This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



April 18, 2017

The amazing eucalyptus trees of Phoenix, Arizona


As someone who grew up in Minnesota, I never saw a eucalyptus tree until I was 19 years old, when I moved to Phoenix. Even after all these years (and there have been a LOT of years!), they still amaze me. If you'd never seen one before and I described it to you as a tree that didn't lose its leaves, but instead lost its bark, you'd probably just roll your eyes. But that's exactly what they do, and it's part of what makes these trees so amazing, and magical.

Now waitaminute, I'm not suggesting that you plant one. I have a tiny suburban lot, and these trees are way out of scale for it. There are a few in my neighborhood, in the larger lots, in the parks, and by the school, but mostly I see them along the main roads, like where this one is.

Lately I've been walking a bit. There's a Walmart Neighborhood Market, and a Bealls Outlet, just up on the corner, about 1/4 mile from where I live, and I've been figuring out the best route to go. This is Phoenix, so while it's still only April, it's hot, and shade is appreciated. So take a slightly longer route just because I can walk in the shade of trees. Makes a big difference!

I bought some tee-shirts at Bealls, and stopped and took a photo of this tree today. And I was careful not to include anything in the background, like cars, or house numbers, or anything. Seeing someone taking a photo makes people nervous, so I do it quickly and move on. If anyone saw me taking this photo (which is on public property) they probably thought that I was going to report something bad, or something.

Eucalyptus trunk. Note that the bark falls off, and you can see a little bit of reddish color there. Some eucalyptus tree trunks have so much color that they're called "rainbows".

But I just like trees. And I've been trying to learn more about eucalyptus trees lately. There are a lot of different varieties of eucalyptus trees around Phoenix, and sometimes I can recognize them as eucalyptus because of the smooth trunk, or the shape of the leaves. If I'm not sure, I'll pick up a leaf, break it and smell it. Eucalyptus tree leaves have that delicious smell, which I recognize.

If you live in the Phoenix area, or Los Angeles, or in a similar climate, look around, you'll probably see a lot of eucalyptus trees. And there's no admission charge to see them, it's free.

They took all the trees
And put 'em in a tree museum.
Then they charged the people
A dollar-and-a-half just to see 'em.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Til it's gone?
They paved paradise
And put in a parking lot.
- Joni Mitchell
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