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Caribbean pine properties

Scientific name

Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis, P. caribaea var. hondurensis, P. caribaea var. caribaea. Family name: Pinaceae

Local names

Yellow pine, caribaea pine.

Description and natural occurrence

A medium sized softwood attaining a height of 30 m with grey to brown, thick, rough, scaly bark. Caribbean pine is a native of Central America, Cuba and the Bahamas.

It has been extensively planted in Central and North Queensland, and also in northern New South Wales. It comprises over 50,000 hectares in DPI Forest Service plantations, making it the second most planted timber species in the state, behind slash pine P. elliottii var. elliottii. Sawn timber of this species is readily available.

Wood appearance

Grain. Grain usually straight with a coarse, uneven texture. A pronounced difference in colour between earlywood and latewood results in a very distinctive figure when back sawn.

Wood properties

Density. 545-575 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.0 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups.(S6) unseasoned; (SD6) seasoned.

Stress grades. F4, F5, F7, F8 (unseasoned), F5, F7, F8, F11, F14 (seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2858-2001, Timber - softwood - visually graded for structural purposes.

Joint groups. J4 unseasoned; JD4 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. Approximately 2.0% (tangential); 4.0% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. Not available

Durability above-ground. P. caribaea var. caribaea class 4, Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis, P. caribaea var. hondurensis class 4 - life expectancy less than 7 years.

Durability below-ground. Class 4 - life expectancy less than 5 years.

Lyctine susceptibility. Sapwood is not susceptible to lyctine borer attack.

Termite resistance. Resistant.

Preservation. Immature plantation grown stems are almost entirely sapwood, which typically comprises more than 50% of the stem radius even in mature plantations. Sapwood readily accepts commercial preservative impregnation but the heartwood cannot be adequately treated using currently available commercial processes.

Seasoning. To avoid distortion, framing sizes should be high temperature dried. Boards may be air-dried or kiln dried at conventional or high temperatures. Precautions against bluestain are necessary.

Hardness. Soft to firm (rated 5 to 4 on a 6 class scale) in relation to indentation and ease of working with hand tools.

Machining. Sharp planer blades are needed when dressing to avoid compression of the softer earlywood and resultant ridged surfaces. Resin can be a nuisance during sawing.

Fixing. Nails may occasionally follow the growth rings due to deflection by latewood bands. Nailing guns give good results.

Gluing. Glues satisfactorily. Differential glue absorption can occur between earlywood and latewood but this rarely causes problems.

Finishing. Will readily accept paint, stain and polish, although care is required to avoid timber with high resin content.


Engineering. Preservative-impregnated poles frame construction, power poles, piles.

Construction. Framing, flooring, lining, joinery, moulding, laminated beams. Preservative impregnated for external cladding, decking, fascia and bargeboards, fencing, pergolas, playground equipment, landscaping and retaining walls.

Decorative. Furniture, plywood, turnery, joinery.

Others. Scaffold planks, wood wool, paper products.

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Pale yellow.

Heartwood. Yellow to reddish-brown and resinous.

Texture. Non-uniform, consisting of alternating bands of earlywood and latewood. Straight grain. Knots usually present in constructional timber grades.

Wood structure

Growth rings. Present and conspicuous, with latewood forming a dense dark band. False rings occasionally present. Transition from early wood to latewood fairly abrupt.

Vessels. Absent.

Resin canals. Numerous. Prominent as lines on dressed longitudinal surfaces.

Parenchyma. Absent.

Rays. Fine, visible under a lens.

Other features

Odour. Wood generally has a resinous odour.

Further reading

Hopewell, G (ed.) 2006, 'Construction timbers in Queensland: properties and specifications for satisfactory performance of construction timbers in Queensland, Class 1 and Class 10 buildings', books 1 and 2, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.

Ilic, J 1991, 'CSIRO atlas of hardwoods', Crawford House Press, Bathurst, Australia.

Standards Australia, 2000, 'AS 2082-2000: Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes', Standards Australia.