Share this page:
Myrtle is a striking wood with rich red, brown, and almost orange tones and makes an excellent veneer and finishing timber.
It is believed the richness of colour comes from the quality of the soil it grows in. The deepest red myrtle comes from highly fertile soils on basalt. The colour is vibrant, combining subtle variations in tone with the texture and sheen of wavy and fiddleback features to produce a surface alive with character and individuality. While a pale and pink myrtle resource is available, commercial production concentrates on the deeper red variety. It is a close grained species with well defined annual rings but with little latewood.
Myrtle's fine aesthetic qualities are matched by its working properties. It is particularly easy to work and makes excellent veneer.
Taking a deep lustre when polished, Myrtle is prized by architects and furniture makers alike. It is used as a solid or veneer in high quality furniture, joinery, cabinet making and feature panelling in homes and offices, or as a striking finishing timber for cornices, architraves and skirting.
It has further applications for craft workers. Myrtle turns well and traditionally has been used for spindle turning and bowls. Craft workers particularly favour burls and knotty wood.
Myrtle is a predominant species in Tasmania’s cool temperate rainforests. In wet eucalypt forests, Myrtle grows as an understorey tree, and as a small shrub at higher altitudes when the site is exposed to wind. Achieving its best growth in highly organic soils, Myrtle in moist and sheltered conditions will flourish from sea level to 700m, though it can achieve significant growth rates through to 1570m.
Depending on available rainfall and humidity, Myrtle can be fairly fast growing. In optimum growing conditions, it is capable of regenerating continuously and forests can contain Myrtle trees ranging from 1 to 500 years old.
Myrtle is found in the north-west and west of the state, though small communities thrive on the Tasman Peninsula and South Bruny Island. 82% of total forest types containing Myrtle are in reserves.
Myrtle is a tall evergreen tree, reaching to 30-40m in height and can achieve a diameter of 1.5–2.5m. Their fine-textured leaves and dark green crown can give Myrtle trees a ragged appearance.
Myrtle flowers in spring, with very small light flowers growing on the new shoots at ends of branches. Female flowers grow in groups of three, just above the male flowers, which are either solitary or found occasionally in threes. ?Seeds are shed in late summer to early autumn. A parasitic fungus, Cyttaria gunii, often grows on Myrtle trees, causing round, dimpled orange fruit like protrusions.
New spring growth is red to bronze coloured, developing into a glossy green leaf. As they age, the leaves become thick, stiff and develop a dark green shade. Myrtle’s leaves are triangular in shape. They grow to 1-1.5cm and have a coarse blunt-tooth edge.
Myrtle bark is brown, scaly and slightly fibrous, and does not shed from the trunk.
Myrtle Technical Details
- Dressed seasoned timber 40 to 300 mm wide by 12 to 40 mm thick. Undressed seasoned timber 25 to 300mm wide by 25 to 50 mm thick. Lengths up to 4500 mm long are available, with the bulk of production between 2400 and 3000 mm long.
- Grain is mainly straight and occasionally wavy with clearly visible growth rings.
- Fine, uniform and smooth.
- Durability Description
- Termite resistance of heartwood: Not resistant. Myrtle has good durability for decorative, architectural and structural applications internally but is not recommended for external use. The in-ground durability of heartwood is low. Refer to AS 5604-2005 Timber - Natural durability ratings.
- In-ground: Class 4
- Above-ground: Class 3
- Movement - Shrinkage
- Approx. 3% radial, 6.5% tangential before reconditioning; 2.5% radial and 4.5% tangential after reconditioning.
- Unseasoned: 1100 kg/cu m
- Seasoned: 700 kg/cu m at 12% MC
- Strength Group
- Unseasoned: S4
- Seasoned: SD5
- Joint Group
- Unseasoned: J3
- Seasoned: JD3
- Structural Grades
- Most commonly available structural grade is number 3; F11 seasoned, F8 unseasoned.
- Toughness (Izod)
- Unseasoned: 12.0
- Seasoned: 13.0
- Hardness (Janka)
- Unseasoned: 4.0
- Seasoned: 5.9
Fire Hazard Properties
- Fire hazard Properties: Flooring (AS ISO 9239.1)
- Critial Radiant Heat Flux: 4.5 kW/m2 or greater
- Smoke Development Rate: Less than 750 %-min
- Fire Hazard Properties: Wall and Weiling Lining (AS/NZ 3837)
- Material Group: 3
- Average Extinction Area: Less than 250 m2/kg
- Cuts very cleanly and accurately with standard blades.
- Moderate feeding forces required. Surfaces very smooth and lustrous.
- Surfaces are true and clean, even end grain.
- Easy to drill. Holes are clean and to size.
- Rebating + Mortising
- Very good results may be obtained with relative ease.
- Nails very well, material does not tend to split. Pre-drilling is often necessary in seasoned material. Nails hold well.
- Glues satisfactorily with most common adhesives.
- An excellent bending timber. 25mm material bends well to a radius of 75mm.
- Readily worked to a smooth, lustrous surfaced. Most finishes adhere very well. Staining can be difficult.
Myrtle Environmental Details
- Native - Wet Eucalypt and Rainforest
- 82% of the total Myrtle forest types are reserved.
- Not available
- Chain of custody
- Carbon storage
- 308 kg/cu m
- R Values
- .57 (100mm)
- Not available
- Myrtle's availability is rare, and the resource is limited by quotas or predominant reservation.