Tree Dictionary: A
ALASKA-CEDAR (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis)
Other Names: Alaska yellow-cedar, yellow-cedar, nootka false cypress, yellow cypress, Alaska cypress, sitka cypress, and white cedar.
Range: Grows along northern Pacific coast of North America.
Appearance: Generally straight grained with a fine, even texture. Bright, clear yellow heartwood and narrow, white to yellowish sapwood, barely distinguishable from heartwood.
Physical Properties: Light and soft with moderate stiffness and strength, low shock resistance, and very high decay resistance and dimensional stability.
Working Properties: Works easily with hand or machine tools – turns and carves quite well. Glues, screws and nails satisfactorily. Takes a fine finish and wears smooth with use.
Uses: Used for interior and exterior finish, furniture, cabinetry, turnery, carving, boat building (decks, rails, paneling), marine piling, posts, novelties, engineers’ patterns, shingles, cladding, doors, and decorative veneer. Also used for battery containers due to high acid resistance.
ALDER, COMMON (Alnus glutinosa)
Other Names: Black alder, gray alder, and red alder.
Range: Grows in northern hemisphere – Europe, Russia, western Asia, and Japan. Red alder grows on Pacific coast of United States and Canada.
Appearance: Straight grained, fine textured, orange brown sapwood and heartwood with no outstanding figure.
Physical Properties: Moderately heavy and soft with low shock resistance, stiffness, and decay resistance.
Working Properties: Nails, screws, glues, and works well. Stains and polishes satisfactorily and sometimes stained to match other cabinet woods. Carves and turns quite well.
Uses: Used for broom and brush handles, textile rollers, toys, clogs, artificial limbs, cabinet work, plywood cores, and veneer.
ALDER, RED (Alnus rubra)
Other Names: Oregon alder, western alder.
Range: Grows along the Pacific coast of United States.
Appearance: Straight grained and even textured. Pale yellow to reddish brown with indistinct boundary between heartwood and softwood.
Physical Properties: Soft, light, not particularly strong, with good elasticity, medium stiffness, low shock resistance, low decay resistance, and good stability in service.
Working Properties: Works easily with hand or machine tools. Turns and carves extremely well. Marginal nail and screw holding properties. Glues, sands, stains and finishes easily.
Uses: Commonly used for panel core stock (one of the easiest commercial timbers to peel). Also used for interior furniture, sash, doors, millwork, and carving.
ASH, BLACK (Fraxinus nigra)
Other Names: Brown ash, swamp ash, basket ash, and hoop ash.
Range: Grows in United States and Canada.
Appearance: Generally straight grained with a coarse texture. Grayish brown heartwood and light brown sapwood.
Physical Properties: Moderately heavy and hard with medium strength, stiffness, and shock resistance. Softer, weaker and lighter than white ash. Poor resistance to abrasion and decay. Good stability in service.
Working Properties: Works well with hand or machine tools – easier than other ashes. Marginal turning and mortising properties. Glues satisfactorily. Holds nails and screws well but pre-drilling recommended. Stains and finishes well.
Uses: Used for interior trim, furniture (bent parts especially), basket weaving (splits easily along annual rings), dowels, plywood, and decorative veneer.
ASH, WHITE (Fraxinus americana)
Other Names: American ash, Biltmore ash, and cane ash.
Range: Grows in United States and Canada.
Appearance: Generally straight grained with a coarse texture. Pale-brown heartwood and almost white sapwood.
Physical Properties: Moderately heavy, hard, strong, quite elastic and tough with moderately high shock resistance, good dimensional stability, and poor decay resistance.
Working Properties: Machines fairly well with machine tools although turning and mortising properties are marginal. Glues, screws, and nails satisfactorily. Stains and finishes well, although filling may be required.
Uses: Furniture, cooperage, baseball bats, boat oars, ladders, chairs, food containers, agricultural implements, tool handles, plywood, and decorative veneer.
ASPEN, QUAKING (Populus tremuloides)
Other Names: Aspen and trembling aspen.
Range: Grows in north-eastern and north-central United States.
Appearance: Straight grained with a fine, uniform texture. Grayish white to grayish brown heartwood and lighter-colored sapwood. Often sold as poplar or cottonwood.
Physical Properties: Soft, light, and low in strength, stiffness, decay resistance and shock resistance. Dents very easily.
Working Properties: Easily worked by hand or machine tools. Turns reasonably well.
Uses: Used for pallets, boxes, matches, turned articles, veneer, particleboard, and pulpwood.
AUSTRALIAN OAK (Eucalyptus spp.)
Other Names: Includes three species marketed together – E. delegatensis (alpine ash, white-top, woollybutt), E. obliqua (messmate stringybark, brown-top stringybark), and E. regnans (mountain ash, Victorian ash, stringy gum, swamp gum).
Range: Grows in south-eastern Australia.
Appearance: Typically straight grained, sometimes interlocked or wavy, with a coarse texture. Narrow, indistinct sapwood and pale brown to light brown heartwood with a pinkish tinge.
Physical Properties: Moderately heavy to heavy, hard, moderately stiff, high crushing strength, medium bending strength, and moderately high shock resistance. Medium movement in use and decay resistance.
Working Properties: Works well with hand or machine tools with only a moderate blunting effect on cutting edges. Glues satisfactorily and holds nails and screws well. Stains and polishes easily and can be brought to an excellent finish.
Uses: Used for interior and exterior joinery, building construction, boxes, cooperage, flooring, furniture, sports equipment, agricultral implements, tool handles, plywood, and decorative veneer.
Note: Sold as Australian or Tasmanian oak but not a true oak.