Get to know the Species

Common eucalyptus

The most frequent eucalyptus species in Portugal, the common eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) began to be planted in the country in the mid-19th century, as an ornamental species and source of wood. The tree attracts birds, but also bees and other insects, which seek the abundant nectar of its flowers.

With a characteristic long and smooth trunk (in white and brownish tones) and an aroma reminiscent of mint, the common eucalyptus does not go unnoticed. This is an evergreen tree, which can grow to over 70 meters and does not survive very low temperatures.

Known as a fast-growing tree, it owes this characteristic to a combination of factors, including the abundance of fine roots that capture rainwater well; the availability of nutrients that result from the decomposition of leaves and bark; the perennial leaves, with pores (stomata) on both sides, which allow photosynthesis to be maintained at high levels throughout the year; and the association with fungi existing in the soil (mycorrhizae).

The leaves, in the shape of a sickle and measuring around 20 centimetres in length, are distinguished by being narrow and by their pendulous (almost vertical) arrangement, which has clear advantages: it allows less wind resistance, directs the moisture produced by atmospheric condensation to the foot of the plant, and reduces the tree’s stress in case of excess sunlight.

As for the flowers, which appear between September and October, they last until late spring. Large and whitish or yellowish in colour, they produce nectar in abundance – used by bees and many other insects for the production of honey. The fruits are small woody capsules, approximately tetragonal in shape, which can contain between six and 30 seeds.

Naturalised in the Iberian Peninsula, where it was introduced in the second half of the 19th century, it represents about a quarter of the national forest area. Around it, other species can be found, in addition to bees and other insects. An example is the Bonelli’s eagle (a species of bird of prey with “Endangered” status), which may seek out old eucalyptus trees to build their nests.

Eucalyptus globulus

Did you know that…

  • The essential oil of the common eucalyptus leaves has balsamic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, among others.
  • The name globulus (globe) is an allusion to the shape of the fruits and the first description of the species in the western world was made in 1800 by the French botanist Jacques Labillardière (from specimens collected in Tasmania).
  • Eucalyptus is the common name given to many species in the genera Eucalyptus, Corymbia, and Angophora. The good adaptation to Portuguese soil and climate, the speed of growth, and the properties of the wood contributed to making one species stand out in Portugal – Eucalyptus globulus.
  • The word eucalyptus derives from the Latin Eucalyptus, which in turn is based on two Greek words Eu and Calyptus. These mean “well covered” or “well hidden”, in an allusion to the eucalyptus flower bud that resembles a kind of lid – called an operculum – protecting the remaining parts of the flower.

  • Common eucalyptus

    Eucalyptus globulus

  • Genus:


  • Family:


  • Conservation status:

    Least concern, according to the IUCN Red List – International Union for Conservation of Nature.

  • Habitats:

    Cool and humid places, where temperatures are not too low.

  • Distribution:

    Origin in South West Australia and Tasmania. Distribution on a global scale, in tropical and temperate zones. In Portugal, it is more common in the central coastal region.

  • Height/length:

    up to 55 m.

  • Lifespan:

    200+ years

How do we care for the common eucalyptus?

The Navigator Company has around 105 thousand hectares of forest under certified management, in which the common eucalyptus is the main species. These forests are subject to the best practices of sustainable forest management, to ensure their continuity, as well as the natural resources that are essential to the life of the eucalyptus and the more than 800 species and subspecies of flora already identified in the areas managed by the company.

The health, resilience, and renewal of these forest areas is also a central issue for the company’s sustainability, which is clearly evident in its common eucalyptus plantations, considered worldwide as the best species of this genus for the production of high quality pulp and paper.

In addition to being the source of the papers on which we write, read, or print, and for all those we use in our homes, eucalyptus fibre is an excellent raw material for new products of biological origin, in applications ranging from electronics, to health, and to packaging. Essential oil is extracted from its leaves, used in cosmetics, health, nutraceuticals (area that combines nutrition and pharmaceuticals) and even the bark is not wasted, being ultimately used to produce energy.