Snow-gum trees are usually found in Eastern Australia and Tasmania. This plant species is known for its ability to survive under extremely harsh weather conditions. Snow gums belong to the Myrtaceae plant family. Scientifically, this plant is known as the Eucalyptus Pauciflora. Although it is native to Australia, the plant is highly adaptable and has been introduced in many other parts of the world.
The word Eucalyptus comes from Greek and means “Well Covered” while Paucifloras has Latin origins and means “Few Flowered”.
Snow-gums were first described in 1823, by Czech botanist Franz Wilhelm Sieber while on a visit to New South Wales, Australia.
They are also known by other names such as Cabbage Gum, Weeping Gum, Ghost Gum, White Sallee, Flooded Gum, Peppermint, Swamp Gum or Alpine Snow Gum.
Snow-gums prefer moist, slightly acidic and well drained soils. They aren’t comfortable with chalky and clay soils. These trees easily grow anywhere and don’t require a mineral rich soil. However, they do prefer sunny conditions and grow well in direct sunlight.
These trees can grow at lowlands and also at high altitudes. Snow-gum trees have been found at altitudes of 2000m. Snow-gums growing at higher altitudes are shorter than those growing at lower altitudes, because of variations in soil and climate.
They are quite hardy and can survive under moderate drought conditions.
Considered small or medium sized in height, on average, these trees grow about 4-8m tall. Though sometimes they can rise up to 20m or even more, in height. It typically takes about 50 years for the tree to reach its maximum height.
It’s estimated that the tree has a lifespan of about 50-150 years.
Eucalyptus paucifloras(Snow-gums) are adapted to survive in very hot or very cold conditions. They can endure temperatures as low as -23°C. The Leaves and branches are specifically adapted to snowy conditions and can shed snow from the trees during winter.
Snow-gums give off a slightly minty aroma.
Leaves are evergreen and have a shiny and glossy appearance because they contain Citronellal, a compound which is commonly found in Eucalyptus plants. It’s however, potentially poisonous. Each leave usually measures about 2.7-6.3 inches in length.
Cup-shaped white Flowers, in clusters of 11-15, bloom on the tree during spring and summer. Bees, butterflies and other insects and birds are attracted to the flowers.
Fruits also grow on the tree, that are usually consumed by wildlife including animals and small birds.
The bark is usually cream-white in color. Sometimes the bark is made up of patches of white-green/grey or white-red colors. The tree has the ability to shed its bark and the different colored patches are a result of this characteristic. This habit of the snow gum allows it to recover from any damage caused by cold weather, snow or fires.
Citronella oil, found in the leaves has been used traditionally as an antiseptic by the Aboriginal population of Australia. It’s also used to treat sore throat, coughs, indigestion and infections. However large doses can be fatal, hence proper guidelines must be followed when using herbal products containing Citronella Oil.
Snow-gum trees are also used as a fuel source. The Wood is sometimes burned to provide fire for cooking and heating purposes.
Other uses of the tree include providing shade and shelter outdoors, especially in parks and public places.