7 Different Things Gum Trees Are Used For

Treetop of young american sweetgum tree.

You’ve heard of chewing gum, but did you know that it once came from a tree? Not only that, but gum trees are quite a wide variety that contribute to many household products.

In truth, one of the most common products that come from gum trees is scent-based. Eucalyptus, a type of gum tree, is used to create air fresheners, essential oils, hygiene products, and more. Additionally, eucalyptus trees have many commercial for their wood and are used to create paper.

Below, you will learn about more of the incredible products that have a base in gum tree material, as well as how and why these products are used. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get to it!

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What Is A Gum Tree?

A gum tree is a name that refers to many types of trees in the myrtle family, from eucalyptus (the most well-known) to angophora and corymbia.

The American Sweetgum, to provide one example of the many versions of gum trees, was first mentioned in the diary of a Spanish conquistador, according to Yale University’s Yale Nature Walk

Additionally, the American Sweetgum’s scientific name is Liquidambar styraciflua which means “liquid amber.”

Almost all gum trees are native to Australia unless otherwise noted. In some locations around the world, these trees are considered an invasive species. 

Gum trees produce oils and sap that are very commonly used, along with the wood itself. 

Many times upon looking up gum trees, people come to the conclusion that this name is synonymous with the popular eucalyptus tree. As that is known to be an Australian species and favored by koala bears, this is not completely off-base. 

However, is a gum tree really the exact same thing as a eucalyptus tree?

Let’s talk about it.

Is A Gum Tree The Same As A Eucalyptus Tree?

American sweetgum tree.
American sweetgum tree.

A eucalyptus tree is a type of gum tree, but not all gum trees are eucalyptus. 

If that’s confusing, just think of the way that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles can be squares because there are more specific criteria that must be met in that case.

Essentially, ‘gum tree’ is the common name for a whole group of trees. The eucalyptus tree just so happens to be one of the species that fall into that category.

When we talk about the uses of a gum tree, many byproducts end up referring specifically to a eucalyptus tree and its relatives, thanks to the oils and sap produced by varieties like those.

What Is A Gum Tree Used For?

Gum trees are used to create a wide range of products, not limited to just that which stems from their sap.

While hardwood and other wood-based products come from a gum tree, the most common uses of this tree do happen to fall into the category of things that can be tasted or smelled. 

Here are what gum trees are mainly used for:

  • Chewing Gum. This popular sweet treat is among the least surprising byproducts of gum trees, since…well, the name includes the word gum. Created using the sap of a gum tree. Gum trees are actually not commonly used in commercial gum!
  • Air Fresheners. Another household product for many, air fresheners that smell like eucalyptus, typically include oils that come from the tree itself and add a relaxing, natural scent to an indoor space. Not only does this add some relaxation to a place, but it also smells great and can help increase the mental clarity of those near it.
  • Essential Oils. As with most other natural products, essential oils can be produced by gum trees. Uses range from relaxation to mental clarity, energy, and more. These oils have a plethora of benefits that can be felt by those who use them.
  • Medicinal Teas. While eucalyptus essential oils should not be ingested, the medicinal herbal teas that come from these trees are safe to drink. Benefits range from cold and flu remedies to aiding those with asthma to contain its effects.
  • Dental Products. Myriad dental products include eucalyptus in some way, shape, or form. Not only does this add to the flavor and scent of the products, but adds natural bacteria-fighting properties that help prevent gum disease and bad breath.
  • Wood Products. Like other trees, gum trees are also often harvested for the wood that they yield among all of the other parts of the tree that create more unique products.
  • Paper Products. Due to it’s fiber and durability, eucalyptus gum trees are quite commonly used for paper production!

Gum Trees Can Be Used For Chewing Gum

American sweetgum tree.
American sweet gum tree.

Chewing gum is perhaps the least surprising product to come from gum trees, thanks to the name and association.

While many companies now opt for synthetic material in place of turning gum tree sap into this popular product, the origin of chewing gum is not forgotten.

In fact, The University of Houston details the history of chewing gum by noting that our modern-day chewing gum originated in Mexico as ‘tstile,’ now known as chicle.

Chicle is the word for natural gum from trees that our chewing gum is made out of. It is also one of the words used in Spanish when talking about gum- chewing or otherwise. 

Air Fresheners Are Made From Gum Trees

Eucalyptus tends to be a popular scent for people to have in their homes.

Products like this Scent Fill 100% Natural Eucalyptus Plug-In Air Freshener are great examples of gum trees turning into products that we either 1. Use or are 2. Familiar with.

The great thing about products like this is that they can be completely natural. For example, the Scent Fill air freshener is made with eucalyptus essential oil, among other naturally-sourced ingredients. 

There’s nothing like a home that smells nice and being reassured that the products you use do not have unknown substances. 

Eucalyptus Essential Oils Are Made From Gum Trees

Row of eucalyptus trees.
Row of eucalyptus trees.

Essential oils have seemed to be all the rage in the last decade, but aromatherapy has been around for millennia.

Penn State University details how, in ancient times, aromatherapy had roots in spiritual practices, which morphed over time into the understanding of herbalism as more of a medicinal, health-centric concept.

Products like this Ethereal Nature 100% Pure Oil utilizes the properties of eucalyptus in a way that can be used as a skin or hair care product, as well as something that can be safely diffused into the air. Don’t ingest eucalyptus oil.

Additional uses for this product range from massage oil to a supplement to baths. This oil is used to relieve tension and promote relaxation while simultaneously boosting energy and mental clarity. All around, this is a great way to practice simple aromatherapy at home. 

Another topical use has to do with blemishes on the skin. Eucalyptus oil can be mixed with water (about 3 or 4 times as much as the amount of oil you use) to place on any spots. 

Medicinal Teas From Gum Trees (Eucalyptus)

While eucalyptus essential oil should never be ingested, there are eucalyptus products that can be, when made by those who know how to properly and safely do so.

This Hanan Eucalyptus Tea, for example, is completely safe, healthy, and rather beneficial to drink. 

Not only is this herbal tea relaxing, but it can also help with respiratory comfort when it comes to helping contain the effects of asthma or other respiratory issues.

The same way that eucalyptus is used in medicinal teas, it can also be added to cough drops, decongestants, and other cold remedies. 

Tea like this helps to target bronchial symptoms of asthma or viral infections (such as colds and cases of flu.)

The benefits of using this kind of tea have been used in Peru for ages, as well as many other countries. 

Eucalyptus (Gum Tree) Dental Products

Eucalyptus tree leaves.
Eucalyptus tree leaves.

Toothpaste and mouthwashes, especially products focusing on natural bases, tend to include eucalyptus oil due to the natural bacteria-fighting properties of the oil.

Not only can eucalyptus oil help to create better-smelling breath in the short term, but it also works with you in a long-term capacity as it fights bacteria that cause bad breath in the first place.

Gum Trees (Eucalyptus) Are Made Into Wood Products

Gum trees, like many others, have wood that is used in cabinetry, furniture, doors, paneling, plywood, palettes, and more. 

The grain of this wood tends to be very consistent, so it is great for aesthetically-focused pieces where you want the grain to be real but also to look good! It’s functional too, though, in that it repels moisture well and is a very sturdy type of wood that can be trusted in projects.

Benefits Of Eucalyptus Wood

You can use any (or even all) of these wood products for renovating a space, redecorating, and more similar projects that require you to build something.

Some benefits of eucalyptus wood are that this type of wood tends to be resistant to rot and decay, and the wood is a beautiful color that darkens over time. So, you could say that this kind of wood ages very well!

Another benefit is that this is a very sustainable type of wood, especially when there are myriad other uses for every part of this tree, and not just the wood. 

When people think of cutting down trees, it is often the wood that gets the majority of users. In this case, it is actually the opposite.

All of the eucalyptus products (and those from other types of gum trees) that we hear about so often, including in this piece, ensure that these trees are completely appreciated and utilized.

Paper Is Made From Gum Trees (Eucalyptus)

A close up shot of eucalyptus bark.
A close up shot of eucalyptus tree bark.

Yup, it’s true! Eucalyptus, a species of gum tree, is one of the most commonly used trees for paper production. Simply put, the quality of the wood in combination with its hardness and fiber makes it ideal for paper production.

In general, eucalyptus gum trees are native to South America, Australia, and the Philippines.

Wrapping It Up!

Gum trees can clearly be used to produce a range of goods, from edible products to furniture, hygiene products, and so much more. 

This versatile range of trees may see most of their popular byproducts yielded by the eucalyptus tree, but species such as the America Sugargum should not be overlooked. Each tree has something different to offer!

When we talk about gum trees, now you’ll know about their many benefits and uses. A truly incredible tree that can be utilized in so many ways deserves to be well-known. 

We hope that this piece helped to pique your interest in learning more about these wonderful organisms. 

That’s all we have for now, but we’re hoping to share more about gum trees with you soon. 

As always, thanks for reading and continuing to grow on your own tree journey!

References

Coppen, J. J. (Ed.). (2002). Eucalyptus: the genus eucalyptus. CrC Press.

Doughty, R. W. (2000). The eucalyptus: a natural and commercial history of the gum tree. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Farhadi, D., Karimi, A., Sadeghi, G., Sheikhahmadi, A., Habibian, M., Raei, A., & Sobhani, K. (2017). Effects of using eucalyptus (Eucalyptusglobulus L.) leaf powder and its essential oil on growth performance and immune response of broiler chickens. Iranian journal of veterinary research18(1), 60–62.

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