The Rainbow Eucalyptus tree is a strikingly colourful eucalypt which originated from South East Asia (the native distribution covered: New Britain, New Guinea, Ceram, Sulawesi and Mindanao) (1). It is a member of the family Myrtaceae, and it can now be found growing throughout the tropics, because as well as being beautiful, it is a very fast growing timber species and is also used as a shade tree for growing coffee. The multi-coloured bark is produced by the shedding of patches of bark, which first reveal a bright green inner bark. This then changes to give blue, purple, orange and maroon tones as it presumably dries out and is eventually shed.
I am not sure why the colours occur; perhaps they are related to the essential oils which eucalyptus trees contain. I took these photographs of a tree which was in the Headquarters of the lovely Doi Sutep-Pui National Park, located near the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
I discovered another WordPress blog – Ink Chromatography – which features this tree and is well worth reading (2).
1) Eucalyptus deglupta. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/AFTPDFS/Eucalyptus_deglupta.pdf
2) Trees in Polychrome. http://inkchromatography.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/trees-in-polychrome/
I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.