Opinion » Letters

Eucalyptus trees haven't been here that long

Santa Maria



The writer from Los Osos (“Leave us eucalyptus lovers alone,” Jan. 5) would have better served the cause of her argument had she done the barest minimum of research before writing. The earliest plantings in California date possibly to the mid 1850s, with a few claims that it could have happened in 1800—a far cry from “more than 300 years.”

Contrary to the writer’s statement that they were “brought from the friendly nation of Australia to fill the gaping hole left by the native oak, which was decimated early on in the history of California to build homes,” the trees were brought here primarily, if not solely, for commercial purposes, and eucalyptus-related businesses were invariably failures. In fact, there was quite a burst “bubble” in the late 1800s, when a great number of speculators found their “sure-fire” investments to be worthless. The wood was found, early on, to be unsuitable for use as railroad ties, telegraph poles, furniture, and building materials.

There was also a period of intense interest in the curative powers of the oils, the leaves, and the bark. All such claims have since faded into obscurity, mostly disproven. Some varieties make good windbreaks, though, and they’re pretty nice to look at.

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