These May Be the Prettiest Trees Ever

Rainbow eucalyptus trees – and their candy-colored bark – toss arboreal convention to the wind.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees (Eucalyptus deglupta), Maui, Hawaii, USA
Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees (Eucalyptus deglupta), Maui, Hawaii, USA. Danita Delimont / Getty Images

It's as if Mother Nature conspired with Vincent Van Gogh, maybe with some input from Dr. Seuss, when coming up with Eucalyptus deglupta, commonly known as the rainbow eucalyptus tree.

Of the more than 700 species of eucalyptus, most are native to Australia; a few are found in nearby areas like New Guinea and Indonesia, but the rainbow eucalyptus is special – it’s the only one native to the Northern Hemisphere. Hailing from the Philippine Island of Mindanao, it is now a pantropic species growing everywhere from Brazil and Congo to China and Hawaii. Around the world most E. deglupta are grown for pulp production to make paper.

Actias selene, Moon Moth, on Rainbow Eucalyptus
Actias selene, Moon Moth, on Rainbow Eucalyptus. Darrell Gulin / Getty Images

Unlike trees with thick corky bark, E. deglupta has smooth bark that sheds as the tree grows. When one layer begins to peel away, fresh bright green bark is revealed. As the bark ages, it transforms to darker shades of green before heading to blues, purples, pinks, and oranges as it starts to separate from the trunk, to a grand finale of deep maroon. Happening in different zones at different times, the result is a riot of striated color in patterns that never repeat; each moment as unique as a snowflake.

Rainbow Eucalyptus tree
tylerpauljeffery / Getty Images