These giants in the panhandle must be over a hundred years old. According to Elizabeth McIntock’s pamphlet, Trees of the Panhandle, published in 1973, they are Manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) and, in Australia, the favorite food of Koala bears. Sometimes also called Ribbon gum because of the way the multi-colored bark peels off in long ribbons, these trees twist from sturdy, thick trunks to a crown of gracefully contorted branches that brush the sky with light feathery foliage.
Now abundant throughout California as well as Chile and South Africa, they are widely appreciated for their beauty. According to native plant authorities in Australia, this is a promiscuous species (botanically speaking) that readily hybridizes with many other eucalyptus species. Which makes me wonder if we might now have some California eucalyptus hybrids that could rightly be considered native, or at least have earned full citizenship.
Ooooh…what an intriguing thought. Full citizenship for eucalyptus? I vote for that!
I hereby volunteer to be a eucalyptus citizenship sponsor. Love your evocation of these beauties.
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