Rainbow Eucalyptus

Behold the rainbow eucalyptus tree. These trees are native to Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, and were brought to the Hawaiian islands in the early part of the 20th century. They are massive trees found in tropical rainforests that get a lot of rain, growing to 250 feet tall. But what makes them stand out is their bark.

Most trees I’m familiar with have brown trunks that range from reddish to dark brown; and of course, there are birch and aspen trees with white bark. The rainbow eucalyptus though, look like an artist’s canvas or something out of a fairy tale. The bark of the eucalyptus is full of bright, multi-colored patterns. No two are the same.

That, of course, begs the question, why are they so colorful? It turns out that as a tree sheds its bark (throughout the year), it reveals a bright green layer underneath. Then, air and sunlight react with the bark. This reaction causes the bark to change to different shades of green, orange, blue, purple, and red. Since the tree doesn’t shed all at the same time, the colors on the bark are constantly changing as exposed areas begin to age. The patterns never repeat.