum, and simmered for another hour. I used 2 ounces of a taupe-gray shade of Blue-faced Leicester wool roving, and 2 ounces of white wool yarn.
Top left-undyed roving; top right-dyed roving; bottom-wool yarn;
all dyed with Eucalyptus globulus leaves
While the yarn came out a golden color, the roving turned a very unique, but pretty, shade of olive green-brown.
Taupe Blue-faced Leister roving dyed with Eucalyptus globulus.

An interesting footnote:

We have all heard the old adage "Money doesn't grow on trees."  Well, maybe it does grow on Eucalyptus trees!  I came across this interesting article by Dan Verano published in the October 23, 2013 issue of National Geographic Magazine:  "Gold Grows on Eucaluptus Trees."  People had reported finding bits of gold on Euclatyptus leaves.  In his artcle, Verano states, "Australian researchers confirm that deep-rooted Eucalyptus trees pilfer gold from ore deposits underground and transport them into their leaves."  It is believed that when the roots encounter the ore deposits, in search for water, they take in some gold along with the water.  The gold being a foreign substance, it is then transported through the tree veins and pushed out to the leaves to be disposed of.


  1. Hello,
    Funny because I just dyed with Eucalytus globulus too and I had the same results as you ! I posted a picture on my blog.
    Thank you for the interesting footnote :)

  2. Marylene, thanks for your comment. Last summer I planted a Eucalyptus cinera tree in my back yard. It will probably be a few years before it has enough leaves to use for dyeing, but I am really looking forward to trying them. By the way, Your blog is just beautiful! Your photography is stunning and your knitted designs are simply charming.

    1. Thank you Pallas!
      You will be astonished fow fast the Eucalyptus tree will grow, I've planted one globulus and one cinerea two years ago,half a meter high, now each are three/four meters high and enough leaves to dye ! But no reds !