The RIC Good Wood Guide

Overseas-grown Australian Timber Species

(See also Native Seeds are Sprouting Far from Home, and , Plantation Timber - We Must Try Harder, below)

The following species are successfully cultivated overseas. Only a few of them are grown commercially in Australia, despite them being native to this country.

Alpine Ash

Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis), is a large hardwood, grown in plantations in New Zealand.


Blackbean (Castanospermum australe), is grown in plantations in the US. It is cultivated as an ornamental tree and for its edible nuts in Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia.

There are presently no plantations of Blackbean in Australia. This large hardwood grows naturally in rainforests from northern NSW to northern Queensland. There is not much left growing naturally in NSW, but it is a popularly planted species by regenerators and enthusiasts. In time, it may be incorporated in agroforestry projects. It is suitable for furniture, decorative veneer, carving, panelling and turnery.

Blackbutt (A)

Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis), also called Cuttail, is a large hardwood, grown in plantations in New Zealand.


Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), is grown in plantations in New Zealand.

Brown Barrel

Brown Barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata), is grown in plantations in New Zealand.


Brushbox (Tristania conferta), is grown in plantations in Hawaii.


Casuarina (mainly Casuarina equisetifolia), a native of northern Australia and parts of the Pacific and Southeast Asia, is being cultivated in plantations and for erosion control in Vietnam, India and China. Casuarina is value for its nitrogen-fixing qualities as well as for timber, fuel and charcoal. China has more than 1,000,000 hectares; India 800,000 hectares, and Vietnam 100,000 hectares, mainly in coastal areas where land degradation is worst.

Cypress Pine

Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris) or White Cypress, has been successfully cultivated in plantations in South Africa for the past 80 years or so. (See also Please Avoid these Australian Species)


Apart from Australia, Eucalypts are known to be cultivated in New Zealand, South Africa, China, India, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Fiji, Egypt, USA, Ecuador, Hawaii and Argentina. There are probably other countries where they are cultivated in other parts of Asia, for example.

Flooded Gum (A)

Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus grandis), is a large, fast-growing hardwood, grown in plantations in Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia.

Hoop Pine (A)

Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), is grown in plantations in South Africa and Indonesia.

Karri (A)

Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) is being marketed worldwide by South African plantation growers. (More and more African timber forests are being certified - which makes a strong case for importing eucalypt species, etc, until our own hardwood timber forests are 'up to speed'). Karri is a native of Western Australia; it is one of Australia's tallest hardwood trees. Take care if you are buying Australian-grown Karri, it will almost certainly be old growth timber. Plantation supplies of Karri are meagre to date, due to most of the plantation resource still being too immature to cut for timber.

Lemon Scented Gum

Lemon Scented Gum (Eucalyptus citriodora), also known as Spotted Gum in Qld, is a large, durable hardwood, grown in plantations in Fiji, South Africa and India.


Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua), or Messmate Stringybark, is grown in plantations in New Zealand.

Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), is grown in plantations in New Zealand. The world's tallest eucalypt species.


(Eucalyptus Occidentalis) Grown extensively in Israel, including in mixed species plantations along the edges of the Negev Desert. Native to the southern part of Western Australia.

Red Cedar

Red Cedar (Toona australis) or Australian Cedar, is grown in plantations in Hawaii (where, after 40 years it has diameters of 0.5 to 0.8 metres. See also A Tree is not a Tree in this section). Red Cedar is also grown in Tonga , where it represents the major industry on Eua Island. It grows naturally in the coastal rainforests of eastern Australia, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia and even India. It is now quite rare in Australia, so most timber purchased is imported. The heartwood is durable, but is too scarce to be squandered in external applications. Good for furniture, panelling, decorative veneer, boatbuilding, carving. (Should not be confused with Western Red Cedar from the USA.)

River Red Gum (A)

River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), is a durable, medium to large hardwood, grown in plantations in Egypt, South Africa, Spain, Israel, and Portugal. In Australia, it is found along many of our inland rivers. Its durability and workability makes it extremely versatile, although it is often only used as a pulp source. In Egypt, where it is converted to particleboard, it is useful for its bank stabilisation/erosion-control properties, as well as its ability to survive while inundated by flood waters. Since the 1880s, red gums have helped to eradicate malarial swamps in Israel, reforest barren areas denuded by the firewood-hungry Ottoman Empire, and supply timber, shade and protection from marauding Arab armies. Also suitable for turnery, flooring, furniture, panelling, etc.

River Sheoak

River Sheoak (Casuarina cunninghamiana) is a durable, turnable, medium to large hardwood, grown in plantations in Egypt (as for River Red Gum - see above).


Satinay (Syncarpia hillii) or Fraser Island Turpentine, is grown in plantations in the USA. None is grown commercially in Australia. Grows naturally on Fraser Island, near the southern Queensland coast. Heartwood is durable. Good for flooring, panelling, decorative veneer, tool handles, mallet heads, heavy furniture.

Shining Gum

Shining Gum (Eucalyptus nitens), is a large hardwood, grown in plantations in New Zealand.

Silvertop Ash

Silvertop Ash (Eucalyptus sieberi), is a large hardwood, grown in plantations in New Zealand.

Southern Mahogany

Southern Mahogany (Eucalyptus botrioides), is a large hardwood, grown in plantations in New Zealand.

Southern Blue Gum (A)

Southern Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus), also known as Tasmanian Blue Gum or Eurabbie, is grown in plantations in California, Spain and Portugal and Ecuador. Native to south-east Australia (Tasmania and Victoria). Heartwood is moderately durable.

Southern Silky Oak (A)

Southern Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) is grown in plantations in South Africa.

Sydney Blue Gum (A)

Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna), is a large hardwood, grown in (mature, 60 year-old) plantations in South Africa, Hawaii and New Zealand (NZ also grows the cultivar 'Bartletts Saligna' which has a distinctive, figured grain). Also grown in Australia.


Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera), is grown in plantations in Hawaii and South Africa.

White Ash

White Ash (Eucalyptus fraxinoides), is a large hardwood, grown in plantations in New Zealand.

White Cedar

White Cedar (Melia azedarach) is being trialled in Egypt in small plantations, along roads and canals, and adjacent to sewage treatment works.

Yellow Stringybark

Yellow Stringybark (Eucalyptus muellerana), is grown in plantations in New Zealand.

(A) - Also plantation-grown in Australia (see Australian Grown Plantation Species in this section).

Native Seeds are Sprouting Far from Home

Australian native tree species have this year passed the halfway mark in dominating all new forestry plantings in the world's tropics, in numbers far greater than are planted in Australia.

Huge plantations of wattles, gums and casuarinas are being established on degraded land in Southeast Asia, some with species not grown commercially in their native land, according to the CSIRO's Australian Tree Seed Centre.

In Indonesia and Malaysia, multinational pulp and paper companies are planting tens of thousand of hectares of mangium wattles a year, and building associated mills.

They aim to plant millions of hectares of the species, which is grown in Australia only in experimental plots in Queensland, the Centre's officer in charge, Mr Tim Vercoe, said last week.

"There is some interest in Australia now, but on nothing like the scale happeninng elsewhere," Mr Vercoe said.

Thailand and Vietnam are also establishing big new forestry projects with Australian trees.

The new plantings come on top of continuing large investments in forestry with Australian natives in nations such as Brazil, with 6 millions hectares already planted, and India, with 4 million hectares.

Australia has only about 140,000 hectares of native hardwoods mainly eucalypts in plantations, and another 1 million hectares of softwoods, mainly exotic radiata pine, according to the National Association of Forest Industries.

Overseas, however, Australia species now account for about 60 percent of all new plantings and about 40 percent of established plantaions in the tropics.

Australia's export trade in eucalypt and wattle seed is already worth about $9 million a year and is increasing.

- Bob Beale, Science & Environment writer , SMH - Nov '96

Plantation Timber - We Must Try Harder

Are overseas countries growing more of our trees than we are?

Australia may be the home of the gum tree, but the world has stolen the lead in growing them for money, a CSIRO scientist has warned.

Dr. Ken Eldridge, of the the CSIRO's division of Forestry, said that there were as many as 5 million hectares of eucalypt plantations in Brazil, South Africa, Spain and Portugal. Australia has only 125,000 hectares of plantations. In 1992-93, Australia imported 2.4 billion dollars worth of timber products, "most of which we could grow here if we invested a great deal more in plantations".

South Africa has found that the fastest-growing trees and the most profitable for plantations are eucalypts", Dr. Eldridge said. It used the timber as props in its goldmines and sold it as sawn timber. "Brazil grows the flooded gums from northern NSW for pulp and paper, and for charcoal, to burn instead of coal in its steel industry." Spain and Portugal grow Tasmanian blue gums and river red gums to produce quality pulp and paper.

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