Pepperwood

Scientific name

Cinnamomum laubatii formerly C. tamala. Family: Lauraceae.

Local name

Brown beech.

Description and natural occurrence

A medium-sized hardwood, pepperwood grows to a height of 35 m with a spread of 6 m. The bole is straight and somewhat buttressed, with reddish-brown or light brown bark occasionally scaly on larger trees.

Pepperwood is a native of the tropical rainforests of North Queensland where it occurs from Mackay to Atherton.

Wood appearance

Colour. Heartwood is very pale pink, pink-brown or straw to golden brown. Sapwood is pale to light brown and not easily distinguishable from the heartwood.

Grain. Usually very straight grained.

Wood properties

Density. 480 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 2.1 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups. (S7) unseasoned; (SD8) seasoned.

Stress grades. F4, F5, F7, (unseasoned), F4, F5, F7, F8 (seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2082:2000, Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes.

Joint groups. SD4 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. 5.1% (tangential); 2.0% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. 0.28% (tangential). This value applies to timber reconditioned after seasoning.

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 with conventional air and kiln methods.

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

Machining. Easy to work due to its softness; excellent carving timber.

Fixing. Holds nails and screws well.

Gluing. Glues well.

Finishing. Paints, stains, and polishes well.

Uses

Construction. Plywood, internal covered flooring.

Decorative. Panelling, cupboard fittings and mouldings, carving, stained and polished furniture.

Others. Boat planking, light spars and oars, brush stocks, fishing reels, toys, crates and cases.

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Light brown.

Heartwood. Pink-brown to yellow-brown.

Texture. Medium and uniform, straight grain.

Wood structure

Vessels. Solitary, and short radial multiples up to 3 cells, uniform diffuse distribution, visible without a lens. Vessel lines prominent on dressed surfaces.

Parenchyma. Not visible at low magnification.

Rays. Fine, visible with 10X lens. Ray fleck prominent without magnification on radial surfaces.

Other features

Burning splinter test. A match size splinter burns to a filament of black ash.

Odour. Freshly cut wood has a slight spicy aroma.

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 05 August 2010