Talking Trees

A Blog by John Halkett

Category: Wood (page 1 of 2)

From primitive rafts to speedy bombers

Bulsa Plantation

The world’s lightest hardwood continues to be widely grown. Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) is a large, fast-growing tree native from southern Mexico to southern Brazil, but can now be found in many other countries, including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Solomon Islands.

Balsa trees can establish themselves in forest clearings or on abandoned agricultural fields and grow extremely rapidly. Their speed of growth accounts for the lightness of the wood, which has a lower density

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Rubber … from the Spanish Court to pneumatic tyres

Tapping a rubber tree

Rubber trees (Hevea bransiliensis) are tall deciduous trees growing to a height of up to 45 metres in the wild, but cultivated trees are usually much smaller because drawing off latex restricts growth. The inner bark oozes latex when damaged.

Native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, rubber trees where originally called caoutchouc, from the indigenous cauchy, or ‘weeping wood’. The rubber tree is a member of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family. Its

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New Book Now Available

Book Cover

My sixth book: By the light of the Sun: Trees, wood, photosynthesis and climate change has now been published. The mission of this book is to detail how to better harness the power of the products of photosynthesis to offset adverse climate change. Specifically this book asserts that trees and forests, plus wood products, will be even more important in assisting to tackle climate change, and in contributing to a sustainable energy and carbon neutral future. This book details how

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By the light of the sun

Cover Images of trees

This is a bit of advanced warning about my new book soon to be published. By the light of the Sun: Trees, wood, photosynthesis and climate change is about how, through the miracle of photosynthesis trees and wood, can confront climate change. The aim of this upcoming book is to detail how to better harness the power of the products of photosynthesis to offset adverse climate change. Specifically this book asserts that trees and forests, plus wood products, will be even more important

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Red gums sentinels to First Fleet arrival

Red-gum

The only surviving eucalypts from the natural forest in the garden are two twin red gums perched up on the cliff behind the Opera House on the Bennelong lawn. No doubt they were mere saplings in 1788 when the 11 tall, wooden ships of the First Fleet arrived in Sydney. Incredibly, this Bennelong twins alone have survived so close to the city. Referring to them, Ashley Hay (Gum, 2002 Duffy & Snellgrove, Potts Point, NSW, Australia.) wrote:

The view from [its] crown began to change from the

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Chinese paulownia trees in Australia

Paulownia plantation, Richmond, NSW

Paulownia is a deciduous hardwood tree native to parts of Asia, notably China, and is well known for its vigorous growth and capacity to be grown over short rotations. Its timber is noted for its workability and outstanding strength to weight ratio. Paulownia timber is light in colour, with a gradual transition from sapwood to heartwood. The timber has a low density (260-350 kilograms per cubic metre, at 15 percent moisture content). It is a straight grained, soft timber which is easy

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Jungle book now available

Dr Lyndall Bull, director, Forestry Tasmania, and Cr Christine Sindt, Latrobe City, Victoria, congratulate John Halkett at the book launch at the Melbourne Outlook and Insights Conference.

Billed as the Book of the Month for September Jungle Jive: Sustaining the forests of Southeast Asia takes a constructive look at jungle conservation, arguing that implementing economic measures that value jungle trees is the way to sustain them and their biological values. The central thesis of the book is the need to inject a dose of economic realism into a subject that has been long on superlatives and emotion, but short on commercial reality. The book sets out an argument for that in

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Radiata pine – ‘super wood’ of the 21st century

Radiata pine now one of the major plantation trees across temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere and the basis of substantial forest industries.

Pine plantations began to be established in Australia from the 1870s as insurance against diminishing supplies of timber from native forests. Early attempts to find suitable pine plantation species for Australian conditions gave rise to planting trials using a wide variety of species. Pines from north and central America, Europe and the Mediterranean, from the Himalayas and Eastern Asia were all tried.

While several showed promise, the most successful was Monterey or radiata pine. This species

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Feedback on correspondence

Harvesting radiata pine – blog coming soon.

We have had an issue with the posting of comments directly on the blog site – corrected now. That aside, I have received some interesting emails and even a positive, pleasant comment from the Federal Government Department of Apiculture and Water Resources – so thanks.

Roger Underwood from Western Australia likes the blog and sent me an article advocating the planting of northern hemisphere deciduous trees in bushfire-prone areas of WA. His article also provides a really interesting commentary

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Penang mahogany tree

Sole remaining mahogany tree from those planted in 1885.

Just back from working in Penang, Malaysia. This mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) tree is the sole remaining survivor of those planted in the church grounds in1885.

The church, St George The Martyr, is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. It was built by convicts brought in from India in 1819. A critical component of the church’s construction was mahogany beams that travelled from India to Penang on the same ship as the convicts.

The church was damaged by Japanese bombing in 1941 and

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