Brush box

Scientific name

Lophostemon confertus. Family: Myrtaceae

Local names

Pink box, scrub box

Description and natural occurrence

A medium sized tree attaining a height of 35 to 40 m and a stem diameter of 1 to 2 m. The trunk is usually straight and of good form. The bark is about 10 mm thick, light grey to brown, rough and semi-fibrous on the lower trunk and smooth, coppery brown to pink on the upper trunk and main branches.

Occurs as mature, residual trees in rainforest and commonly extends to wet sclerophyll and moist open forests, from Newcastle, New South Wales to Maryborough in Queensland. Further north, isolated stands occur on Blackdown Tableland (Rockhampton), Mt Dryanden (Proserpine), Paluma Range (Townsville), Mission Beach (Tully), Mt Garnet, Herbert Range (Atherton) and Windsor Tableland (Mossman).

Wood appearance

Colour. The heartwood ranges from pink-brown to red-brown but is often very variable between trees. The sapwood is usually slightly paler in colour.

Grain. Close and even textured. Often with curly interlocking grain.

Wood properties

Density. 880 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.1 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups. S3 unseasoned; SD3 seasoned.

Stress grades. F8, F11, F14, F17 (unseasoned), F14, F17, F22, F27 (seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2082-2000, Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes.

Joint groups. J2 unseasoned; JD2 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. 9.7% (tangential); 4.4% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. 0.38% (tangential); 0.24% (radial). These values apply to timber reconditioned after seasoning.

Durability above-ground. Class 3 - life expectancy 7 to 15 years.

Durability in-ground. Class 3 - life expectancy 5 to 15 years.

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

Termite resistance. Resistant.

Preservation. Sapwood readily accepts preservative impregnation but penetration of heartwood is negligible using currently available commercial processes.

Seasoning. Care is needed in seasoning this species. To minimise distortion in drying, the boards should be closely stripped (maximum 300 mm centres).

Hardness. Hard (rated 2 on a 6 class scale) in relation to indentation and ease of working with hand tools.

Machining. Can be abrasive to machine cutters and tools due to the presence of silica in the wood.

Fixing. No difficulty has been experienced with the use of standard fittings and fastenings.

Gluing. As with most high-density species, machining and surface preparation should be done immediately before gluing.

Finishing. Will readily accept stain, polish and paint.

Uses

Engineering. Marine piles.

Construction. As seasoned sawn timber in general house framing, flooring, lining, cladding, laminated beams, joinery.

Decorative. Plywood, turnery, laminated bench tops (residential, industrial), joinery, parquetry.

Others. Has been used for mallet heads, croquet mallets, textile industry (bobbins and shuttles), butcher´s blocks, boat building (knees).

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Pale greyish-brown.

Heartwood. Pink-brown to red-brown, often variable.

Texture. Fine and uniform, grain often interlocked.

Wood structure

Growth rings. Absent.

Vessels. Small, visible with the aid of a lens, numerous, solitary and diffuse; tyloses common.

Parenchyma. Not visible under a lens.

Other features

Burning splinter test. Produces a full ash, white to brown.

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.

Last updated 04 August 2010