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Tells the story of how the eucalyptus, or gum tree, spread from its native ranges in Australia to diverse habitats through the world. It discusses various reasons for the tree's popularity through history, ranging from the merely aesthetic to its purported malaria-countering character in swamps and bogs, to its ability to adapt and mature quickly as a source of timber and firewood. Doughty also raises important environmental, socioeconomic and political issues surrounding the eucalypt.