Donn ex Sm.
E. marginata subsp. marginata
Eucalyptus marginata is one of the most common species of Eucalyptus tree in the southwest of Western Australia. The tree and the wood are usually referred to by the Aboriginal name jarrah. Because of the similar appearance of worked jarrah timber to the Honduras mahogany, jarrah was once called Swan River mahogany after the river system that runs through Perth.
The tree grows up to 40 metres (130 ft) high with a trunk up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) in diameter, and has rough, greyish-brown, vertically grooved, fibrous bark which sheds in long flat strips. The leaves are often curved, 8–13 centimetres (3.1–5.1 in) long and 1.5–3 centimetres (0.59–1.18 in) broad, shiny dark green above and paler below. The species' scientific name marginata refers to the light-coloured vein on the border around its leaves. The stalked flower buds appear in clusters of between 7 and 11; each bud has a narrow, conical bud cap 5–9 millimetres (0.20–0.35 in) long. The flowers are white, 1–2 centimetres (0.39–0.79 in) in diameter, and bloom in spring and early summer. The fruits are spherical to barrel-shaped, and 9–16 millimetres (0.35–0.63 in) long and broad.
The bark of this Eucalyptus is not shed in patches as it is with many others, but splits into fibrous strips. Jarrah trees are also unusual in that they have a lignotuber, a large underground swelling which stores carbohydrates and allows young trees to regenerate after a fire. Because they are deep-rooted, as much as 40 metres (130 ft), jarrah are drought resistant and able to draw water from great depths during dry periods.
Jarrah is an important element in its ecology, providing numerous habitats for animal life - especially birds and bees - while it is alive, and in the hollows that form as the heartwood decays. When it falls, it provides shelter to ground-dwellers such as the chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii), a carnivorous marsupial.
Jarrah is very vulnerable to dieback, the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi, which causes root-rot. In large sections of the Darling Scarp there have been various measures to reduce the spread of dieback by washing down vehicles, and restricting access to areas of forest not yet infected.
Jarrah produces a dark, thick, tasty honey, but its wood is its main use. It is a heavy wood, with a specific gravity of 1.1 when green. Its long, straight trunks of richly coloured and beautifully grained termite-resistant timber make it valuable for cabinet making, flooring, panelling and outdoor furniture. The finished lumber has a deep rich reddish-brown colour and an attractive grain. When fresh, jarrah is quite workable but when seasoned it becomes so hard that conventional wood-working tools are near useless on it. It is very durable and water resistant, making it a choice structural material for bridges, wharves, railway sleepers, ship building and telegraph poles.
Jarrah wood is very similar to that of Karri, Eucalyptus diversicolor. Both trees are found in the southwest of Australia, and the two woods are frequently confused. They can be distinguished by cutting an unweathered splinter and burning it: karri burns completely to a white ash, whereas jarrah forms charcoal. Most of the best jarrah has been logged in southwestern Australia.
A large amount was exported to the United Kingdom, where it was cut into blocks and covered with asphalt for roads. One of the large exporters in the late nineteenth century was M. C. Davies who had mills from the Margaret River to the Augusta region of the southwest, and ports at Hamelin Bay and Flinders Bay.
The local poet Dryblower Murphy wrote a poem in the early twentieth century about the potential to extract alcohol from jarrah timber "Comeanavajarrah", suggesting that the resource was an endless one for exploitation.
Jarrah has become more highly prized, and supports an industry that recycles it from demolished houses. Even so, in 2004, old 4-by-2-inch (10 by 5 cm) recycled jarrah was routinely advertised in Perth papers for under $1.50 per metre. Larger pieces of the timber were produced in the early history of the industry, from trees of great age, and these are also recovered from the demolition of older buildings.
Offcuts and millends, dead and fire-affected jarrah also sell as firewood for those using wood for heating in Perth, and 1-tonne (2,200 lb) loads can (as of winter 2005) exceed $160 per load. Jarrah tends to work well in slow combustion stoves and closed fires and generates a greater heat than most other available woods.
Jarrah is used in musical instrument making, for percussion instruments and guitar inlays.
Because of its remarkable resistance to rot, jarrah is used to make hot tubs.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eucalyptus marginata.|
- Lintern, Melvyn; Anand, Ravi; Ryan, Chris; Paterson, David (2013). "Natural gold particles in Eucalyptus leaves and their relevance to exploration for buried gold deposits". Nature Communications 4. doi:10.1038/ncomms3614. ISSN 2041-1723.
- Powell, Robert James and Emberson, Jane (1978).An old look at trees : vegetation of south-western Australia in old photographs Perth : Campaign to Save Native Forests (W.A.). ISBN 0-9597449-3-2 - has photographs of significant large old Jarrah trees from the Swan Coastal Plain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
- found in Jarrahland Jingles
- Boland, D. J.; et al. (1984). Forest Trees of Australia (Fourth edition revised and enlarged). CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. ISBN 0-643-05423-5..
- Powell, Robert (1990). Leaf and Branch: Trees and Tall Shrubs of Perth. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth, Western Australia. ISBN 0-7309-3916-2..