Rainbow eucalyptus trees in Maui, Hawaii
© GlowingEarth/Getty Images Plu
Hold the tinsel!. Rainbow eucalyptus trees by the Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii
This rainbow eucalyptus tree doesn’t need Christmas decorations to appear festive, as its bark is naturally colourful. As older layers peel away in strips, new layers packed with green chlorophyll are revealed - eventually turning blue, purple and orange as tannins accumulate. As each strip is at a different stage in the process, it produces a brilliant kaleidoscope effect. Peeling allows the tree to shed mosses, lichen, fungi or parasites along with the bark, while also exposing the chlorophyll underneath, which boosts the tree's ability to feed itself via photosynthesis.
The bark isn't the only unusual thing about this species. While most people associate eucalyptus with koalas and Australia, the rainbow eucalyptus is native to the Philippines and Indonesia. It thrives in tropical climates like Hawaii, where our homepage trees were photographed.