Wood of the Month:

Fast-Growing Hybrid Hardwood Enters Wood Products Market

By Jo-Ann Kaiser

 

FAMILY NAME

Hybrid of Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus urophylla of the Family Myrtaceae.

COMMON NAMES

Lyptus.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT

Plantation grown trees are harvested at heights of 140 feet with diameters of 2.5 feet. Weight is 3 to 4 pounds per board.

PROPERTIES

Lyptus lumber has a density similar to genuine mahogany and hickory with surface qualities similar to mahogany. Wood machines well without tear-out along or across the grain. Material sands and finishes well.

Lyptus is the trademarked name for a hybrid of two eucalyptus species, Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus urophylla. The trees are grown on plantations in South America alongside reintroduced indigenous trees that preserve native ecosystems. Lyptus is manufactured by Aracruz Wood Products in Bahia, Brazil and distributed in North America by Weyerhaeuser.

Lindsay Sargis, owner and purchasing agent for Johnson Brothers Millwork in Idaho Falls, ID, has been selling Lyptus since July 2002. He sells Lyptus as unfinished and finished flooring and stair parts, butcher block tops, interior moulding and lumber. Sargis' market includes Jackson Hole, WY, Bozeman, MT, Sun Valley, ID, and Salt Lake City, UT. "Lyptus is getting noticed," he says, noting that the positives include ease of machining and finishing and ecological benefits.

Jack Campbell, vice president of sales and marketing for Custom Cupboards in Wichita, KS, buys Lyptus from Weyerhaeuser and uses it to manufacture cabinetry that is sold through dealer networks from New York to San Francisco. He calls Lyptus an intriguing product. "It's something new and different that's exciting to people in the industry. It's finish-friendly and you can create interesting color combinations with it."

Campbell's firm has sold several kitchens made from Lyptus. "Our dealers have accepted the new product. I think there's a certain segment of the buying public, which is very concerned with finding products that are 'green.' The environmental aspect of Lyptus counts with them. The trees are grown on plantations, mature in 14 to 18 years, and the second growth sprouts from the stump where the first growth was cut."

Hardwood Similarities Count, too

End uses identified for the timber include furniture, cabinetry and architectural millwork. Lyptus is currently available in 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 and 8/4 thicknesses with other thicknesses expected from the manufacturer. Other in-stock products include plain sliced veneer, veneer plywood and particleboard panels, edgebanding, and solid flooring in standard and striped grades both finished or unfinished. Special order items include flitch veneers, including highly figured material, stair parts, mouldings and veneer flooring.

Weyerhaeuser reports in product literature that Lyptus has a hardness rating or modulus of rupture that is "greater than white oak, mahogany, red oak, hard maple or beech."

The lumber is said to have a density that ranges from that of genuine mahogany to hickory with surfacing qualities of genuine mahogany. Weyerhaeuser's product literature says, "The wood does not tear out along or across the grain as it is sawn or shaped. Very little after-shaping touch up sanding is required to achieve a smooth, semi-polished surface."

A spokesman for Weyerhaeuser compared drying Lyptus to drying white oak, both of which need to be air dried under controlled conditions for 6 to 9 months. The material is dried by the manufacturer to 6 to 8 percent moisture content.

While some compare the lumber to cherry in looks and hickory in density, others say Lyptus makes a good replacement for mahogany, and cherry.

Eucalyptus Crandis

One part of the hybrid, the species Eucalyptus grandis, gets the following writeup from the Windmill Outback Nursery at www.australiaplants.com. "E. grandis, also known as flooded gum and rose gum, is a straight-trunk tree with smooth bark, white, gray-white or blue gray in color. It is the most widely planted eucalyptus species and is noted for its timber production in Australia." The trees are native to coastal areas from Newcastle, New South Wales north into Queensland. The trees are described as "tall, up to 163 feet" yielding white flowers, and suitable for loam soil type.

Weyerhaeuser's product literature states that the naturally occurring hybrid of the two species was chosen "for the qualities of extremely fast growth and the ability to add clear, incremental and dense hardwood."

                                                                                                                                                                                           

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