Information on Australian Timbers
Tasmanian Blackwood, Acacia melanoxylon, is a hardwood, stable, long lasting, with a variety of tonings - ranging from light golden brown to deep brown, sometimes with a reddish tint and occasionally showing black streaks. Further beauty occurs with the grain. Sometimes it is straight, but sometimes wavy, producing a fiddleback pattern.
The largest area in Australia of Acacia melanoxylon has occured natually in the so called Blackwood Swamps near Smithton in north western Tasmania. Here the Tasmanian Forestry Commission strictly control the harvest with a managed 70 year rotation program allowing regeneration of the pure stands of blackwood. This cyclic harvest combined with natural regeneration ensures this unique Tasmanian resource will always survive.
Blackwood is a member of the wattle family and thrives in swamps, rivine areas and wet eucalypt areas. It occurs from sea level to 1000m in elevation.
Although Acacia melanoxylon is commonly known as Tasmanian Blackwood the species is also known as Sally Wattle, Lghtwood, Hickory, Mudgerabah or Black Wattle. The species grows fast and tall, up to 45m. It has ecological tolerance, occurrring over an extensive range of soils and climatic conditions but develops better in colder climates.It lives for 15 - 50 years regularly producing large numbers of seeds.
Tasmanian Blackwood is easy to work, and with its lustrous grain and variance of colour is a preferred timber for designers, architects and furniture craftspeople.
Tasmanian Oak, Eucalyptus regnans, is the tallest of the eucalypts, growing 70-100m. They grow in deep soiled mountainous areas to 1000m. Tasmanian Oak grows very quickly, at more then 1m per year and can grow 65m in 50 years. Their average lifespan is 400 years and fallen logs continue supporting a rich variety of life for centuries more on the forest floor. Eucalptus regnans is the tallest of all flowering plants.
Eucalyptus regnans is also known as Mountain Ash, Victorian Ash, Swamp Gum, or Stringy Bark.
Unusually for a eucalyptus, Eucalyptus regnans tends not to recover by reshooting after fire, and regenerates only from seed. The seeds are released from their woody capsules (gumnuts) by heat and for successful germination the seedlings require a high level of light, much more then reaches the forest floor when there is a mature tree canopy. Severe fires can kill all the trees in a forest, prompting a massive release of seed to take advanatge of the nutrients in the ash bed. Because it takes roughly 20 years for seedlings to reach sexual maturity, repeated fires in the same area can cause local extinctions. If however, no fires regenerate an area, the tree dies off after about 400 years and are replaced by other species.
Contraversy surrounds the logging of old-growth Eucalyptus regnans in its natural range in Victoria and Tasmania. Eucalyptus regnans has value to conservationists in providing essential habitats to species of birds and mammals. A large amount of Eucalyptus regnans is used for wood chipping each year.
To protect very old and very tall stands of Eucalyptus regnans these areas have been listed as National Parks or World Heritage environments. In this way its status as a species is secure despite its rapid foresty use.
With its light colouring, solidity and fine grain Solid Tasmanian Oak is often used in the furniture and building industries.
River Red Gum
River Red Gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis is native to Australia where it is widespread, especially beside inland water courses. It was first named for a private estate garden near the Camaldoli monastry near Naples, L'Hortus Camaldulensis di Napoli, from where the first specimen came to be described. Material from this tree was used by Frederick Dehnhardt, Chief Gardener at the Botanic Gardens in Naples, to describe this species in 1832.
The tree is fast growing and usually grows 40 to 45m in height. River Red Gums grow straight under favourable conditions, but can develop twisted branches in drier conditions.
Like other tree species River Red Gums provide a natural choice habit. The trees provide a breeding habitat for fish during the flooding saeson, which also benefits aquatic bird life that depend on fish as a food source during their own breeding season.
Hollows start to form at around 120-180 years of age, creating habitat for many wildlifespecies, including a range of breeding and roosting animals such as bats, carpet pythons and birds. The dense foliage of the tree also provides shade and shelter from the sun in drier and hotter areas.
Red Gum is so named for its brilliant red wood, that can range from light pink through to almost black, depending on its age and weathering. It is somewhat brittle and is often cross-grained, making hand working difficult. More recently it has been recognised in craft furniture for its spectacular deep red colour and typical fiddleback figure.It is quite hard, dense, can take a fine polish and carves well.