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Best seat in the forest: fast-growing, tall eucalyptus trees are becoming popular transplants around the globe.

Family Name

Eucalyptus globulus and related species of the Family Myrtaceae

Common Names

Blue gum eucalyptus, bluegum, Chilean oak, Tasmanian blue gum


Average height is 150 to 180 feet with trunk diameters of 3 to 5 feet. Specific gravity for the wood is 0.80 for forest-grown material, 0.67 for plantation-grown material; average weight is 61 pounds per cubic foot for forest-grown and 51 pounds per cubic foot for plantation material


Slightly difficult to season, with some checking and tendency to warp and collapse.

Air dry first.

Kiln schedule T3-C2 recommended for 4/4 stock and T3-C1 for 8/4 stock.

Material saws well and generally works we[[.

Medium texture.

When it comes to eucalyptus trees, one naturally thinks of Australia, where the trees dominate the forests in sheer numbers and in size. There are more than 500 kinds of "eucalypts" in Australia. The fast-growing and impressive eucalyptus trees routinely grow to 180 feet, but can grow to 300 feet or more, making this species one of the tallest trees in the world.

The commercially prominent eucalypts include bluegum (Eucalyptus globulus), jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor), delgupta (Eucalyptus delgupta) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus grandis).

Trees from Eucalyptus globulus are commonly found in Tasmania, but also are cultivated in plantation settings in subtropical climates, including California and Hawaii in the United States, and in Spain, South America and East Africa. Material from Chile is sometimes called Chilean oak.

A Multitude of Uses

Bluegum's heartwood is a pale yellow-brown; the sapwood is gray-white and its grain is usually interlocked. Figures include plain eucalyptus and pommele. Uses for bluegum eucalyptus include pallets, fenceposts, general construction, veneer, veneer panels, flooring, railroad ties, toot handles, ship and vehicle construction, fuel, pulp and paper products. Bluegum is readily available in veneer and lumber. Eucalyptus oil, extracted from the leaves of the tree, is another reason the tree is so widely planted and is known for its many medicinal uses, including cough drops and antiseptics.

Easy on the Seasoning

Experts caution care in seasoning bluegum as it is "prone to checking with some tendency to warp and collapse," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Handbook, Tropical Timbers of the World. The book recommends a kiln schedule of T3-C2 for 4/4 stock "with a reconditioning treatment (steaming) at a moisture content of 20 percent to remove collapse."

Related Species

Eucalyptus grandis' range is on the east coast of Australia, but it has been successfully transplanted in South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico, India, Uruguay, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United States (south Florida, California and Hawaii). The tree, known as rose gum, flooded gum and eucalyptus, is one of the most valued of the commercial eucalypts and is used for wood pallets, veneer, poles, pulpwood and fuel. Eucalyptus grandis also has been used to make outdoor furniture and then finished with an bit to give the wood hydro-repellant properties, as well as fungus and insect protection. Timber from this species is said to be as durable as leak and, on average, 10 to 20 percent more dense. Its wood is described as honey colored with rose highlights.

Karri is native to southwestern Australia. It is one of the tallest of the eucalypts, capable of growing to 279 feet. Karri's heartwood is a reddish-brown color, often with interlocked grain. It has many of the same utilitarian uses as eucalyptus bluegum, but selected pieces of karri are used for cabinetry, furniture and residential flooring. They also are sliced for decorative veneer and architectural paneling. At 55 pounds per cubic foot, karri is stronger than jarrah, which averages 51 pounds per cubic foot. Careful seasoning is important for both karri and jarrah.

Jarrah is found on the coast of Perth in western Australia. Slightly shorter than other eucalyptus trees, jarrah is usually 100-feet tall, but it can grow to 150 feet. Jarrah is used in construction and marine work, including wharfs, bridges, sea barriers, docks and harbor work. In addition to flooring, it is used for shingles, rafters, chemical vats and filter presses. And, like karri, it also is used in furniture, paneling and decorative veneers. Jarrah is a great choice for turnery.

Jarrah's heartwood is a dark reddish brown, sometimes with gum veins or fleck marks caused by fungus. While karri is considered stronger than jarrah, it is not suitable for use in or touching water. It also is inferior to jarrah for underground use. The trees are similar in many respects, but the Encyclopedia of Wood has a surefire method of telling the trees apart. "Jarrah and karri can be distinguished by a 'splinter test'; a small burnt splinter of karri forms a thick white ash, while jarrah burns to a black, ashless coal."

It is understandable why fast-growing eucalyptus trees, with height and strength properties plus suitability for plantation growth, are growing in popularity outside of Australia.
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Title Annotation:WOOD OF THE MONTH: Eucalyptus
Comment:Best seat in the forest: fast-growing, tall eucalyptus trees are becoming popular transplants around the globe.(WOOD OF THE MONTH: Eucalyptus)
Author:Kaiser, Jo-Ann
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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