This is another of the Australian trees from Leu, the Red Box Tree Eucalyptus polyanthemos. It is growing companionably next to the Bloodwood and near another expat, the pretty lacy leaved Silky Oak, which is not an oak at all but a Grevillea robusta.
There are several other big Eucalyptus trees which tower above many of the locals. You have to either look skywards to see them or you might notice their sensuous smooth white trunks, so touchable and so beautiful. I am not sure of their particular variety.
This Red Box Eucalyptus is a small tree, or rather I should say, a young tree, as it still has its juvenile foliage the pretty fluttering grey green leaves which earn it the name Silver Dollar Gum. These disc shaped leaves with a notch in the top, some looking like little hearts, will give way to the longer slimmer mature leaves. I am not sure I know of any other species of tree where there is such a marked difference in young and mature foliage. The eucalypts are another very ancient species along with the cycads and the ginkgos, tracing their ancestry back some 35 million years.
It’s late in the afternoon when I am drawing and my main drawing light is casting long shadows, which I liked, so that’s just how I drew this little sprig of eucalyptus leaves and, unlike yesterday’s pods, these really do have that wonderful aromatic scent. I once picked up a few fallen eucalyptus pods and leaves in Portugal and kept them in a small box. Opening this box several years later released not only that heady smell but also the memory of some hot painting days in Portugal. I remember the old ruined house, the donkey, the enigmatic ancient handprint in old plaster, the exact spot I picked them up, the friends, the heat….. and more and more. All that in 2 leaves and a pod. Now, every time I smell eucalyptus that’s where I go.
**For much more info about the eucalyptus, do visit Gustavo Iglesias’ excellent site Eucalptologics