Scentless rosewood

Scientific name

Synoum muelleri, S. glandulosum. Family: Meliaceae

Other names

Northern scentless rosewood (S. muelleri); red sycamore (S. glandulosum)


  • Medium-sized tree grows to 20m high.
  • Stem is 0.5m diameter.
  • Trunk may be irregular and angular in cross-section but not prominently buttressed.
  • Bark is brown, very scaly, and 6–12mm thick.
  • Bark is shed in small, angular pieces.


  • S. muelleri: North Queensland coastal rainforests from Tully to Atherton Tableland.
  • S. glandulosum: coastal rainforests from the south coast of New South Wales to Bundaberg, Queensland.



  • Heartwood is red to reddish brown.
  • Sapwood may be paler but not always distinct from the heartwood.


  • Relatively close and uniform texture.
  • Mostly straight.
  • Similar to rose mahogany (Dysoxylum fraseranum) but without its characteristic odour.


  • Construction: historical use as sawn timber for general house framing, flooring, mouldings and joinery.
  • Decorative: furniture, shop and office fixtures, panelling, turnery, carving.
  • Others: structural plywood, scaffold planks, wood wool, paper products, particleboard, medium-density fibreboard.


  • Density: 625–675kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; about 1.5m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.
  • Strength groups: S. muelleri—(S6) unseasoned, (SD6) seasoned; S. glandulosum—(S5) unseasoned, (SD6) seasoned (brackets indicate provisional value).
  • Stress grades: S. muelleri—F4, F5, F7, F8, (unseasoned); S. glandulosum—F5, F7, F8, F11, (unseasoned); both species—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: S. glandulosum—6.3% (tangential), 3.4% (radial).
  • Unit shrinkage: S. glandulosum—0.27% (tangential), 0.18% (radial)—these values apply 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 is susceptible to lyctid borer attack.
  • Termite resistance: not resistant.
  • Preservation: sapwood readily impregnates with preservative, but penetration of heartwood is negligible using available commercial processes.
  • Seasoning: satisfactorily dries using conventional air and kiln seasoning.
  • Hardness: firm (rated 4 on a 6-class scale) to indent and work with hand tools.
  • Machining: machines, and turns well, to a smooth surface.
  • Fixing: no difficulty using standard fittings and fastenings.
  • Gluing: satisfactorily bonds using standard procedures.
  • Finishing: occasionally, boards develop beads of oil (oleo resin) on the surface, which stain the wood and prevent polish and paint adhering. If the timber is polished, this oiliness causes a dull blotchy bloom to appear, and if painted, the paint film will peel—to solve this, you should store dressed timber for several months and not use any boards that exude resin for finishing

Identification features

General characteristics

  • Sapwood: yellow to pink-red.
  • Heartwood: red to reddish brown.
  • Texture: medium to fine, straight grain.

Wood structure

  • Growth rings: absent.
  • Vessels: medium to small, invisible without a lens, solitary, with some short radial multiples, uniformly distributed; vessel lines are visible on dressed longitudinal surfaces; pale-coloured vessel deposits are common.
  • Parenchyma (soft tissue): abundant in numerous fine, short paratracheal and confluent regular bands.
  • Rays: fine, invisible without a lens.

Other features

  • Burning splinter test: produces a grey-white ash filament.
  • Surface characteristics: dressed surfaces are greasy to touch.

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.