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