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... J. H. Maiden
USEFUL AUSTRALIAN PLANTS ... ... ...
Bloodwood (Eucalyptus corymbosa).
BOTANICAL NOTES ..
Durability of Yellow-box Timber (Eucalyptus melliodora).
GENERAL NOTES ... ...
... To prevent Rust in Iron Pipes; Tomatoes all the year round,
AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES' SHOWS FOR 1896 ...
It is hereby notified that all matter contained in the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales is protected by copyright. Newspapers desirous of republishing any articles may do so, and are merely required to make the usual acknowledgment.
4th June, 1894.
Useful Australian Plants.
By J. H. MAIDEN,
No. 23.—THE BLOODWOOD (Eucalyptus corymbosa, Sm.). The name was given in allusion to the circumstance that from the tree there erudes large quantities of red gum (kino), which strongly resembles dried blood. In fact, where this substance has splashed at the foot of a tree, the appearance to a stranger is sometimes quite startling. Not only is the name appropriate to this tree, but no other eucalypt is called bloodwood without a qualifying adjective, consequently there is no ambiguity in the use of the name.
Aboriginal Names.—“Boona," of some tribes in South Queensland. "Mannen” was the aboriginal name of the tribes in the counties of Cumberland and Camden, New South Wales, according to the late Sir William JacArthur. Mr. Forester G. R. Brown states that the name amongst the blacks of the Port Macquarie district is " Bookey barng,” the word “barng” signifying “ tree.” In a catalogue of timbers, published many years ago, Jr. Charles Moore stated it to be the “Weni Aabie" of the aborigines of the Clarence and Richmond.
Botanical name.-Eucalyptus (already explained). Corymbosa, from the Greek korumbos, or Latin corymbus, a suminit. Hence the term corymb, in botany, when the stalks of the individual flowers are gradually elongated, 80 that the flowers are brought approximately to the same level (or top, or summit). The inflorescence of the bloodwood, as may be seen from our illustration, is not a perfect corginb.
Flower3.– White or creamy in colour. The bloodwood flowers at a very early age and very profusely. It is in consequence much visited by parrots, and bees and other insects. The aborigines used to suck these flowers or steep them in water for the sake of the honey they contain.
Pruit.-The urn-shaped fruit of the Bloodwood cannot readily be mistaken for that of any other eucalypt, although those of a very few species approach it somewhat.
Leaves. The fine parallel venation of the leaves should be observed, for It is characteristic. If the very young leaves be pulled asunder it will be noticed that they are drawn into fine glutinous threads or ribbons, which are largely composed of caoutchouc or india-rubber.
In common with all other Eucalyptus leaves, those of the Bloodwood contain some Eucalyptus oil, but not in quantity sufficient to make its extraction commercially profitable. Over thirty years ago Mr. Joseph Bosisto distilled a little for experimental purposes. Recently Messrs. Schimmel & Co. of Leipzig, have prepared a small quantity, and describe it as a colourless oil, rich in Cineol (Eucalyptol).
Exudation.—The kino or red “gum " which exudes from this tree, has already been briefly referred to. When freshly exuded it has a distinct smell, which appears to be characteristic, and is soon recognised. It is something of a vinous odour. Much of the kino exuded becomes entangled in the scaly, porous bark, but one frequently comes across quite a store of the substance, through tapping the communication with a reservoir which has collected behind the bark, or between the concentric circles of the wood. The passage gets choked up with indurated kino, but picking off the substance often causes the stream to flow afresh.
It is the most brilliant in appearance of all kinos. It is exceedingly friable, and it is highly astringent. The blacks used to chiefly employ this kino for tanning the skins of animals. Their modus operandi was to skin the animal, put in the “gum” and some water, tie up, and shake the skin “bottle" until the tanning was complete.
Bark. The scaly appearance of this bark is characteristic, and should be noticed. It covers the whole of the trunk and extends to the tips of the smallest branches. It is of a reddish-brown colour and is often blotched with blood-like stains of kino.
Timber.- Blood wood is valuable for purposes for which a durable timber is required. For posts in the ground, and for use in culverts, it is all but imperishable. The great draw-back to this timber is its liability to gum-veins, but in spite of this, I look upon much of the prejudice against bloodwood as unreasonable. It would be unacceptable for export, as we have abundance of better all-round timbers, but I certainly think it ought to be used more than it is where readily available. I would encourage its use by public officers for fencing, culverts, wharves, &c. Where not too defective, I should look upon it as an ideal timber for wood-paving. By too defective, I refer to cases where the timbers shells too much, but the presence of gum-veins of moderate width in timber ench as this and grey gum, I would not look upon as an important defect in wood blocks, as this astringent “gum " tends to preserve the blocks rather than to injure them. I have seen timber rejected for wood blocks because of gum scabs and gum veins, which would of course be inadmissible in a furniture wood, for instance, but which would in no way be detrimental to a wood pavement. The scrupulous care which is insisted upon in some contracts to reject wood blocks because of gum-veins, some. times degenerates into mere faddism, and it is only possible to select so severely, because at present we have an enormous timber supply to fall back upon. I would, therefore, recommend the framing of wood block contracts in such a way as to allow the inspecting officer some latitude in dealing with timber containing gum veins. Occasionally, bloodwood is found pretty free from gum veins, or the veins are wide apart. When this is the case it is sometimes cut up for lining boards in country districts.
I have written this article to see if I can do something to rehabilitate the reputation of bloodwood timber, and to show that the prejudice against it is often as unreasonable as that of the wearer of jewels against opal.
The other day I was in a country district where (amongst other timbers), there is plenty of bloodwood and stringybark. I got into conversation with a very old resident who does fencing, amongst other things. He informed me that he erected the fence where we were standing. It was stringybark, both rails and posts. “But," said I, “ here are bloodwoods all over the place; what did rou make the posts of stringy bark for? “Because I was told to do so; if people only knew how durable bloodwood is they would use it wherever they can." Half-round stringybark posts are easier to get out than those of blood wood, and consequently cheaper, so for a small present economy