Eucalypts – Australia’s bush legacy
Eucalypts form about three-quarters of the tree flora of Australia. Nicknamed "gums", because of the gummy, gluey sap they exude, Eucalypts are a true Australian native tree (the extensive plantations now found in Africa, South and North America, Europe, India and China were planted with Australian seed).
More than 600 species of eucalypts exist, ranging from the dwarfed and stunted forms called "Mallees" to the tall trees which grow in coastal and mountainous regions. Although the leaves of all species contain oil, fewer than 20 contain enough oil to be harvested commercially.
Of these, Blue Mallee (Eucalyptus Polybractea) – the species harvested for Bosisto’s Eucalyptus products – produces one of the best quality, long-lasting aromatic oils for both medicinal and industrial use.
From leaf to bottle
1. Growing the trees
Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Oil is made from the leaves of Eucalyptus Polybractea, also known as Blue Mallee. Blue Mallee trees come from a unique natural forest around Inglewood, near Bendigo Victoria. It’s a totally organic process in that no pesticides or chemicals are used; just the natural elements of the sun, soil and rain. The eucalypts grow to approximately 1 metre in height and are harvested every two years. Blue Mallees are “evergreen” which means they grow back after harvesting – a naturally renewable resource.
The trees are planted in what’s known as ‘patches’– each is at a different stage and ready for harvest at different times, allowing harvesting and distillation all year round. A tractor pulls along the harvester that empties the cut trees into a vat towing behind. When the vat is full (approx.. 3 tonnes of leaf), it’s taken back to the distillery.
3. Stoking the boiler
A boiler is used to generate steam, which is pumped directly into the vat of leaves to extract their oil. The boiler is fuelled using dried, spent leaves which have already had their oil extracted – or, they’re used as garden mulch. Eucalyptus distilling is an earth-friendly process with very little waste!
4. Crude oil
The oil/water mix drains out of the vat and into a bucket. The oil (called ‘crude oil’ at this stage) separates from the water naturally and is syphoned off. It takes approx.. 5kg of leaves to produce a 50mL bottle of eucalyptus oil.
5. Lifting the lid
After 2 hours of steam being pumped through the vat the leaves are spent and ready to be dried out for fuel or mulch.
6. Liquid gold!
Once all the crude oil is collected it’s carefully re-distilled to remove any impurities, and blended to create a fresh, premium grade eucalyptus oil.
7. Bosisto’s “Parrot” brand
Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Oil has a distinctive clean, fresh fragrance which is stronger and longer lasting than other eucalyptus oils –that’s what makes our famous “Parrot brand” quality so unique.
Did you know?
Mechanical harvesting hasn’t been around as long as you’d think – horse and cart was still being used as late as 1974!
The eucalyptus oil industry is an important and colourful part of Australia’s history.
It began in 1852 in Victoria and by the turn of the century it was well established and eucalyptus oil was being exported to many countries. Over the next 50 years this distinctively Australian industry was the major supplier of eucalyptus oil to world markets. However, since then Australia’s market share has fallen drastically and supply cannot keep up with demand.
A New Beginning
This is a situation Bosisto’s has begun to change. Over the past two decades the company has invested significant time, passion, energy and finances into a large scale agriculture project in conjunction with the Botany Department of Melbourne University. Over the past 17 years they’ve been involved in a joint venture breeding program to cultivate a high-yielding blue mallee: a “Super Tree”.
The objective is to double the amount of normal eucalyptus oil yield, allowing for greater productivity and allowing Australia to again compete internationally in production.
The first plantations of Bosisto’s new ‘super trees’ began in 2012. Nearly 4 million have since been planted, and 1 million harvested as the project gains momentum.
It’s a new beginning and a new hope for our once-great industry, a part of the history of every Australian.
What is eucalyptus oil used for?
Colds & Flu: Eucalyptus oil is a unique natural product with antiseptic properties and the power to clear the nasal passages and bronchial tubes making it easier to breathe. Most popular as an inhalant, vaporised in hot water, it is also an active ingredient in cough lozenges, throat sprays, drops or gargles.
Personal hygiene: Medicinal eucalyptus oils and eucalyptol are used in mouth washes, toothpastes, embrocation balms and ointments, liniments and soaps.
Muscle aches: an excellent rub for muscular aches and pains and it has been widely used by athletes and physiotherapists for decades.
Laundry: With its cleaning, deodorising and antiseptic properties, eucalyptus is terrific for freshening clothes and in particular, for soft and fluffy woollens.
Antiseptics: eucalyptus oil is used in antiseptics and germicidal and household disinfectants because of its pleasant odour and ability to kill bacteria.
Spot and stain remover: eucalyptus oil’s natural solvent ability makes it an idea spot and stain remover. It is also used as an industrial solvent.
Saunas: the oil lends a wonderful fragrance to spas and saunas.
Euca-Mulch: the by-product of eucalyptus oil production, aromatic eucalyptus leaves make a wonderful garden mulch for both commercial landscape and home gardening. It is weed and insect free, non-toxic and allows excellent drainage.