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Wood IDs #6: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 1 of 3

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 03-24-2009 12:49 PM 6111 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Mystery fallen tree in LA - my biggest haul yet Part 6 of Wood IDs series Part 7: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 2 of 3 »

I went out for a walk from work late in the day last week sometime, through a neighborhood I’d not explored. At its end, I encountered a fallen gum tree, and as probably seems the right response to many in here, was overcome with joy. It had obviously been down for a while. These LA people sure don’t understand what treasure there is to be had in their trash. I determined to come back for it at night… sometime.

fallen gum tree in LA neighborhood

Uncharacteristically for timid ol’ me, I went back that night, after midnight, under cover of darkness with a completely inadequate Japanese pull saw, meant for things like cutting pegs flush with boards. It’s all I could scrounge up. Two trips later, a total of 3 hours of building up callouses on my hand as I sawed and got the saw bound in the wet, swelling wood over and over (in the end, ruining its blade with a kink right in the middle), I was home with the prize:

Eucalyptus limbs back in my garage after a midnight raid on a fallen tree in an LA suburb

Eucalyptus limbs

Lots of branches, great for turnings, and this large trunk piece that I couldn’t cut (tried for 40 minutes), which I just had to push through the hatch and out the passenger window:

Eucalyptus trunk

Eucalyptus trunk

Eucalyptus trunk with my foot for scale

There’s quite a variety of subtle colorings and textures in the peeling bark of this thing, and it was a joy to explore it all.

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus bark

Eucalyptus tree with something like an enormous knot

The end grains, as usual for me were very interesting, and had an exotic look to them – patterns and textures that reminded me of things like cocobolo, padauk, and Honduran mahogany. The smaller limbs had interesting eccentricity to their rings.

Eucalyptus limb end grain

Eucalyptus limb end grain

Eucalyptus limb end grain

But that wasn’t the coolest part. The coolest part was the boring insects, and what they’d done to the tree, besides kill it :) The larger limbs were infested with the Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer, which I learned a lot more about here. I found larval insects that look exactly like the one halfway down the page at that link, leaving trails and excrement exactly as seen there, only everywhere under the bark. The damage they cause is beautiful, and deadly:

Eucalyptus tree showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

Eucalyptus tree showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

Eucalyptus tree showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

Eucalyptus tree showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

Eucalyptus tree showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

Eucalyptus bark showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

Eucalyptus tree showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

The seemingly solid bark peels away easily under finger pressure, revealing the boring insect’s ‘mud’ beneath:

Eucalyptus tree showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

Eucalyptus bark showing damage from Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae

And now, for identificational purposes, here are some closeups of the leaves and seed pods, which I remembered to include in the haul. There are over 700 species of Eucalyptus, many known as gums, but there are also several pitfalls to identifying them, as this comment at a UK gardening site notes.

Eucalyptus seed pods

Eucalyptus twigs, leaves, and seed pods

Eucalyyptus twigs, leaves, and seed pods

Eucalyptus leaves

Eucalyptus seed pods on a twig

Believe it or not, there are many more pictures in the flickr set. Part 2 to come soon will involve cutting up most of the larger logs and sealing them with Rockler’s Green Wood End Sealer. Part 3 will be a green turning I made that revealed some striking beauty hiding inside. Stay tuned! Also, if you know the exact species of this Eucalyptus, I’d love to hear it!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator



4 comments so far

View PG_Zac's profile

PG_Zac

366 posts in 2854 days


#1 posted 03-24-2009 01:28 PM

Gary,
I’m no expert in identifying the species in the Eucalyptus family, but this I know – It is beautiful wood.

There are plenty of subtle and not so subtle colors ranging from yellow through blue, pink, brown, blonde, and more. Several of the types of gum have a very hard wood with very entwined grain, making it a b!tch to work with sometimes, but always beautiful.

I’m looking forward to the pics of the turnings.

Good haul – AGAIN!

BTW – while you are looking for your woods, keep your eyes open for guava – It is a surprising wood.

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3287 days


#2 posted 03-24-2009 01:34 PM

At this rate you need to seriously consider trading in your car for a truck!! It would make hauling all this wood a lot easier. I just assume that you have not run out of room to store it yet. :)

This is a lot of wood that you have been scavenging. But this is a wonderful story since you get free wood and save it from going into a landfill or being converted into mulch. It is going to be interesting to see what you can come up with from this eucalyptus.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View StevenAntonucci's profile

StevenAntonucci

355 posts in 3404 days


#3 posted 03-24-2009 02:55 PM

I’d be interested in seeing what you make from the branches. As a turner, I tend to leave the small diameter stuff on the ground because it doesn’t give me enough material to work with. If I was making “stick” furniture, I’d have loaded my truck twice, especially after seeing the insect damage! I think it would make an awesome twig project.

-- Steven

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1000 posts in 2847 days


#4 posted 03-24-2009 07:36 PM

Zac – will do on the guava! Euc has been surprising me over and over the more I’ve read up on it. The green piece turned really well, though I did not have the right tool(s) for the inside bit. I remedied, or at least began to remedy that on a trip immediately after that to Rockler, but I still need some more tools and experience (who doesn’t? :)

Scott – more than seriously considering it. I just need to do the research. I will have a truck inside the year, and probably even within the next few months. My 9-year-old hatchback is falling apart. I think it’s obvious why.

Steven – Can’t get too tiny! Ever seen Mike Rowe's turnings? I’m finding something about as fascinating as the insect damage in every bit of wood I pick up here in LA. I’ll have to make a list of what I’ve found, and what impressed or startled me about each one, because it’s been literally everything so far!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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