Though they're native to tropical climates, you can see them for yourself at a few locations throughout the U.S.
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When I first saw images of rainbow eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus deglupta) while scrolling through social media one day, I figured they couldn't possibly be legit. The multicolored bark looks like something you might see in a Dr. Seuss book, as if the trees have been decorated with a giant paintbrush. But this eye-catching type of tree does actually exist. Rainbow eucalyptus trees are native to tropical regions of the world such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. And there are a few places in the southernmost parts of the U.S. where you can see them growing as well.

Rainbow eucalyptus tree
Credit: James Ronan, FOAP/Getty Images

Rainbow eucalyptus is an evergreen tree that has spear-shape, silvery-green leaves, and clusters of tiny white flowers. The most stunning feature is the trunk, which grows rainbow bark in shades of green, blue, orange, red, and purple. As it grows, the bark is constantly peeling off in strips to reveal new colors and patterns, evolving its beauty all the time.

Only certain parts of the United States are home to rainbow eucalyptus because these trees need a consistently warm climate with plenty of rain in order to grow. San Diego, California, is becoming a destination for the trees. You can see them at Balboa Park, along Sports Arena Boulevard, at the San Diego Zoo, and in parts of Mission Bay.

You'll find rainbow trees in certain parts of Hawaii, too. There's a popular grove of trees in Maui along the Hana Highway, and you can also spot them at Ke'anae Arboretum. On Kauai, you can stroll along the Princeville walking path to see groups of rainbow eucalyptus, and they're at the Wahiawa Botanical Garden and Honolulu Zoo on Oahu.

In Florida, you can snap a selfie with a rainbow eucalyptus tree at the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, the Naples Botanical Garden, and at Mounts Botanical Garden in Palm Beach County.

rainbow eucalyptus tree growing in Indonesia
Credit: Katlyn Moncada

Depending on where you live, it may also be possible to grow your own rainbow eucalyptus tree ($90, Fast Growing Trees). They're hardy in Zones 9-11, which includes parts of southern California, Texas, Florida, and Hawaii. Rainbow trees grow best in full sun with consistently moist soil (they can tolerate short periods of drought, but it's best to keep them well-watered). You can also grow the trees in containers in Zones 4-11 if you bring them indoors before the first frost.

In their native environment, rainbow eucalyptus trees can reach over 200 feet tall, though they'll stay around 100 feet in the U.S. (they won't grow quite as tall outside their native tropical forest habitat), and you can keep them even shorter by pruning regularly. These trees grow fast, and it's not uncommon for them to shoot up by five feet in a single season so that they can reach towering heights in almost no time. Just be sure to check restrictions for your local area before planting. Right now, the University of Florida's Assessment of Non-Native Plants advises against planting them because they have the potential to be invasive.

Although pictures of these trees are stunning, they don't quite capture the awe of seeing them in person. A real rainbow eucalyptus can stop you in your tracks, so if you find yourself in an area where the trees grow, be sure to check them out.

Comments (1)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
February 21, 2020
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