Villa Thuret is one of the oldest standing Eucalyptus collections in Europe (besides of many other interesting plants!). Also, many years ago, the people who created the garden and studied the plants growing there and in other gardens of the same era contributed a lot to the study of the Australian trees.
In fact, it was Naudin first and Trabut later (thanks to the plantings of Ramel, Cordier, Trottier and others) who provided (along with some others, some in California, others in Australia) very firm evidence of the possibility for Eucalyptus to hybridise by growing, comparing and botanizing some of the "strange looking progenies" of E. camaldulensis (by then known as E. rostrata) and E. globulus. Hence, "E. naudiniana", "E. trabuti", "E. antipolitensis", "E. pseudoglobulus", etc.
By then, the works of Charles Darwin on evolution were still in discussion, and the works of Gregor Mendel on heredity had not yet been re-discovered. Hybridisation was not fully acknowledged for Eucalyptus by Baron von Mueller in the late 1800's, but it began to be accepted since J.H. Maiden compiled all the relevant information in the early 1900's, including the French results.
More or less at once, the Brazilian Giant (inspired by the Eucalyptus of Coimbra and the Eucalyptus of California) would find and grow E. paulistana, another hybrid. Less than half a century later, Eucalyptus would spread around the world at large scale as woody crops. Today, probably more than 1/3 of the more than 20 billion cultivated trees... are hybrid strains.
So, some of the trees Benoit kindly showed us at Villa Thuret are living pieces of Eucalyptus history. They helped understand how these trees behave, and how to take advantage of heterosis (hybrid vigour) for wood production.
As you see, it all happened in many countries at once. No doubt, Eucalyptus have always been international.
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