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Our Beautiful Planet

April 13, 2017

Mother Nature's color-bomb tree is not a hallucination or a hoax. The rainbow eucalyptus is a true miracle of nature and as real as rainbows in the sky - though the tree will still be there in the morning.

Rainbow eukalyptus tree detail
Rainbow eukalyptus tree trunkImage: DW/T. Rooks

The rainbow eucalyptus is one of the most suprising and majestic plants in the world. It is surely the most colorful - its peeling bark reveals layers and layers of spectacular hues. It is a living work of art.

Officially called Eucalyptus Deglupta, the tree is more commonly known as the "rainbow eucalyptus" or the "Mindanao gum."

The rainbow eucalyptus is one of the few types of eucalyptus trees to grow naturally outside of Australia and the only one to grow naturally in the northern hemisphere.

The tree has fascinated people for hundreds of years. It was first recorded in the late 17th century by Georg Eberhard Rumpf. He was a self-taught German-born botanist working for the Dutch East India Company on the island of Ambon in what is now Indonesia. He very logically called the tree "Arbor versicolor."

Rainbow eucalyptus trees on Hawaii
Rainbow eucalyptus trees on HawaiiImage: Imago

The tree is originally a native of the rainforests of the Philippines. More specifically it has been traced to the forests on Mindano, which is the southern and easternmost island in the Philippine archipelago. Today the tree is often used as an ornamental addition to gardens and can be found in other humid climates such as Hawaii and southern Florida, Texas and California.

It is a fast growing tree that keeps its leaves the whole year. It usually grows tall and straight, with the first branches usually sprouting very high up the trunk. If left alone the tree normally grows to a height of around 60 meters (200 feet).

Though unlike other eucalyptus trees, the rainbow eucalyptus does not produce the aromatic oil that many expect from these trees. And quite unbelievably this fascinating tree is often used for paper pulp - its wood not deemed good enough for other uses.

But what makes this tree a stunner is its smooth, multi-colored bark. As the tree grows, its bark peels off in strips, creating irregular, ever-changing stripes of magnificent colors. The underlying inner bark is a neon green. Over time this green matures into the rainbow colors that give the tree its nickname: bright reds, stunning oranges, blues, pinks and purples. Finally the bark turns a brownish red which means it is ready to peel off again - starting the never-ending process all over again.

Do you have a picture of a beautiful landscape or something amazing in nature that you want to share with our readers? If so, you can send it to us using the upload tool on our website, or by emailing us at ecoafrica@dw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.