Is eucalyptus flammable? 

This article will answer the question, is eucalyptus flammable? and covers several topics about what are categories of eucalyptus, why eucalyptus is flammable, and how we eliminate the dangers of eucalyptus flammability.

Is Eucalyptus Flammable?

Yes, eucalyptus is flammable. These majestic trees are brimming with aromatic oil, making them extremely flammable. This offers a picture of California and other locations suffering from severe eucalyptus fire destruction. 

The tree sheds its bark and dead leaves, creating a perfect tinder pile beneath it. When the tree’s oils heat up, flammable gas is released, which ignites into a fireball. This increases the risk of eucalyptus fires in a given area while also discouraging firefighting operations. 

If Eucalyptus didn’t have so many applications for humans, it wouldn’t have expanded as swiftly over the planet. While there are many more, below is a list of some of the more common eucalyptus uses.

  • A  Typical Essential Oil
  • Medical Treatment
  • Fuel
  • A Powerful Windbreak

A Typical Essential Oil

Anyone who has strolled through a eucalyptus forest is familiar with the strong, spicy, minty scent the trees emit. 

The chemical molecule eucalyptol, which is found in the green leaves of eucalyptus trees, is primarily responsible for its odor. Eucalyptus is used in aromatherapy and as a perfume by some people who enjoy the scent.

Medical Treatment

Eucalyptol is a potential healing oil. Throughout history, people have utilized eucalyptus oils for several of therapeutic purposes. 

It’s antimicrobial, which means it can kill germs and other microbes. Eucalyptus oil has also been used for dental care, respiratory illness, pain treatment, immunological stimulation, and equipment sterilization. 

Fuel

Eucalyptus is recognized for its oil extracts rather than the wood itself, and when burned, it uses these natural oils to generate a high burn temperature. Eucalyptus burns hot and produces a very intense flame. 

When you combine this with the fact that all of our wood is kiln-dried, these logs produce an extremely efficient and hot output, requiring less fuel to reach a high temperature than other wood types. It produces high-quality coals and can keep your home warm for a long time.

Because there are so many different species of eucalyptus, determining the number of BTUs per cord of firewood is challenging. Some sources claim 34.5 BTUs, while others claim significantly more.

Besides utilizing it as firewood, some research is also being developed to produce biodiesel from eucalyptus. Because of the abundance of eucalyptus trees in arid locations, this research focuses on using eucalyptus biodiesel as a diesel engine fuel. 

Transesterification is used to turn eucalyptus oil into biodiesel. Characterization of eucalyptus biodiesel reveals that its physicochemical parameters are comparable to those of diesel fuel.

A Powerful Windbreak

Eucalyptus trees offer great windbreaks for farmers due to their quick growth. On the windward side of a crop, a windbreak is usually a tall hedge or a row of trees. 

What are Categories of Eucalyptus?

Eucalyptus are divided into two groups. As previously stated, the eucalyptus genus is big and diversified. Some botanists divide the genus into two types of eucalypts: mallees and trees, to make sense of it. 

Within the genus, these groups correspond to distinct development tendencies. These categories provide a valuable framework for understanding eucalyptus growth habits.

Mallee

Mallee is a term used by Aboriginal Australians to describe wild eucalyptus species that grow to be less than 30 feet tall. Instead of a single core stem, mallee eucalyptus has numerous distinct stems. 

The lignotubers of Mallee eucalypts are enormous, resembling large, potato-like roots. During wet periods, these lignotubers suck up water and store it for droughts.

Tree-like Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus trees have steeply angled branches that reach for the sky, while others have a broader, more spread-out canopy.

Some common species, like the southern blue gum, have no branches on the bottom half of their trunks, while others have branches up. There are lignotubers on some tall eucalyptus trees and none on others.

Types of Tree-like Eucalyptus

  • Southern Blue Gum – Eucalyptus globulus
  • Blue-Leaved Mallee – Eucalyptus polybractea
  • Red Gum – Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  • Cider Gum – Eucalyptus gunnii
  • Spider Gum – Eucalyptus conferruminata
  • Willow-Leafed Peppermint – Eucalyptus nicholii
  • Snow Gum – Eucalyptus pauciflora
  • Silver Dollar Gum – Eucalyptus polyanthemos
  • White Peppermint – Eucalyptus pulchella
  • Mountain Gum – Eucalyptus dalrympleana
  • Rainbow Gum – Eucalyptus Deglupta
  • Spinning Gum – Eucalyptus Perriniana
  • Omeo Gum/Big O – Eucalyptus Neglecta 
  • Candlebark – Eucalyptus Rubida
  • Brown Mallet – Eucalyptus Astringens

Why Eucalyptus is Flammable?

The Tasmanian bluegum tree is extremely flammable. Eucalyptus oil vaporizes in the heat on hot days. A smoggy miasma settles over the eucalyptus groves as a result of the oil. This gas is extremely combustible and has been responsible for numerous wildfires. 

Because of the oils, the natural debris beneath the tree is resistant to microbial or fungal breakdown.

This makes the tree’s oil an excellent antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory agent, but the unbroken-down material is like kindling for starting a fire. It’s tinder dry and has flammable oil in it. 

Despite the presence of volatile oils that cause a fire, Tasmanian bluegum leaves are classified as intermediate in terms of flammability, whereas young leaves are highly resistant.

How do we eliminate the dangers of eucalyptus flammability?

The bark peelings and leaves of eucalyptus trees must be removed from the understory to prevent further fires. 

According to research conducted in the 1970s, 10-40% of the leaves that fall each year disintegrate in that year; fuel accumulates quickly. Occasionally, entire trees must be cut down. 

The East Bay Regional Park District cleared around 400 acres of eucalyptus following the 1991 fire. Because trees are massive and re-sprout from the stump, removing them is considerably more difficult and expensive than clearing litter. 

Stumps must be treated with chemical herbicides or covered with black plastic so that sunlight can not reach them to prevent re-sprouting. Another alternative is to knock the trees over and expose their roots.

Conclusion

Eucalyptus is flammable due to the presence of eucalyptus oil in it. The oil will easily evaporate on hot days and ignite a fire. Although there is a risk of fire caused by eucalyptus, its existence is still widely found due to its very useful use. 

Several studies have been conducted to find out what steps can be taken to prevent eucalyptus fire hazards. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs): Is Eucalyptus Flammable?

Which trees are most flammable?

Cyprus, pines, eucalyptus, and a few other natural trees are the most combustible, with some of them known to burst once consumed in flames. The trees you plant around your house are important since the appropriate ones can help to delay and/or cool the fire.

Are eucalyptus trees are toxic?

According to North Carolina State University, humans who inhale eucalyptus leaves may have significant symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and coma. When excessive amounts of the leaves are consumed, severe symptoms develop. Skin irritation, redness, and burning might occur when handling the eucalyptus leaf.

Citations

Grant, Bonnie. (2022).  Eucalyptus Fire Hazards: Are Eucalyptus Trees Flammable. Retrieved from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/eucalyptus/eucalyptus-fire-hazards.htm.

Levy, Evan. (2020). 15 Different Eucalyptus Tree Types (And Classifications). Retrieved from https://www.plantsnap.com/blog/eucalyptus-tree-types/.

Lyes, Tarabet., Khaled, L., Mohand, S., Hanchi, S., Mohand, T., (2012). Eucalyptus Biodiesel as an Alternative to Diesel Fuel: Preparation and Tests on DI Diesel Engine. doi.org/10.1155/2012/235485.

Federal Reserve System of United States. (n.d). Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) Index of Species Information.

Skene, Jennifer. (2011). Eucalyptus: Fuel for Fire. Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/quest/25998/eucalyptus-fuel-for-fire.

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