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Monday, 18 Dec 2017

Wandoo

You may have noticed the attractive white barked trees around the Roleystone area. They are called Wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo) and are a minor woodland tree that is native to WA. While they are much less common than Marri and Jarrah, they are easily distinguished as they are the only local tree in the bush with smooth, yellowy-white bark. They should not be confused with paperbarks (Melaleuca) which are not gum trees. There are also several other types of large white barked gum trees that have been planted on verges (such as those on the Brookton Hwy near Peet Road) that are native to the eastern states and are not Wandoo.

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As most wood workers and firewood collectors will know, Wandoo is legendary for its hardness. While dry Marri and Jarrah are normally considered pretty hard at around 7.1 and 8.5kN respectively, Wandoo is off the scales with a whopping dry hardness of 15kN. With this hardness it is impossible to hammer in nails without pre drilling the holes and even then you will find yourself going through drill bits and frequently sharpening chainsaws.  Historically Wandoo floorboards would always be laid green when the hardness is "only" around 10!

Wandoo is the aboriginal name for the tree and there are records of aborigines using these trees for occasional water storage. Due to its exceptional hardness and durability it was soon used by colonists and prized for building purposes and implements such as shafts, cogs, naves, spokes and fellows. It was widely used in the goldfields and in the railways and was considered a superior timber to Jarrah as it does not warp. It was also harvested commercially for its tannins which were extracted from the bark and wood. It is a major source of high grade honey and when it blooms in summer the blossoms produce copious amounts of nectar.

Wandoo timber was originally available in large dimensions with logs commonly over 1m in diameter. Nowadays it is in relatively short supply, having been cleared over most of its range, and it is quite expensive. In many areas Wandoos are also suffering from a condition known as "Crown Decline" in which the upper and outer twigs brown off and die. The reason for this is unknown and it results in a noticeable decline in the tree canopy and may eventually cause the death of the tree.

Wandoo can be seen mixed in with other trees along the Brookton highway from around Stocker Rd to Colli & Sons. A good reserve to see them is in the Roley Pool Reserve around Collins/Thompson Rd where they are common and grow well in the heavy clay soil. These trees do not have crown decline but some of them have quite extraordinary "melting" bark patterns that form when the tree recovers from boring insect larvae damage.

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                                                           Photo above: Melting bark

 

 

 

      Photo on the right: Leaves and seeds

 

 

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