Western Beech (also known as Tasmanian Myrtle) is a medium sized hardwood, belonging to the same family as the beeches in Europe. It is the major species found in Tasmanian rainforests. With colour varying from pink to a warm reddish brown, Western Beech is even-textured and has a fine grain that can be straight, interlocked or feature a fiddleback pattern. Western Beech can produce knotty wood and burls, which are highly coveted and invariably favoured and sought by Craftspeople. Tiger Myrtle is perhaps the rarest of the Western Beech colour decorations, with the “tiger stripe” of contrasting dark brow and black. Myrtle makes an excellent veneer and finishing timber, delivering a very smooth finish. It is also suitable for steam bending and turning.
Tasmanian Myrtle, Myrtle Beech
20-30m tall, 1-1.5m trunk diameter
Heartwood is a pink or light reddish brown. Narrow sapwood is paler, and is ambiguously demarcated by a zone of intermediate coloration. Can have a wavy or curly grain which has a very satiny appearance. Much more uncommon, Tasmanian Myrtle can also have dark black streaks in the wood, sometimes referred to as “tiger myrtle.”
Grain is usually straight, but may be interlocked, wavy, or curly. Texture is very fine and uniform, with a high natural lustre.
Diffuse-porous (sometimes semi-ring-porous); very small pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and commonly in radial multiples of 2-4; tyloses occasionally present; growth rings distinct; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma absent.
Rated as non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance. Also susceptible to insect attack.
Tasmanian Myrtle generally produces excellent results with both hand and machine tools; however, areas of figured wood with abnormal grain can pose difficulties in machining. Can be difficult to air-dry heartwood material without defects. Responds very well to steam bending. Turns superbly. Glues, stains, and finishes well.
No characteristic odour.
Tasmanian Myrtle is commonly available in Australia in the form of lumber and turning blanks. It is very infrequently exported to the United States.
Veneer, plywood, boatbuilding, turned objects, carving, flooring, and furniture.