The Q&A Archives: Using Eucalyptus Leaves in Compost

Question: I have started a compost pile with an abundance of nitrogen materials. (grass clippings, vegetable scraps, etc.) I'm having a hard time finding carbon materials. I have four eucalyptus trees that shed a large amount of leaves throughout the year. One book said not to use eucalyptus leaves in a compost pile. I also read that you can use these leaves. Which is the right answer? Any advice would be appreciated. Gary Nishimura Chino Hills, CA

Answer: The leaves of eucalyptus trees contains volatile oils. Though I have not heard specifically that they should not be used in compost piles, it may be that these oils cause the leaves to break down very slowly. It is possible, too, that these oils can have a harmful effect on other plants (if the oils survive the composting process intact). To be on the safe side, I would avoid using them in your pile. Other sources of carbon include straw, sawdust or wood shavings. Is there a farm nearby that would give you their spoiled hay? Or a lumberyard or carpentry shop with excess wood shavings?

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