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White cypress

Scientific name

Callitris glaucophylla. Family Cupressaceae.

Local names

Cypress pine, western cypress, cypress.

Description and natural occurrence

This tree reaches a height of up to 25 m and a stem diameter of 0.3 to 0.6 m. Its bark is dark grey, hard and deeply furrowed. The foliage is grey-green and the trees are typically conical in shape.

White cypress has a widespread natural occurrence extending from central western Queensland to Victoria through most of the western New South Wales. Its major commercial forest occurrence is in the Tambo-Dalby-Inglewood region of southern Queensland and in the Baradine-Narrabri and Cobar districts of northern New South Wales.

Sawn timber is readily available.

Wood appearance

Colour. The heartwood varies from light to dark yellow brown and the sapwood is creamy white.

Grain. Very fine with an even texture and generally straight. Knots are common.

Wood properties

Density. 675 kgm3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.5 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups. S5 unseasoned; SD6 seasoned.

Stress grades. F4, F5, F7 (unseasoned), F4, F5, F7(seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2858-1986, Timber - softwood - visually graded for structural purposes.

Joint groups. J3 unseasoned; JD3 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. 2.6% (tangential); 2.4% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. 0.26% (tangential); 0.22% (radial).

Durability above-ground. Class 1 - life expectancy over 40 years. Heartwood highly resisitant to decay when fully exposed to the weather.

Durability in-ground. Class 2 - life expectancy 15 to 25 years. Heartwood moderately resistant to decay when used in the ground.

Lyctine susceptibility. Not susceptible.

Termite resistance. Resistant.

Preservation. Sapwood and heartwood are both very resistant to commercial preservative impregnation.

Seasoning. Dries quickly although restriction of the drying rate during the early stages is necessary to avoid fine surface checking. Rarely distorts during drying.

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

Machining. Can be satisfactorily machined and turned to smooth surfaces.

Fixing. Seasoned timber may require pre-drilling when hand nailing but machine nailing with shear point nails is satisfactory. Unseasoned timber generally nails well using either method but pre-drilling may be necessary when hand nailing close to ends of boards.

Gluing. Can be satisfactorily bonded using special techniques, e.g. slightly roughening surfaces and increasing open assemble times.

Finishing. Will readily accept paint, stain and polish.


Construction. Used as sawn timber (usually unseasoned) in general house framing, fascias, barge boards and fencing. Also used for cladding, flooring, linings and joinery.

Decorative. Internal quality furniture, outdoor furniture, turnery, joinery, carving, parquetry flooring.

Others. Beehives, oyster stakes, jetty piles (low salinity river or canal situations).

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Creamy white, distinct from heartwood.

Heartwood. Light to dark yellow brown.

Texture. Very uniform with some figure and numerous knots.

Wood structure

Growth rings. Indistinct.

Vessels. Absent.

Rays. Indistinct.

Other features

Burning splinter test. Burns well leaving a white ash.

Odour. Distinctive and characteristic.

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.