Rose mahogany

Scientific name

Dysoxylum fraseranum. Family: Meliaceae.

Local name

Rosewood.

Description and natural occurrence

A medium-sized tree attaining a height of 40 m and over 1 m in stem diameter. The stem is often flanged at the base but not prominently buttressed. Bark is light brown in colour, scaly, and shed in oblong flakes. The crown is usually dense and rounded with dark green, shiny foliage.

Found scattered along the east coast from Wyong, New South Wales, to southern Queensland. In Queensland, mainly in the ranges around Killarney, Tamborine Mountain and the Mistake Ranges.

Sawn timber of this species is not readily available.

Wood appearance

Colour. The truewood ranges from red-brown to dark red. Sapwood ranges from light brown to cream.

Grain. Moderately close, often interlocked; uniform in texture. The soft tissue (parenchyma) gives a slight figure to tangential surfaces.

Wood properties

Density. 705 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.4 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups. S5 unseasoned; SD5 seasoned.

Stress grades. F5, F7, F8, F11 (unseasoned), F8, F11, F14, F17 (seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2082-2000, Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded hardwoods for structural purposes.

Joint groups. J2 unseasoned; JD3 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. 4.3% (tangential); 2.5% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. 0.29% (tangential); 0.18% (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. Untreated sapwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack.

Termite resistance. Not resistant.

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

Seasoning. Can be satisfactorily dried using conventional air and kiln seasoning methods.

Hardness. Moderately hard (rated 3 on a 6 class scale) in relation to indentation and ease of working with hand tools.

Machining. Machines and turns well due to a natural oiliness of the wood.

Fixing. No difficulty has 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. However, occasional pieces develop beads of free aromatic oil that stain the wood and produce a dull blotchy bloom under the polished surface. To overcome this problem avoid using timber with freshly dressed surfaces or, if staining has occurred, sponge the surface with alcohol.

Uses

Construction. Has been used as sawn timber in general house framing, flooring, moulding and joinery but is rarely used in these applications now.

Decorative. Panelling, furniture, plywood, shop and office fixtures, joinery, turnery, carving, inlay work.

Others. Has been used for wine casks and brush stocks.

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Light brown to cream.

Heartwood. Red-brown, sometimes marked with small dark oily patches on longitudinal surfaces.

Texture. Uniform; grain often interlocked.

Wood structure

Growth rings. Absent

Vessels. Medium in size and uniform in distribution, mostly in short radial multiples, but some solitary. Vessel lines conspicuous. Dark red vessel contents common.

Parenchyma. Abundant in regularly spaced apotracheal bands, slightly lighter in colour than the background. On dressed tangential surfaces these bands of parenchyma give rise to an attractive figure.

Rays. Fine, visible with a lens.

Other features

Burning splinter test. Produces a full white ash. This, together with the distinctive odour, distinguishes the species from the very similar, and closely related timber, Miva mahogany, which burns to a charcoal.

Odour. Freshly cut wood has a distinctive aromatic odour.

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 16 August 2010