Strawberry Gum – Eucalyptus olida
The air was a wash with the distinctive strawberry aroma (methyl cinnamate) of this species as I stepped out of my car when I went in search of it recently.
Endemic to the northern tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, Strawberry Gum is a medium-sized tree to 20 metres (65 ft). The bark is fibrous on mature trees. Flowers are cream coloured and are followed by small woody capsules. The juvenile leaves are ovate (7 cm long) and dull green. Adult leaves are lanceolate and glossy green (to 17 cm).
The highly aromatic leaves are used in the native cuisine industry “bush food” as a dried spice, particularly with fruit and in beverages, such as herbal teas.
The extracted oil being 98% pure methyl cinnamate will crystalise upon cooling and needs to be diluted for topical or perfumery use to prevent solidifcation and to tame down the extremely heady and somewhat overpowering aroma. The hydrosol however is soft, fruity & far more agreeable.
Plantation grown material has replaced wild harvested for the food trade and as new plantations come on line we should expect to see this aromatic more readily available.