The rainbow eucalyptus tree

Can You Grow A Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree?

People fall in love with rainbow eucalyptus the first time they see it. Intense color and astringent fragrance make the tree unforgettable, but it’s not for everyone. Here are a few things you should know before you rush out to buy one of these outstanding beauties.

Where Do Rainbow Eucalyptus Grow?

Rainbow eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) is the only eucalyptus tree indigenous to the northern hemisphere. It grows in the Philippines, New Guinea, and Indonesia where it thrives in tropical forests that get a lot of rain. The tree grows up to 250 feet tall in its native environment.

In the U.S., rainbow eucalyptus grows in the frost-free climates found in Hawaii and the southern portions of California, Texas and Florida. It is suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and higher. In the continental U.S., the tree only grows to heights of 100 to 125 feet. Although this is only about half the height it can reach in its native range, it is still a massive tree.

Can You Grow a Rainbow Eucalyptus?

Aside from climate, rainbow eucalyptus growing conditions include full sun and moist soil. Once established, the tree grows 3 feet per season without supplemental fertilizer, although it needs regular watering when rainfall is insufficient.

The most outstanding feature of a rainbow eucalyptus tree is its bark. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue and gray. Although the tree’s color isn’t as intense outside its native range, rainbow eucalyptus bark color makes it one of the most amazingly colorful trees you can grow.

So, can you grow a rainbow eucalyptus? If you live in a frost-free area that receives ample rainfall, you probably can, but the real question is whether you should. Rainbow eucalyptus is a huge tree that is out of scale for most home landscapes. It can cause property damage as its raised roots break up sidewalks, damage foundations and raise small structures, such as sheds.

The tree is better suited to open areas, like parks and fields, where it provides excellent shade as well as fragrance and beauty.

Rainbow Eucalyptus: 15 Pictures of the World’s Most Colorful Tree

It may look like something out of a fantastic dream or perhaps one very ambitious art project, but we assure you the rainbow eucalyptus is very much real and very much completely natural. Known scientifically as the Eucalyptus deglupta, the tall tree is found in New Guinea and its surrounding islands. Its distinctive coloring is caused when it shreds its bark periodically throughout the year. The revealed inner bark is bright green, which changes hue to blue, purple, orange, and finally maroon tones as it matures. The tree is valued for both ornamental reasons as well as for its pulp. Enjoy the pictures, and be sure to check out the video about the tree at the end of the page!

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Image Credit: amusingplanet

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Image Credit: Christopher Martin

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Image Credit: Amanda Pape

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Image Credit: tree-nation

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Image Credit: Roberto Verzo

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Image Credit: dingtwist

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Image Credit: amusingplanet

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Image Credit: tree-nation

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Image Credit: Christopher Martin

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Image Credit: Christopher Martin

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Image Credit: Internet Age Traveler

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Image Credit: dingtwist

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Image Credit: Allpe

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Rainbow eucalyptus trees – Picture of Open Eye Tours & Photos, Makawao

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Of all of the natural wonders it’s possible to experience in Hawaii, the rainbow eucalyptus may represent one of the most striking. These magical trees, which periodically also produce small white flowers, feature multicolored bark vibrant and unusual enough to make you think you’ve stepped into a fairy tale.

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/608197124647363764/

A Tree of Many Colors

With a lifespan of 50 to 100 years, this extraordinary tree is the only eucalyptus indigenous to the northern hemisphere. Also referred to as the Mindanao gum or rainbow gum, it was originally found only in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, but now finds a home on each of the four major Hawaiian Islands.

The rainbow eucalyptus is of course most revered for its streaked, colorful bark, a phenomenon that occurs as the tree sheds its brown outer layer, revealing bright green layers beneath. This fresh wood slowly transforms from dark green to blue, then to purple, orange, and reddish tones before transitioning back to brown and shedding again, starting the process anew. With different areas of the tree in different phases of the cycle at any given time, the trunks are consistently painted in a myriad of intense hues.

Photo credit: photommo on Flickr

History in Hawaii

The first rainbow eucalyptus specimens introduced to Hawaii, planted in the Wahiawa Botanical Garden on Oahu as part of a reforestation movement, arrived from the Philippines in 1929. Although the exact explanation for their arrival on other islands is less clear, some may have been planted to help control soil erosion.

In other parts of the world, this fast-growing giant (which may reach 100 to over 200 feet in height with a diameter of six feet in its native surroundings) serves as a source of pulp for paper, or as a hardwood for furniture-making. In the Hawaiian Islands, the rainbow eucalyptus acts primarily as an ornamental shade tree, standing out even amidst all the beauty surrounding it.

Photo credit: kenlund on Flickr

Maui’s Hana Highway

The Hana Highway, a coastal road connecting the Paia area with the remote east Maui town of Hana, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. This curvy route follows a series of switchbacks with views of sea cliffs, waterfalls, rainforests, and bamboo groves. Clusters of rainbow eucalyptus also dot this otherwordly landscape, most notably just before mile marker seven on the left side of the road, where it’s worth your time to park the car and walk out for a visit. Soon after mile marker 16, it’s also possible to see the trees within the Keanae Arboretum.

Kauai

If you happen to spend your vacation on the lush north shore of Kauai, you can easily access a cluster of rainbow eucalyptus along the Princeville walking/jogging path, a two-mile stretch (which will eventually be fully paved) from the Princeville Center to the St. Regis Princeville Resort. This fairly flat path runs along Ka Haku Road, with shady spots and lovely views of the ocean and the Makai Golf Course along the way.

The Keahua Arboretum in Wailua, on Kauai’s east coast, provides another opportunity to see these unique trees. Just after the spillway at the arboretum entrance, a rainbow eucalyptus grove on the left offers ideal surroundings for a picnic or a hike.

Oahu and the Big Island

To this day, a stop at Wahiawa Botanical Garden on the route between Honolulu and Oahu’s North Shore gives nature lovers a chance to marvel at the rainbow eucalyptus. The magnificent trees also line the driveway at Dole Plantation and can be spotted at the Honolulu Zoo. Although perhaps less common on the Big Island, they can most easily be viewed by booking a Kona Cloud Forest guided walking tour.

Ready to see these stunners for yourself? Browse our Maui vacation rental options here and our Kauai options here. Click here for accommodations on Oahu, and here for Big Island homes and condos.

Rainbow Eucalyptus

​Eucalyptus deglupta

  • Family name: Myrtaceae
  • Origin: rainforests of New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippine Islands (Island of Mindanao)
  • Height: 100’ – 125’ in continental U.S.
  • Spread: Up to 6’
  • Only Eucalyptus species with a natural range that extends into the northern hemisphere
  • Best noted for its smooth orange-tinted trunk bark which peels in summer to reveal a unique, g multi-colored bark consisting of streaks of pale green, red, orange, gray and purple-brown, outside tropical settings, the bark is typically much less colorful
  • Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 where this tree will grow well in rich, medium to wet soils in full sun, should be protected from freezes, but they can withstand light frost conditions for short periods of time
  • May grow 8 to 10 feet in a growing season, and even more with extremely good care.
  • Acuminate, lance-shaped leaves (to 6″ long) are aromatic when crushed.
  • Tiny white blooms at various times during the year depending upon location
  • Ideal growing location is near freshwater ponds, lakes, or canals, mature trees can survive and grow in drier areas, but they become their most luxuriant when they have access to abundant moisture
  • Largely pest-free

The Enchanting Forest In Hawaii That’s Loaded With Beautiful Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees

While you will find rainbow eucalyptus trees scattered across Maui, including at the Ke’anae Arboretum and just before Hana town, the most well-known grove, which is the one we’re featuring today, is found near Mile Marker 7 along the Hana Highway. The trees can be hard to spot in the dense rainforest, so if you want to be sure to experience this enchanting forest up close, we suggest going on a road to Hana tour. A guide can safely show you where to find these rainbow trees as well as many other hidden gems. Though these trees may look as though they’ve been painted, this colorful bark is all natural. These spectacularly colored trees are called Eucalyptus Deglupta, also known as the Mindanao Gum or Rainbow gum trees. The multi-colored streaks on its trunk results in patches of outer bark that are shed annually at different times, showing off the vibrant green inner bark. The patches darken and mature to reveal blue, purple, orange, and maroon tones. The trees are native to the Phillippines but were introduced to Hawaii decades ago. The Rainbow Eucalyptus tree was first planted in Hawaii in 1929 at Oahu’s Wahiawa Botanical Garden as part of the islands’ reforestation efforts, though it is unknown how these painted gum trees were introduced to the rainforest of Hana. Some speculate the trees were planted in the 1930s to control soil erosion due to overlogging while others believe they were planted as a source of lumber and fuel for the sugarcane industry. Despite their ethereal beauty and wonderful smell, these trees are invasive and can grow an average of six feet per year. The trees can reach heights of up to 200 feet in height and 95 inches in diameter. Both Amateur and professional photographers as well as nature lovers of all kinds quickly fall in love with this one-of-a-kind destination, and it’s easy to see why. This painted forest is truly a sight to behold, and it should not be overlooked on your Hana Highway Road Trip.

Trees are amazing organisms, providing shelter, shade and fruit — and even communicating with each other via fungi. The bark of certain trees can even bear colours of the rainbow, as seen in the stunning species Eucalyptus deglupta, commonly called the “rainbow eucalyptus” or “Mindanao gum.”

Roberto Verzo/CC BY 2.0

Native to the tropical regions of New Britain, New Guinea, Seram, Sulawesi and Mindanao, the rainbow eucalyptus is a extremely large, broadleaved evergreen tree and is the only eucalyptus species indigenous to the northern hemisphere. It grows lightning quick, being able to double its size every year, before reaching a trunk diameter of 6 feet and soaring to heights above 200 feet!Forest and Kim Starr/CC BY 2.0

The most extraordinary feature is its vibrantly coloured bark, bits of which are discarded every year at various intervals, revealing bright green inner bark (phloem) that eventually matures and changes into rainbow-hued blues, reds, oranges and purple-browns in the summer.

Forest and Kim Starr/CC BY 2.0
Rictor Norton & David Allen/CC BY 2.0

Though the tree can be grown in ornamental gardens (its colours showing best in tropical or subtropical places), its wood is often used for paper pulp in countries like the Philippines. Here is are images of the tree’s leave and flowers.

Forest and Kim Starr/CC BY 2.0
Forest and Kim Starr/CC BY 2.0

The seeds of the rainbow eucalyptus are smaller than an ant — but can be germinated at home, as this video below shows.

UPDATE: Commenter Steven S. writes to tell us that in most if not all U.S. states, the rainbow eucalyptus is considered an invasive species outside of its native range, and you may be cited and fined for growing them, or asked to cut them down. So please view the video below for merely educational purposes only.

Beautiful and vividly arresting, the rainbow eucalyptus is yet another giant wonder of nature that shows that trees come in all shapes, sizes and colours. For more info on incredible trees, check our links below.

Eucalyptus Tree Bark Stock Photos and Images

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  • Eucalyptus tree bark detail
  • Eucalypt bark
  • Macro shot of eucalyptus tree bark texture for use as natural background
  • Close up of the colorful bark of a eucalyptus tree.
  • Eucalyptus tree bark
  • Peeling Bark of Eucalyptus Tree In Garden England
  • Colorful bark on the trunk of a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus deglupta), Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila. Snow gum tree bark. UK
  • Bark and tree trunk of the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus deglupta) at Keahua Arboretum in Kauai, Hawaii, USA
  • Colorful Eucalyptus tree trunk, Costa Rica
  • Eucalyptus dalrympleana. Mountain gum tree trunks
  • Eucalyptus bark
  • Eucalyptus Tree Bark Andalucia Spain
  • Colorful Abstract Pattern of Eucalyptus Tree Bark
  • Eucalyptus tree bark, Dyffryn Fernant garden,Fishguard,Pembrokeshire,South Wales
  • Eucalyptus near Narrandera new South Wales Australia
  • Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila. Snow gum tree bark. Monchrome
  • Eucalyptus, Gum Tree, north of Madeira island, Portugal
  • Eucalyptus tree bark, Keaiwa Heiau State Park, Oahu, Hawaii.
  • Full Frame Shot Of Eucalyptus Tree Bark
  • Closeup of Eucalyptus tree bark showing colors and textures.
  • Eucalyptus tree bark, Morro Bay, California, USA
  • Moth larva trails on gum tree bark
  • Eucalyptus Tree Bark Texture
  • Eucalyptus tree bark in a variety of colors on a tree in Cotacachi, Ecuador
  • Eucalyptus tree bark.
  • Colorful Eucalypt Bark, Tasmania, Australia
  • Detail of colorful bark of Rainbow Eucalyptus tree
  • Bark of the Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Deglupta)
  • Bark of a Eucalyptus Tree
  • Eucalyptus Tree Bark Surface Texture
  • Close up of Eucalyptus Tree Bark Andalucia Spain
  • Colorful Abstract Pattern of Eucalyptus Tree Bark
  • Eucalyptus tree bark, Dyffryn Fernant garden,Fishguard,Pembrokeshire,South Wales
  • Shedding bark from a eucalyptus tree gathered at the base of the tree trunk
  • Peeling bark on trunks of Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila (snow gum) tree, Barnsdale Gardens, Rutland, England, UK
  • Eucalyptus, Gum Tree, north of Madeira island, Portugal
  • Eucalyptus tree bark, Keaiwa Heiau State Park, Oahu, Hawaii.
  • Balboa Park, San Diego, California – Eucalyptus trees.
  • Closeup of Eucalyptus tree bark showing colors and textures.
  • Eucalyptus tree bark, Morro Bay, California, USA
  • closeup of eucalyptus rainbow tree or eucalyptus deglupta with exfoliating bark
  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo, adult female with Eucalyptus bark, Mount Lofty, South Australia, Australia, (Macropus giganteus)
  • Bark peeling off from the trunk of a lemon scented gum (Corymbia citriodora) eucalyptus tree
  • Eucalyptus tree bark peeling off and hanging from branches
  • close up texture shot of eucalyptus tree bark for textures
  • Eucalyptus tree bark on the trunk. Texture detail close up
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree (Eucalyptus Deglupta)
  • Eucalyptus tree bark in wet temperate forest, with understory shrubs, Tasmania
  • Eucalyptus and its bark in the park. Domaine de Maure-Vieil, Mandelieu-La Napoule, French Riviera, France
  • Close up of Eucalyptus Tree Bark Andalucia Spain
  • Colorful Abstract Pattern of Eucalyptus Tree Bark
  • Eucalyptus tree bark, Bowling Green Bay National Park (Alligator Creek), Townsville, QLD, Australia
  • Abstract eucalyptus tree bark showing the deep serrations and paper-like texture at Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
  • Detail of snowgum bark, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW, Australia
  • Eucalyptus bark Photographed in Queensland, Australia
  • Colourful bark of an eucalyptus tree
  • Soft focus of eucalyptus tree bark creates abstract patterns
  • Painted Eucalyptus Tree Bark Close Up Stripes in Red Green Gray and Brown
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree bark on the Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA
  • Hybiscus flower and painted eucalyptus tree bark. Kauai, Hawaii
  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo, adult female with Eucalyptus bark, Mount Lofty, South Australia, Australia, (Macropus giganteus)
  • Colorful Eucalyptus bark showing grain and textures.
  • Detail of colorful bark of Rainbow Eucalyptus tree
  • Highly textured eucalyptus tree bark
  • Eucalyptus tree bark on the trunk. Texture detail close up
  • Peaceful Grove of Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees (Eucalyptus Deglupta)
  • Eucalyptus bark New South Wales Australia
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) Tree Bark, Hawaii, USA
  • Close up of Eucalyptus Tree Bark Andalucia Spain
  • Multicolored Eucalyptus Tree Bark
  • The multi-colored bark of a Eucalyptus tree looks like an abstract painting in Arenal National Park, Costa Rica
  • Abstract eucalyptus tree bark showing the deep serrations and paper-like texture at Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
  • Eucalyptus tree
  • Detail of bark on Eucalyptus tree.
  • A close-up of the colorful bark of a eucalyptus tree.
  • Two Lemons hanging on a lemon tree
  • The brightly colored trunk of a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree in Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree bark on the Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA
  • Hybiscus flower and painted eucalyptus tree bark. Kauai, Hawaii
  • Detail, bark of eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus), Australia
  • A eucalyptus tree trunk sheds it’s bark, Napa county, California, USA.
  • Detail of colorful bark of Rainbow Eucalyptus tree
  • Highly textured eucalyptus tree bark
  • Eucalyptus tree bark on the trunk. Texture detail close up
  • A Eucalyptus tree in the Snowy mountains, Australia.
  • Eucalyptus robusta Tree in Arboretum of the Domaine du Rayol Botanical Garden Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer Var Provence France
  • Vivid colours on the bark of a Eucalyptus tree, Barrington Tops, Australia
  • Close up of Eucalyptus Tree Bark Andalucia Spain
  • Multicolored Eucalyptus Tree Bark
  • Eucalyptus tree showing bare bark and foliage – Basilicata, Italy.
  • Abstract eucalyptus tree bark showing the deep serrations and paper-like texture at Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
  • Eucalyptus tree
  • Morning mist in gum trees, Biboorah, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, FNQ, QLD, Australia
  • A close-up of the colorful bark of a eucalyptus tree.
  • Strong pattern of bark on the trunk of Eucalyptus tree in Alpiine National Park.
  • Eucalyptus deglupta (Rainbow Eucalyptus), Mindanao Gum
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree bark on the Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA
  • Bark of gum tree, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand
  • Eucalyptus tree bark closeup background texture

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