The giant evergreen displays of artistic color span across Costa Rica. So why hasn’t anyone heard of them? Eucalyptus deglupta, more commonly known as rainbow eucalyptus is a rapid growing tropical tree. Gazing at their trunks would lend you to think an entire kindergarden class equipped with crayons had their way with the tree. It is hard to believe, but it’s smooth outer layer full of vibrance and life is 100% natural. To keep up with it’s rapid growth, the tree sheds it’s outer layer displaying a bright green below. As the layer prepares to shed it changes colors: from green to a darker green, then blue, purple, orange, then finally maroon just before it separates from the eucalyptus. Each portion of the outer layer is at a different step along the exfoliation process resulting in a dramatic rainbow effect. The tree will never have the exact same color palate twice, thereby making each tree, at each stage, a unique display of art.
The tree is not indigenous to Costa Rica. It was imported from the Philippines for use in forestry, pulp, paper, and timber. With a growth rate of 7-10 feet a season, and a max height of 245 feet, it’s no wonder! In addition to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea are lucky enough to have the colorful giants native to their islands.
On top of it’s beauty, the E. deglupta is predominantly pet-free. The tree can be grown without excessive concern of pest damage. There are also medicinal properties, although ticos are not known for taking advantage of these properties. To tell you the truth, most locals that I spoke with claimed to have never seen or heard of one. If you drink a tea created by steeping two or three leaves, it will alleviate stress and purify the blood. Inhaling the steam from boiling leaves will clear blocked nasal passages. Lastly, if you apply crushed leaves to a wound it acts as an antiseptic. So why aren’t they more widely grown? There are movements to correct such a seemly large oversight. If you own property in a tropical climate see below for information on purchasing a tree.
For more information on how you can experience rainbow eucalyptus in your daily life as an expat in Costa Rica read: Becoming an Expat: Costa Rica
Other names include: Mindanao gum, rainbow gum, eucalyptus multiflora
To Purchase a tree