As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am sometimes able to tell what people are searching for when they find this blog. Recently a few people have been looking for information or opinions about eucalyptus trees in California, so I thought I’d provide a bit more about the issue, which I have previously touched on in the general context of saving native ecosystems and planting native plants. It’s not that I think one kind of plant is better than another as a general principle — eucalyptus trees are great in Australia and I can lick any man who says otherwise — but rather that invasive non-native plants drive out the native ones, messing up the ecosystem and costing biodiversity. Eucalyptus is a great example, as discussed in an article written by Ted Williams (no, not the .400 hitter) for Audubon a few years ago. There’s not much understory that can survive under eucalyptus trees, since their bark contains toxins — really cool from an evolutionary standpoint, but very bad from a biodiversity standpoint. Usually, all you find under California eucalyptus trees is Algerian Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry. In Australia lots of birds and animals (like koala) have evolved to cope with, or thrive on, eucalyptus, but we ain’t got no koala around here. Birds can nest in eucalyptus, and there are even a very few around here that can feed on them, but on the whole these trees are a disaster in California. Get rid of the eucalyptus, plant live oaks or bay trees instead, and have an understory of sticky monkeyflower or coffeeberry or toyons or any of dozens of other species that can’t survive under a eucalyptus. You’ll see a much more interesting world.