Branch out Mention eucalyptus and many people will immediately think of koalas, because the marsupials live in eucalyptus forests and eat the leaves of certain varieties. Part of the myrtle family, eucalyptus trees have fragrant leaves that are used in skincare products, perfumes, shampoos and soaps, and yield essential oil that is said to have pain-relieving, invigorating and antibacterial properties and alleviate respiratory problems.
Its fresh, minty flavour will be familiar to almost anyone who's sucked a lozenge to relieve a sore throat. The leaves can be added to a wood fire to flavour grilled seafood and meat, or infused in sugar syrup (made from equal parts sugar and boiling water) to sweeten iced tea and fruit sorbets or poach dried fruit.
Eucalyptus has a strong flavour so the leaves should be used sparingly. And be sure to use an edible variety, which hasn't been sprayed with pesticides.