One of the most distinctive traits of Eucalyptus, to me, is its tendency to throw out puffy clouds of foliage, with space in between them.
I grew up in Oregon, and until I first traveled to California at age 16, and saw my first eucalypt, I don't think I'd ever seen a tree that does this. So it's one of those things that will always be strange, will always mean "away" as opposed to "home."
Here in Australia, of course, eucalypts are everywhere, so this growth habit is the norm. It's most noticeable when looking at a mass of trees against the sky; the highest leaf-clouds float a little above the dark mass of the forest, like thought bubbles in a cartoon.
That's what it is. These puffs of foliage look like thoughts.
Am I the only person who thinks of Doctor Seuss when considering a Eucalyptus? In fantasylands of his children's books, masses of foliage up in a tree could be platforms, as though the leaf-clouds were firm enough to walk on. I often wondered if the tiered habit of eucalyptus (widely planted in San Diego, where he lived) had been part of his inspiration.
I thought of this again in New Caledonia, where there is no eucalyptus, but many unrelated trees have a similar tiering habit. Here, it's mostly Gymnostoma, from Australia's casuarina family.
Viewed head-on, they're nothing much, but now and then, in the corner of my eye, the high, floating horizontal puffs feel like the land's thoughts. As though the land is imagining. Working a problem, perhaps, in its own time.