Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rosewoods and Rosewoods - by Trish Gardner

Bob Fuller remarked at the last meeting that the rosewood used in his school woodwork classes was not the same as the rosewood which grows in the Lockyer Valley. The rosewood after which the famous Rosewood Scrub is named is a wattle, Acacia fasciculifera. It is a wonderful timber, very beautiful, and (as you’d expect from a long-lived wattle species) very heavy. It is rarely used for furniture, but the pieces which exist are much-loved by their owners, and are often family heirlooms. They are almost impossible to pick up and carry, though. It’s also used for fenceposts which never wear out.

The Australian “rosewood” which is more likely to be used for furniture (and in woodwork classes) is Dysoxylum fraserianum. It grows in south-east Queensland and northern NSW rainforests. It is very common at Ravensbourne, and easy to grow in our local red soil.
Rosewood is a name that simply has popular appeal, so there are lots of trees with red timber that have been given the name. In Australia, it is also given to Acacia rhodoxylon, (another heavy timber like the Lockyer Rose-wood). We also have several “scentless rosewood” species (Synoum sp), and a “scrub rosewood” (Pseudoweinmannia). Even the introduced weed, Tipuana tipu, is sometimes called “rosewood”, though locally we know it as Racehorse Tree.
Internationally, the name is most often given to various species of Dalbergia, which go by the names of Brazilian rosewood, Honduras rosewood, Indian rosewood - or simply “rosewood”.

You may have parked your car under this rosewood tree (Dysoxylum fraserianum) at Beutel’s Lookout, Ravensbourne.

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