Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs (including a distinct group with a multiple-stem mallee growth habit) in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia, and include the tallest known flowering plant on Earth. There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus and most are native to Australia; a very small number are found in adjacent areas of New Guinea and Indonesia. One species, Eucalyptus deglupta, ranges as far north as the Philippines. Of the 15 species found outside Australia, just nine are exclusively non-Australian. Species of eucalyptus are cultivated widely in the tropical and temperate world, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, China, and the Indian subcontinent. However, the range over which many eucalypts can be planted in the temperate zone is constrained by their limited cold tolerance.
Eucalyptus is one of three similar genera that are commonly referred to as "eucalypts", the others being Corymbia and Angophora. Many species, though by no means all, are known as gum trees because they exude copious kino from any break in the bark (e.g., scribbly gum). The generic name is derived from the Greek words ευ (eu) "well" and καλύπτω (kalýpto) "to cover", referring to the operculum on the calyx that initially conceals the flower.
Some eucalyptus species have attracted attention from horticulturists, global development researchers, and environmentalists because of desirable traits such as being fast-growing sources of wood, producing oil that can be used for cleaning and as a natural insecticide, or an ability to be used to drain swamps and thereby reduce the risk of malaria. Eucalyptus oil finds many uses like in aromatherapy, as a cure for joint pains. Eucalyptus trees show allelopathic effects; they release compounds which inhibit other plant species from growing nearby.