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Damson

Scientific name

Terminalia sericocarpa. Family: Combretaceae

Other names

Sovereignwood; bandicoot; damson plum

Description

  • Semi-deciduous tree.
  • Grows to 30m high with a spread of 5m.
  • Stem grows to 1m diameter.
  • Stem is typically buttressed, well-formed and branching.
  • Bark is black or grey, tessellated, and fissured.
  • Crown is symmetrical.

Occurrence

  • Widespread across tropical Australia.
  • Occurs from Rockhampton to Cape York, around the Gulf of Carpentaria, across to the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Appearance

Colour

  • Heartwood is pale gold to yellowish brown.
  • Sapwood is yellow but not always distinct.

Grain

  • Sometimes interlocked.

Uses

  • Construction: house framing, flooring, linings, mouldings, scantling.
  • Decorative: interior joinery, cabinet making.
  • Others: serviette rings, paper weights, rulers, walking sticks.

Properties

  • Density: 640kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; about 1.6m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.
  • Strength groups: (S5) unseasoned, (SD6) seasoned.
  • Stress grades: F5, F7, F8, F11 (unseasoned); F7, F8, F11, F14 (seasoned) when visually stress graded according to AS 2082—2000: Timber—Hardwood—Visually stress-graded for structural purposes.
  • Joint groups: J3 unseasoned, JD3 seasoned.
  • Shrinkage to 12% MC: about 6.0% (tangential), 3 to 4% (radial).
  • Unit shrinkage: not available.
  • 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 lyctine borer attack.
  • Termite resistance: not resistant.
  • Preservation: sapwood impregnates with preservative.
  • Seasoning: seasons well.
  • Hardness: firm (rated 4 on a 6-class scale) to indent and work with hand tools.
  • Machining: relatively easy to work.
  • Fixing: no difficulty using standard fittings and fastenings.
  • Gluing: satisfactorily bonds using standard procedures.
  • Finishing: readily accepts paint, stain and polish.

Identification features

General characteristics

  • Sapwood: not obviously different from heartwood.
  • Heartwood: pale gold to yellow-brown.
  • Texture: coarse and uniform, grain very interlocked.

Wood structure

  • Vessels: large, clearly visible to the naked eye, solitary and radial groups of 2–3, numerous and uniform distribution; lacks deposits; prominent vessel lines.
  • Parenchyma (soft tissue): vasicentric, aliform and confluent.
  • Rays: fine.

Other features

  • Burning splinter test: wood burns, with lots of smoke, and exudes resin, to a grey-white ash with black streaks.

Research and resources

  • Boland, DJ, Brooker, MIH, Chippendale, GM, Hall, N, Hyland, BPM, Johnston, RD, Kleinig, DA and Turner, JD 2006, Forest trees of Australia, 5th ed., CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Australia.
  • Bootle, K 2005, Wood in Australia: Types, properties and uses, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, Sydney.
  • Ilic, J 1991, CSIRO atlas of hardwoods, Crawford House Press, Bathurst, Australia.
  • Queensland Government, DAF 2018, Construction timbers in Queensland: Properties and specifications for satisfactory performance of construction timbers in Queensland. Class 1 and Class 10 buildings, Books 1 & 2, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  • Standards Australia, 2000, AS 2082—2000: Timber—Hardwood—Visually stress-graded for structural purposes, Standards Australia International, Strathfield, NSW.