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Scientific name

Terminalia sericocarpa. Family: Combretaceae

Local names

Sovereignwood, bandicoot, damson plum

Description and natural occurrence

A semi-deciduous tree attaining a height to 30 m with a spread of 5 m and a stem diameter to 1 m. The stem is typically buttressed, well formed and branching with a black or grey, tessellated, fissured bark and a symmetrical crown.

Damson has a wide distribution across tropical Australia. It occurs from Rockhampton to Cape York, around the Gulf of Carpentaria, across to the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Wood appearance

Colour. Heartwood pale gold to yellowish brown; sapwood yellow but not always distinct.

Grain. Sometimes interlocked.

Wood properties

Density. 640 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.6 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups. (S5) unseasoned; (SD6) seasoned.

Stress grades. F5, F7, F8, F11 (unseasoned), F7, F8, F11, F14 (seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2082:2000, Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes.

Joint groups. J3 unseasoned; JD3 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. Approximately 6.0% (tangential); 3 to 4% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. Not available.

Durability above-ground Class 4 - life expectancy less than 7 years.

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

Lyctine susceptibility. Untreated sapwood susceptible to lyctid borer attack.

Termite resistance. Not resistant.

Preservation. Sapwood accepts preservative impregnation.

Seasoning. Seasons well.

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

Machining. Relatively easy to work.

Fixing. No difficulties have been experienced with the use of standard fittings and fastenings.

Gluing. Can be satisfactorily bonded using standard procedures.

Finishing. Will readily accept paint, stain and polish.


Construction. House framing, flooring, linings, mouldings, scantling.

Decorative. Interior joinery, cabinet making.

Others. Serviette rings, paper weights, rulers, walking sticks.

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Not readily differentiated from heartwood.

Heartwood. Pale gold to yellow-brown.

Texture. Coarse and uniform, grain very interlocked.

Wood structure

Vessels. Large, clearly visible to the naked eye, solitary and radial groups of 2-3, numerous and uniform distribution. Deposits lacking. Vessel lines prominent.

Parenchyma. Vasicentric, aliform and confluent.

Rays. Fine.

Other features

Burning splinter test. The wood burns with much smoke and exudation of resin, to a grey-white ash with black streaks.

Further reading

Boland, DJ, Brooker, MIH, Chippendale, GM, Hall, N, Hyland, BPM, Johnston, RD, Kleinig, DA and Turner, JD 2006, 'Forest trees of Australia', 5th edn, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Australia.

Bootle, K 2005, 'Wood in Australia: types, properties and uses', 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill, Sydney.

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.