When we think of trees, we typically reserve bright oranges and deep reds to leaves making their way down in autumn. It is an intriguing sight to see as the burst of color ignites a sense of wonder marking the change to come. However, these gentle giants are more than meets the eye. Native to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, rainbow eucalyptus trees shed their bark revealing breathtaking colors.
The rainbow colors don’t appear all at once. Upon shedding, the rainbow eucalyptus tree bark is a deep green color. It changes with time revealing hues of rusty reds, bright oranges, deep browns, yellows, and even maroons. Depending on where they’re grown, some look extremely bright and even artificial while others have a pastel-like tone. The eucalyptus tree is also seen in parts of Hawaii and has been grown in areas outside of their native land. However, it is not likely that they’ll appear as vibrant in new territories due to the difference in soil.
Belonging to the family of Eucalyptus, the Eucalyptus deglupta grows fast reaching heights up to 100-150 feet. In areas outside of its native habitat, these rainbow beauties reach 60-80 feet.
Rainbow eucalyptus trees are typically harvested for wood pulp to produce paper rather than oil.
There isn’t a lot of research behind why these trees create a rainbow effect. Botany professor, David Lee, at Florida International University has researched color production in plants. According to Professor Lee, the bark contains chlorophyll—a green pigment that traps light energy used in photosynthesis.
“When you look at the tree trunk, you are seeing these multiple thin layers of bark, from the older layers peeling away to reveal younger layers,” Lee mentions.
When the trunk ages and the bark sheds, the outermost layer fills with a pigment called tannis. This combination mixed with the reduction of chlorophyll could be the reason behind the rainbow effect on the tree.
In a world that is constantly evolving, the changing colors of trees—whether it be their leaves or bark—represent the burst of beauty behind every road to death and rebirth.
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