I’m going to live up to that promise.” The ground around the tree is littered with its bark and leaves, inches deep in places. Several of the people I spoke with were worried about the use of herbicide as a way to keep the eucalyptus from resprouting. Here, the debate about the flammability or fire danger of an entire forest is reduced to its smallest, most arcane variables, starting with leaf chemistry. “That’s a great way to get the tree to burn,” he says. After an extensive search, I came up with four studies that concluded blue gum leaves have a heating value of about 10,000 BTU per pound, which is a little less than coal and about 1,500 BTU more than your average plant material. Eucalyptus oil is sometimes referred to as ‘fever oil’, so that’s something of a clue as to how useful it is for combating fevers! Eucalyptus trees are common in California and the warmer states of the United States. Eucalyptus Oil. A strong wind carries them throughout the surrounding area. They are also found in Australia, of which many are native. When the wind stirs the boughs, drops of last night’s fog rain down on us. Steep for 10 minutes and drink. Of those 2,000 acres, roughly 800 are dominated by blue gum—representing perhaps a quarter of the East Bay’s eucalyptus. It was immediately clear that the debate over the blue gum’s flammability is only one of several parallel conversations around the tree; while that is the Hills Conservation Network’s primary focus, it was not necessarily what most interested the individual protesters or their opponents. California hillsides were ablaze last year and it looks like a similar disaster may occur again this season. Andrew Sullivan, a bushfire expert at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, says that in Australia, dry eucalypt forest might accumulate eight to 12 tons of debris per acre. In the middle of the field is a pile of eucalyptus logs, surrounded by waist-deep thistles and grass. The eucalyptus oil does a great job in treating fever and reduce body temperature. Omeo gum (Eucalyptus neglecta), which grows in USDA zones 7 through 11 from 40 to 60 feet tall, survives temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. Lots of people are familiar with Eucalyptus as an ingredient in cold remedies like Vicks VapoRub. Leaving the eucalyptus as-is endangers thousands of homes and people and isn’t a viable option, he says. A strong wind begins blowing over the hills from the east. There are plenty of people who simply like the trees for their own sake, but the debate is also about deeper questions, like what it really means for a species to be native or nonnative, what really constitutes natural, and even whether it is hubris to imagine that humans can break our habit of wreaking unintended consequences. At this point, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop the fire, Brad Gallup says. “It’s an amazing just-so story,” he says of the possibility: “Eucalypts evolved to burn their neighbors.”. Bowman says the burn-your-neighbors theory, inspired by a 1970 paper by American forester Robert W. Mutch, suggests intent: By this reading, the eucalypts’ oil-rich leaves evolved to ignite easily; their peeling bark evolved to be carried aloft by the wind off a fire, spreading the blaze; they evolved to resprout quickly after a fire from both seed and shoot not just because they evolved in a landscape that burns frequently, but because, in some flori-sadomasochistic way, they want to be burnt. GREAT burning firewood but it must be air dried before burning. Depending on the type of wood and the conditions involved, a wood fire can begin to burn at approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but full flames typically require a heat of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Anonymous. The heat of the fire forms a convection column, with 60-mile-per-hour winds that rip burning strips of bark from the trees and toss them upward. The Hills Conservation Network, a small Berkeley nonprofit whose members live in the area covered by the FEMA grant, promptly sued FEMA to stop the grant, focusing in particular on roughly 350 acres of Oakland and UC Berkeley property in Claremont Canyon and Strawberry Canyon and around the Caldecott Tunnel, where all nonnative trees—predominately eucalyptus—would be removed. The state’s first planting of eucalyptus was made by William G. Walker at his Golden Gate Nursery at Fourth and Folsom Streets, San … The majority of these occur naturally in Australia with only a few species extending naturally into parts of Melanesia and the Philippines. After arborists thin the smaller trees, youth crews will clean up debris and hanging bark. These beautiful stately trees are filled with aromatic oil, which makes them highly combustible. But there is no peer-reviewed version of my informal test. Eucalyptus wood is resistant to rot and decay. The Sierra Club suit argues that the plan should remove more nonnative trees, that leaving eucalyptus and Monterey pine standing would mean prohibitively expensive maintenance, and that removing the trees would allow native species to flourish. Eucalyptus firewood is known for burning very hot. Grade: 2-3: Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus: Allow to season well since the wood is very wet (sappy) when fresh. Every story from Bay Nature magazine is the product of a team of people dedicated to connecting our readers to the world around them and increasing environmental literacy. We pass through the tunnel and drive into the hills. The blue gum variety were introduced around the 1850s as ornamental plants and as timber and fuel. A man in a hard hat and orange vest emerges from the bushes, then cuts through another tree. Tucked away inside a rolled-up strip of bark, a fire might live for close to an hour and fly 20 miles. His most recent article for Bay Nature was on the Resilient by Design contest and the future of the Bay’s shoreline. “I love trees,” he says. But some of it burns better. Scientists speculate that flammable eucalyptus trees evolved to be “fire friendly.” Rapidly catching fire until there is no obvious tinder allows the plant to retain most of its trunk when fire moves on to find more to burn. Some wood fires reach heats as high as 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. The East Bay Regional Park District is taking something of a middle approach to fire prevention in the eucalyptus groves it manages, thinning the trees rather than clearing them outright. Removal of the trees has been recommended largely due to eucalyptus fire damage but also because they are taking the place of native species. Eucalyptus oil helps to reduce pain and inflammation associated with many conditions. This gas is extremely flammable and the cause of many wild fires. 888-422-9628 Others were concerned that the FEMA plan was cover for native species restoration advocates. Others who live in a region where eucalyptus is prevalent have used the firewood for years, have not had any issues and love it. It naturally resists the influence of moisture because of the high oil content it naturally contains. “Blue gum eucalyptus is one of the most fire-intensive plants,” says Klatt. Sign up for our newsletter. There, the debate isn’t over whether the trees are flammable, says David Bowman, a fire ecologist at the University of Tasmania, but about whether the trees have simply evolved to survive fire, or whether they actually promote fire as a way to snuff out competitors. His writing about science and the environment has been published by Outside, Scientific American, The Atlantic, and many others. As we walk the downhill side of the road, Maloney points out what he sees as potential hazards: dry wood chips, brush that should be cleared out, a thistle-covered hillside, more sun, more wind. “The forests are beautiful. About a month after my visit to Signpost 29 with Dave Maloney, I return with Dan Grassetti, founder and director of the Hills Conservation Network, the nonprofit that’s filing suit against FEMA. Second, Maloney says removing the eucalyptus would also remove windbreaks.. The air begins to smell of fresh sawdust. That’s the idea in thinning the eucalyptus—not to prevent fire, but merely to create the possibility of keeping it from growing out of control even in those rare instances when conditions are at their worst. White Oak is a great firewood for holding a fire overnight. Make eucalyptus tea with 1/4 tsp of dried, crumbled eucalyptus leaves in paper tea bags and infuse it in a cup of boiling water. The 20-odd protesters—mostly white, mostly gray-haired—marched in a circle, holding up hand-lettered signs and photographs of butterflies and trees. Eucalyptus is a popular evergreen tree that’s widely used for its medicinal properties. Often known more for the oil extracts than the wood itself, when burned, eucalyptus takes advantage of these natural oils to achieve a high burn temperature. It's nice to mix it with less dense firewoods such as Cherry or Elm when wanting good quick daytime heat. (510) 528-8550, Subscription Customer Service: If there is a single factor that makes the blue gums a fire hazard, it is this. But even under the worst conditions, there is the possibility of containing a grass fire, he says. Eucalyptus fire hazards are also cited in efforts to remove the trees. And then from somewhere down in the woods there is the sound of a saw. The Properties of Eucalyptus Wood. I met him that morning at the park district fire station at the edge of Tilden Regional Park, and we’ve driven together into the park, stopping first at this overlook along Grizzly Peak Boulevard. Thickets of eucalyptus spring up on either side, their leaves and bell-shaped nuts cluttering the roadside. They point me repeatedly to both the 1992 Oakland mayor’s task force report and a 2013 report by the U.S. Forest Service’s Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team. And in the bigger picture, simply thinning the trees, as the park district is doing on their properties, isn’t a great solution either. This “shaded fuel-break,” as he calls it, should help slow down fires. It argued that clearing trees would actually make the hills more flammable. The leaves are also said to help a weak person Cast Off Evil; that is, to ensure a final break with wicked companions or to put a stop to personal weakness such as a drug, alcohol, or tobacco habit. Bark still hangs from trunks, awaiting the youth crews. And he imagines it catching fire. “Those areas are really hard to restore,” says Lech Naumovich, a local restoration ecologist and consultant who has worked extensively in Claremont Canyon. Steep for 10 minutes and drink. The effects of prescribed burning on soil temperatures, loss of elements from combusted litter and understorey shrubs, the chemistry of surface soil and percolating soil solutions, and on the rate of decay of subsequent litterfall have been measured in a sub-alpine Eucalyptus pauciflora-E. dalrypleana forest in the Brindabella Ranges west of Canberra. Although blue gums tend not to invade new territory, they are salt-the-earth occupiers: Along with shading out other species, their leaf litter leaches chemicals that suppress growth of native plants, even after the trees are removed. The ground is muddy. Eucalyptus is a shrubby, flowering plant with a fresh and herbaceous fragrance. We’re deep in Tilden Regional Park, standing on a fire road between a feller buncher and a chipper. But then they catch on fire.”, “The forests are beautiful. Eases Breathing Problems. Gallup considers the gum, buried in a pyre of its own debris. Share your love of Bay Area nature with a Bay Nature gift subscription and save over 30%! Oil has a higher energy density and lower ignition point than cellulose (the stuff plant cell walls and Mini Wheats are made of), and in a hot fire, these oils can boil out of the leaf and then ignite, which is why blue gums have a reputation for exploding. Temperature at and above which a liquid gives off enough flammable vapor to form a mixture with air that can be ignited by contact with a hot surface, spark, or flame. The real question, Maloney says, is “flammable compared to what?”. Native plant advocates also argue that the trees are inhospitable to many native animals and generally reduce biodiversity in areas they dominate. “We’re trying to change fire behavior, to make it easier to put the fire out, to give people more time to evacuate.” “Nature’s going to put that out.” We’re on a ridgeline above UC Berkeley, across the street from the grove in question. Eucalyptus. These hardy plants have delightfully scented, volatile oil in all parts of the plant. Fire Pit Garden Ideas: Types Of Backyard Fire Pits, Eucalyptus Tree Watering: Information On Irrigating Eucalyptus Trees, Eucalyptus Tree Types: Popular Varieties Of Eucalyptus For Landscapes, Planting A Giving Garden: Food Bank Garden Ideas, Giving To Food Deserts – How To Donate To Food Deserts, December To-Do List – What To Do In December Gardens, Wildflower Lawns: Tips On Growing Flowering Lawns, Organic Beetle Control: How To Keep Beetles From Green Beans Naturally, Killing Wandering Jew Plants: How To Get Rid Of Wandering Jew Weeds In The Garden, Different Varieties Of Magnolia: Which Magnolias Are Deciduous, Recipes From The Garden: Pressure Cooking Root Vegetables, Gratitude For The Garden – Being Grateful For Each Growing Season, 7 Reasons To Do Your Garden Shopping Locally, Thankful Beyond Words – What Represents Gratefulness In My Garden. This accelerates the eucalyptus fire hazards in a region and discourages firefighting efforts. Eucalyptus oil and fire are a match made in heaven from the fire’s perspective but a nightmare for those of us in its path. In addition to his sunburn spray described above, Dr. Axe also provides a burn salve recipe for a remedy for burns that may progress past the simple sunburn. -Brad Gallup. It wasn’t based on any specific studies, she told me, but was rather an agreement among the experts—as she recalled it, a sort of, “This is what we think. The roughly two dozen Australian and American wildfire experts, eucalyptus experts, and fire ecologists I communicated with while reporting this story (the majority of them with no personal connection to the local debate) were unanimous in their verdict: Blue gum eucalyptus is especially, dangerously flammable. “If the plan says ‘thin eucalyptus,’ then that’s what I have to do,” he says. -Brad Gallup, EBRPD fire captain. On hot days in Tasmania and blue gum’s other native regions, eucalyptus oil vaporizes in the heat. To find out where that rating came from, I followed a twisted path from document to document, each taking me a little further back in time. 2. But not today. But again, this is not necessarily more than native species—for example, coyote brush, an early-succession bush that could replace eucs in unshaded areas, has a heating value of about 8–10,000 BTU per pound, depending on the time of year. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! Fire often even seems to have a rejuvenating effect on the trees. Underneath are small oaks, bays, and smaller shrubby native species. 4 years ago. He used to be a fire chief and knows how dangerous burning eucalyptus plantations can be. Now the flames on the ground are 30 feet high and even higher off the boughs, roaring like a jet engine. In the middle of June, I attended a protest outside the Sierra Club’s national headquarters in downtown Oakland. It might look bad for a while, but with proper management nonnative grasses and brush would be replaced in a decade or two in most areas by native trees, he says. For most of the year, these trees would collect fog and slow the breeze, and they might indeed make a fire less likely, Scott Stephens says. Still others argued that removing any trees would be irresponsible in an age of climate change, and that native trees would not be able to take up the slack. “Within a very short time, you have a self-sustaining, low-cost native forest.”. Some 600 members of genus Eucalyptus dominate forests across Australia. No wonder why the eucalyptus oil is also referred to as the “fever oil.” Eucalyptus Respiratory Healing Recipes. We walk uphill along Claremont Avenue, then hike up into the eucalyptus grove. Named for the Goddess of the Moon, 'Luna' is a cold hardy Eucalyptus that is hardy in USDA Zones 7 and 8, widely reported to handle temperatures below 0 F. That said, it is not the best selection for hot and humid climates below zone 8, much preferring a cooler and drier environment. Larger pieces of wood will prove difficult to split. Eucalyptus bark is light; on the ground, it easily transmits flames. It might indeed get away, or catch houses on fire. Overall, the FEMA plan calls for about 2,500 gallons of glyphosate herbicide (a possible carcinogen), or approximately 2.5 gallons per acre, to be applied to stumps. have been in this house for 25 years.we clean the chimney every couple of years. For advocates of the FEMA plan, Signpost 29 is a good example of what will happen when eucalyptus is removed; to their opponents, it is a prime example of the folly in removing the trees. “This in here is a disaster waiting to happen,” he concludes. “But there’s a lot of fuel there, too. Bay Nature connects the people of the San Francisco Bay Area to our natural world and motivates people to solve problems with nature in mind. “But I can use my professional judgment. Cleaning a cut, burn, scrape or sore with the oil will not only protect it but also help it to heal faster. We target grass. This makes the tree’s oil a wonderful antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory, but the unbroken down material is like using kindling to start a fire. The wet leaves didn’t burn, but the dry leaves of both species flared impressively and smoked up my apartment. From unclear comparisons of leaf chemistry, we are led down progressively less rewarding or elucidating scientific rabbit holes. As a result of climate change and rising temperatures, the risk of forest fires grows accordingly. The high oil content of eucalyptus leaves also means that they burn hotter than less oily leaves. now aged 71[tomorrow in fact] 4 0. dietzen. As a result, eucalyptus is not a wood that most homeowners would choose for a wood-burning stove used for cooking. In front of us on the uphill side of the road is what looks like a group of seven trees but is really a single tree with multiple boles. Like the other Australians I spoke with, Sullivan called the Bay Area blue gums “supersized,” treated to better soils than those in nutrient-poor Australia and untrimmed by their native pests. According to a 2006 National Park Service study, that’s compared to California bay laurel trees, which average 18 tons per acre, and coast live oaks, which average just 11; an acre of grass, meanwhile, contains somewhere between one and four tons of plant material. The tree sheds bark and dead leaves, which make a perfect pile of tinder under the tree too. 1. How Hot and Cold Temperatures Affect Essential Oils If a pure essential oil is temporarily exposed to heat like if you forgot it in a hot car that reached upwards of 140 degrees, the oil would still be good as new as long as it stayed sealed until cool. One of the best reasons to choose Eucalyptus wood for your outdoor furniture or four-seasons porch is that it is exceptionally resistant to decay and rot. He was head of fire prevention at the U.S. Army base in Oakland at the time of the 1991 fire and was one of several dozen people on the Forestry and Revegetation subcommittee of the Task Force on Emergency Preparedness and Community Restoration, convened by Mayor Elihu Harris of Oakland in 1992. It kills germs and stops infections from forming. John Hunter observed, in his Treatise on the Blood, that tree sap within a tree freezes some 17 degrees Fahrenheit below its nominal freezing point. After a fire, many eucalypt species will sprout epicormic shoots along their entire trunks. What do you think?’”, “Eucalyptus is flammable. Euc-defenders point out that the leaves of native California bay laurel trees also have a high oil content. The eucalyptus trees easy recovery added with its volatile oily gasses, make it a potentially threatening species for California woodlands and similar areas known to house these trees. When the oils in the tree heat up, the plant releases flammable gas, which ignites into a fireball. The ability to retain the trunk gives the eucalyptus species a jump start on regrowing from the ashes. Its native decomposers are missing too, meaning fallen leaves and bark decay slower than usual; here, eucalyptus groves can accumulate 30 tons of debris or more per acre. 5 years ago. So do all the experts I spoke with, including the ones with no prior knowledge of the FEMA grant. Leaves or other components, meanwhile, can tell you only so much about the whole, and individual trees only so much about the forest. In view of the large amount of eucalyptus trees present in arid areas, we focus in this study on the investigation of using eucalyptus biodiesel as fuel in diesel engine. Like the other Australian fire ecologists and eucalyptus experts I spoke with, though, Bowman called the genus in general, and blue gum in particular, extremely flammable. Like many of the trees in this forest, it was cut after the hard frost of 1972. Header illustrations by Jane Kim, InkDwell, Bay Nature Institute Trees not only put a lot of fuel on the ground as they shed bark, leaves and twigs, but in intense fires, volatile compounds in foliage cause explosive burning. In the same way that blowing on a campfire will rouse the coals, wind increases the amount of oxygen to a fire and hastens its spread. You get away from stress, smell the smells, see the birds. dont burn pine. But it is plenty complicated on its own. Tasmanian blue gums, Eucalyptus globulus, don’t like cold. “We’re in our infancy in understanding how flammability can be practically measured and scaled up,” he says. There are some native eucalyptus but the majority have been introduced. Broadly, the protest was about the Sierra Club’s perceived hypocrisy; the environmentalist organization is also suing FEMA as a sort of countersuit to the Hills Conservation Network’s pro-euc suit. Furthermore, the majority of the blue gum litter is small sticks, bark, and leaves, collectively known as “fine fuels.” These fine fuels are the source of a forest fire’s power, Sullivan says, easily ignited and quickly consumed. Native plants, on the other hand, having evolved here over millennia, are better adapted to local conditions, they say. Finally, Maloney says, cutting the trees would make the hills drier, both by increasing the amount of sun hitting the ground and because the trees collect condensation on their leaves. In the event that a fire does destroy the aboveground parts of the tree, it can send up new shoots from lignotubers, nutrient-filled organs hidden among its roots. Eucalyptus leaves are widely believed to effectively Ward Off Evil and Repel Enemies who are troubling your home or job. “Every piece of vegetation is flammable,” he says. It’s not personal. We drive along the ridgeline and re-enter the park, and into what looks and feels like a vast eucalyptus forest. Now it is regrown with native willows, bays, oaks—the species that advocates of the FEMA plan insist will, with some human help, replace the eucalypts—as well as redwoods, nonnative thistle, fennel, and broom. Bay Nature’s email newsletter delivers local nature stories, hikes, and events to your inbox each week. Variables that determine the temperature of a wood fire include the wood species and the water content of the wood before … But now, standing by Grassetti’s favorite tree, even this most damning of blue gum statistics seems woefully abstract. “This is my favorite tree,” Grassetti says, giving it a slap on the trunk. On hot days in Tasmania and blue gum’s other native regions, eucalyptus oil vaporizes in the heat. It is true, he says, that—as Maloney argues—a fire would spread through the grass covering the hillside on this side of the road much faster than through the eucalyptus opposite. A UC press release stated that the fire hazard mitigation work in Strawberry and Claremont canyons “will be delayed for an indefinite period.”, Zach St. George, a freelance reporter in Baltimore, is the author of The Journeys of Trees: A Story About Forests, People, and the Future. Eucalyptus conjures images of Australia, whose old-growth forests primarily consist of this large, strong tree. Most varieties are native to Australia. We drive next to Signpost 29, for another view of the possible future. Vaporization Temperature: 266°F/130°C Properties: Antiseptic, expectorant, stimulates local blood flow, anti-fungal. This page lists some of those species suitable for growing in the colder regions of t… He has also independently researched the costs of eucalyptus removal and management. Both the FEMA impact statement and Wolf and DiTomaso’s study list the source of the ignitability rating as a 2009 wildfire hazard reduction and vegetation management report by California-based environmental consultants LSA Associates, prepared for the East Bay Regional Park District. “Anybody who wants to encourage really flammable plants in an urban mix has to do it with their eyes open,” David Bowman told me. When a tree dies, dozens of new ones appear. (For context, a single kitchen match is worth about one BTU.). “We’re trying to change fire behavior,” he says, “to make it easier to put the fire out, to give people more time to evacuate.”. By contrast, the trees would only need to be cleared and the stumps treated with herbicide once, he says. They call the eucs bad neighbors. It’s clear that fire benefits the trees. The Vicks VapoRub smell of blue gum forests comes from the oils in their foliage, oils that fire ecologist consultant Carol Rice says can be as much as a fifth of a eucalyptus leaf’s dry weight. “This one I made a promise to, that I was not going to let any harm come to it. (It’s also why, even in the hottest fire, it’s almost always a tree’s branches and leaves burning, not its trunk.) The ground below this tree is littered with its rooster-tail leaves and cinnamon-stick tubes of bark. On the other side of the debate, the Bay Area’s many native plant advocates have their own long list of complaints, also mostly separate from the debate about the trees’ flammability. we burn mainly eucalyptus. We walk back down the hill, sliding in the mud. But, as with the BTU comparisons, there are few applicable apples-to-apples (or blue-gums-to-bay-laurels) studies of ignitability in the Bay Area. Today eucalypts are to be found growing in many parts of the world for their timber and horticultural appeal. The shower of firebrands tossed from the ridgeline by the 100-foot-tall trees foils any attempt to create a firebreak.
2020 eucalyptus burning temperature