12 Popular Gum Tree Species

Rainbow eucalyptus with tan trunks and green foliage
ShaneMyersPhoto / Getty Images

Within the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family of plants, three genera contain shrub and tree species commonly known as gum trees: Eucalyptus (the majority of gum species), Angophora, and Corymbia. The latter was included in the Eucalyptus genus up until the 1990s, and some sources may still identify it as belonging to that genus. Whatever group they're in, gum trees gained their name because they ooze visible amounts of thick, gummy sap if the trunk surface is damaged. Note that sweetgums (Liquidambar spp.) and black gums (Nyssa sylvatica) are not related.

Almost all gum trees are native to Australia, where they're the primary food of koalas. Over time, they've been cultivated in other tropical regions around the world, and some gum trees can even live in cooler locations such as Norway. However, in some regions, gums are considered an invasive species.

Gum trees, which are readily identifiable by their smooth or stringy bark and lance-shaped leaves, have a variety of applications. Oil from gum tree leaves is used in many medications, and some people even like to chew on hardened chunks of sap. Honey is made by bees that visit the trees, and many species have wood that's useful as lumber. In landscaping, gums are typically used as shade trees or specimen trees. Often as a way to recover from fires, some species form a lignotuber, an underground root tuber with buds that can produce new trunk stems as needed. A tree with this structure is called a mallee.

Here are 12 popular gum species to consider.

Warning

Despite the enticing aroma, eucalyptus leaves and bark are poisonous to humans and most animals (though not to koalas, which feast on them). The oils in eucalyptus can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if too much is ingested. It's even possible for a coma to occur. The oil from the leaves can cause a skin irritation, but this is rarely serious.

  • 01 of 12

    Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus)

    Blue gum trees with pale trunks and green foliage
    metriognome / Getty Images

    The blue gum, also known as the common eucalyptus, is the most frequently planted eucalyptus in the world. The shabby-barked tree has blue-green leaves and the distinctive menthol scent common to many gum species. This towering specimen, with a diameter of as much as 7 feet, produces a flammable litter on the ground and thus is a notable danger in areas prone to wildfires. In some places (especially California), the blue gum is considered invasive, and planting it is discouraged.

    • Native Area: Southeastern Australia, Tasmania
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 98–230 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 02 of 12

    Dwarf Apple (Angophora hispida)

    White and yellow flowers of the dwarf apple gum tree
    KarenHBlack / Getty Images

    As the species name hispida (which means "bristly") indicates, this tree has red bristles on its stems and new leaves. The dwarf apple, also known as the scrub apple, is a smaller gum tree type and looks somewhat like a juvenile apple tree, a resemblance responsible for the common name. It doesn't have the menthol scent found in many gum trees. The trunk is twisted, and it blooms with clusters of white flowers in late fall and early winter. This tree may also be found as a mallee, forming a base tuber from which it can resprout.

    • Native Area: New South Wales, Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11
    • Height: Up to 25 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 03 of 12

    Lemon-Scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora)

    Lemon-scented gums with gray bark and green foliage
    Manfred Gottschalk / Getty Images

    This tree features leaves with a strong lemon scent that can be used as an insect repellant. The lemon-scented gum is a tall specimen formerly classified as a eucalyptus species, with the aromatic leaves common to that genus. The bark is white to pinkish-copper, shedding in thin flakes, and the lance-shaped leaves are glossy green. The tree has an elegant, stately shape that makes it a favorite in public gardens and large landscapes. This species forms a lignotuber.

    • Native Area: Northeastern Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11
    • Height: Up to 150 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 04 of 12

    Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis)

    Manna gum tree with white bark and green foliage
    ArtEvent ET / Getty Images

    The smooth, powdery bark on the manna gum, also known as white gum or ribbon gum, comes off in hanging strips, making it unmistakable. The common name derives from the white powdery substance that falls from the tree's new leaves, which is sweet in taste and was once used by indigenous peoples of Australia. This is one of the few gum tree types that can tolerate cooler climates.

    • Native Area: Southeastern Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8–11
    • Height: 100–150 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
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  • 05 of 12

    Rainbow Gum (Eucalyptus deglupta)

    Rainbow gum tree with variegated brown park and green leaves
    twildlife / Getty Images

    The sole eucalyptus species from north of the Equator, the rainbow gum features spectacular bark. The orange-tinted bark peels away to reveal hues of green, yellow, and purplish-brown below the surface. This gum tree type is grown commercially for pulpwood but is also used as an ornamental landscape tree in frost-free climates.

    • Native Area: Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 200–250 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 06 of 12

    Red Cap Gum (Eucalyptus erythrocorys)

    Vibrant yellow flowers and red buds of the red cap gum tree
    KarenHBlack / Getty Images

    The red cap gum is a relatively small gum, with a low spreading canopy that sags under the weight of large bell-shaped fruit. A scarlet cap covers the yellow blossoms before they open, lending the tree its common name. Another species that can be a mallee, red cap gum trees are attractive to birds, but the limbs are prone to breaking.

    • Native Area: Western Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 10–30 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 07 of 12

    Red Flowering Gum (Corymbia ficifolia)

    Red flowering Gum tree with red flowers and green leaves


    Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    The species name ficifolia indicates that the leaves of this tree are similar to those found on ficus trees. Like many other species in the Myrtaceae family, the blooms of the red flowering gum contain stamens with no petals. Bright red, pink, or orange flowers appear in winter and spring, making this one of the more popular gum species for landscape use. It belongs to a category of eucalyptus known as a bloodwood, named for the color of its sap.

    • Native Area: Western Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 25–40 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 08 of 12

    Salmon Gum (Eucalyptus salmonophloia)

    Salmon gum tree with salmon-colored bark and dark green foliage

     

    Australian Scenics / Getty Images

    A good choice for regions with poor, salty soil, the salmon gum tree sports smooth salmon-colored bark during the summer that turns gray in the winter. Though not a common landscape tree, this gum type has a variety of practical uses, from firewood to furniture-making.

    • Native Area: Western Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 50–100 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
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  • 09 of 12

    Silver Dollar Gum (Eucalyptus cinerea)

    Silver dollar gum tree branches in a silver-blue hue
    Etsy

    Juvenile sprigs from the silver dollar gum tree are often used in the floral design industry, as are the young leaves of another species known by the same common name, Eucalyptus polyanthemos. The silver dollar gum grows fast enough in one season (6–8 feet) to work as a large annual in cooler areas. 

    • Native Area: Southeastern Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8–11
    • Height: 20–50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 10 of 12

    Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma)

    Scribbly gum tree with squiggle marks in its pale bark
    Ken Griffiths / Getty Images

    The scribbly gum tree's name is inspired by the squiggly lines of tunnels left by scribbly gum moth larvae as they burrow in the bark. Other species that can be affected by the scribbly gum moth (and are also known as scribbly gum) include Eucalyptus sclerophylla, Eucalyptus rossii, Eucalyptus racemosa, and Eucalyptus signata. This plant has attractive, twisted branches that make it an excellent specimen tree. It does well in poor, sandy soils but adapts well to any soil that is well-drained.

    • Native Area: Southeastern Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 40–50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 11 of 12

    Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)

    Snow gum trees multicolored bark
    Ignacio Palacios / Getty Images

    The snow gum can survive in cold regions, even where there's snow—thus its common name. This tree is not true to its species name, however, which translates to "few flowers." The name may have been erroneously chosen because the European botanist who cataloged the plant, Franz Wilhelm Sieber, came across an atypical specimen with an unusually low number of flowers or because his collected specimen lost flowers in transit. Regardless, the snow gum tree has ample clusters of white flowers as well as smooth white, gray, or yellow bark that sheds in ribbons and sometimes has insect scribbles. It often forms a lignotuber.

    • Native Area: Southeastern Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10
    • Height: 30–100 feet; depending on subspecies
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 12 of 12

    Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata)

    Spotted gum trees with pale bark and green leaves
    lovleah / Getty Images

    Featuring lemon-scented leaves, the spotted gum tree is endemic to Australia. The smooth, mottled bark forms a distinctive spotted pattern. A favorite food source for rainbow lorikeet birds, this large tree works well in parks or as a street tree but is too massive to be practical for most home landscapes.

    • Native Area: Southeastern Australia
    • USDA Growing Zones: Unknown; likely 9–11
    • Height: 150–200 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun