River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)

Aunty Ellen Trevorrow visiting a Red Gum by our river
Aunty Ellen Trevorrow visiting a Red Gum by our river.

Common names: River Red Gum

Taxonomic name: Eucalyptus camaldulensis

Family: Myrtaceae

Habitat: Riverbanks, wet areas in general

Form: Large tree to 45 metres

Flowering time: Summer

Ngarrindjeri name: Pee-al, Ta’art, Be-al

Kaurna name: Karra

Description and uses:

Growing along waterways, sometimes growing to enormous size, River Red gums are a vital part of Australia’s river ecology.

They stabilize riverbanks and their roots provide refuge and shelter for both aquatic and terrestrial creatures. When a Red gum reaches a certain age, limbs that fall tear large wounds in the trunk, leaving behind hollows that are the home to many birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. Boughs and even whole trees that fall into the river itself rapidly become shelters and breeding grounds for many fish and insects, and can change the nature of the water course itself.  Aboriginal folk observed all this and developed management and hunting strategies that took advantage of the nature of Red gums

Mature Red gums provide nesting hollows that are refuge and breeding grounds for many critters.
Mature Red gums provide nesting hollows that are refuge and breeding grounds for many critters.

River Red gums are members of the Eucalyptus genus of plants and share the Eucalyptus oil that many of reach for when we have a cold or many other illnesses. It’s a famous antibiotic and antiseptic. The Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri used Red gum leaves for steam baths as well as for a wound healing wash. The gum is used on burns and to seal cuts and small wounds.

Red Gum leaves are a source of Eucalyptus oil.
Red Gum leaves are a source of Eucalyptus oil. It’s good for what ails you!

The wood from a Red gum is famous for its beauty and durability and is still prized to this day.