Another acacia – the Blackwood

The weather stayed fine for an extra day.  After this it’s back to cold and wet and I am scheduled for a needle to relieve (I hope) a part-frozen shoulder.  This will stop riding for a couple of days.  So, on a sunny but cold yesterday, I went for a ride to Bracknell.  In the recreational area by the Liffey Rive I found this group of trees.

The Blackwood is the arrowed tree.  Acacia Melanoxylon.  It is a prized wood working tree much used for quality furniture.  When working with blackwood you must wear a good mask as the wood dust/shavings from tools does the lungs no good at all.  Indigenous to Tasmania and Victoria it grows 10-15 metres and older trees have a dark brown hardy wood.

These days they are being cut younger and, while the wood is strong, the colouring isn’t there.  The cabinet maker in Hobart from whom we bought our blackwood pieces, explained the wood now has to be stained to get the proper, deep colour.  Cheating?  Not him – he told us.  Others pretend the wood is as it comes.

This gives some idea of the colour aimed at.

Behind the Blackwoods is a stand of Blue Gums.  Eucalyptus Globulus.  Native to Tasmania and the southern mainland states of Australia, it was introduced into California in part to provide timber for railway “ties”.  There it is now an invasive species.  It grows well here too!  Up to 70 metres high and 2 metres diameter.  Actually this is small compared to the trees the early settlers found in southern Tasmania!

I will get a better picture of an entire tree before the month is out but, for now, look at the bark!  It comes off the trunk in long sheets and falls to the base of the tree.  The bark can be shredded for mulch but only if you have a hefty 5hp and above petrol motored shredder.  We bought a pissy little electric one which just jammed up when given a bit of bark to chew.  Bark shedding along with a habit of spitting out branches makes them messy in a garden setting and very hot in a bushfire.  They are in the group known in previous times as “Widow Makers” due to their habit of dropping branches onto passing wood cutters.

The white flowers are plentiful and are a key food for the Swift Parrots during their breeding season.  The Parrots come over to Tasmania in the summer just for this purpose.  Noisy and, well, swift, we experienced a summer with hundreds of them in the blue gums surrounding our house when we lived in the bush south of Hobart.  The little birds get up just before dawn (4.30am) and fly about all the while making one hell of a din.  We really enjoyed sharing the trees with them.  Truely.

Eucalyptus Globulus was proclaimed as Tasmania’s floral emblem in 1962.


More next week.

A bloke cycling in (mainly) Tasmania

4 response to "Another acacia – the Blackwood"

  1. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: August 8, 2019

    The Blackwood would make some beautiful furniture — the Blue Gum is interesting as well.
    Are there Huon Pine in your area? Radio Australia once had a segment about their great value in boat building. Along the Franklin river for one place, and valued for its resistance to rotting.
    All the Best with your shoulder — riding partner had what must be a similar shot in his back and has done a great deal of good.

    • By: Tony Cullimore Posted: August 10, 2019

      Shoulder shot – all good so far.

      Huon Pine. This grows further south-west from us. A heap of mature trees were covered by the lakes formed for the hydro schemes and have been under water for quite a time now. They are being extracted and found to be perfect for furniture making and boat building still. Not sure of their ages but some found have been 3,000 years old. The wood has an in-built preservative, methyl eugenol. This and it’s light weight make it a good timber for boat building. Many wooden yachts built in Tasmania have a blue gum keel and huon pine cladding.

  2. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: August 9, 2019

    The blue gums make very good wood flooring, I think they call it Tasmanian Oak. Those swift parrots are pretty amazing flying over Bass Strait.

    • By: Tony Cullimore Posted: August 10, 2019

      Blue Gum is used for flooring and sometimes seen called the generic name Tasmanian Oak in some places.

      It should not be though as the term Tasmanian Oak actually covers 3 other species – Eucalyptus regnant (Swamp Gum), Eucalyptus oblique (Stringy Bark) or Eucalyptus delegatensis (Gum-topped Stringy Bark).

      Blue Gum is also used for making wood chips, paper pulp and paper fibre. Nicer to think of to being used for yacht keels!

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