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Radiata pine

Scientific name

Pinus radiata: Family: Pinaceae.

Local name

Monterey pine.

Description and natural occurrence

A medium sized tree attaining a height of 40 to 50 m and a stem diameter of 1 m. Branches are usually large and spreading and pinecones are very conspicuous on the tree. Bark is grey to red-brown in colour, thick, rough, deeply fissured and shed in small flakes.

Radiata pine is native to a very small area of the west coast of North America but is now a major plantation species throughout the world, especially in New Zealand, Chile, South Africa and Australia. In Australia it is grown in all states and the ACT although commercial plantings in Queensland are confined to the southern highlands.

Sawn timber of this species is readily available.

Wood appearance

Colour. Heartwood is reddish-brown varying to shades of yellow. Sapwood is usually pale yellow to white.

Grain. Generally straight. An often pronounced difference in colour between earlywood and latewood results in a very distinctive figure when backsawn.

Wood properties

Density. Australia: 545 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.8 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne. New Zealand: 490 kg/m3; approximately 2 m3/t.

Strength groups. Australia: S6 unseasoned; SD6 seasoned. New Zealand: S7 unseasoned; SD6 seasoned.

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

Joint groups. Australia: J4 unseasoned; JD4 seasoned. New Zealand JD4 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. 5.1% (tangential); 3.4% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. 0.27% (tangential); 0.20% (radial). These values apply to timber reconditioned after seasoning.

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

Termite resistance. Not resistant.

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

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

Preservation. Plantation grown trees have a high proportion of sapwood, which readily accepts commercial preservative impregnation. The heartwood of radiata pine also accepts some preservative impregnation but for practical purposes it is considered untreatable as results are unreliable.

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

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

Machining. Machines and turns well but planer blades should be kept sharp to avoid surface ridging.

Fixing. Nails may occasionally follow the growth rings. Nailing guns give good results.

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

Finishing. Will readily accept paint, stain and polish.


Engineering. Preservative impregnated poles for pole frame construction, transmission poles and land poles.

Construction. General purpose softwood used as dressed, seasoned timber in general house framing, flooring, lining, joinery, mouldings and laminated beams. Preservative impregnated in sawn or round form in fencing, pergolas, landscaping, retaining walls, playground equipment. Also used in the manufacture of Scrimber.

Decorative. Furniture, outdoor furnishings (preservative impregnated), plywood, joinery, turnery, carving.

Others. Structural plywood, scaffold planks, wood wool, paper products, particleboard, and medium density fibreboard.

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Pale yellow.

Heartwood. Reddish-brown, varying to shades of yellow.

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

Wood structure

Growth rings. Prominent and clearly visible, latewood forming a dense dark band. False rings rare. Transition from earlywood to latewood abrupt.

Vessels. Absent.

Resin canals. Numerous, prominent as lines on dressed longitudinal surfaces.

Parenchyma. Absent.

Rays. Fine, visible with 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.