Beech, Myrtle

Myrtle beech is an attractive Australian hardwood used for internal-use applications such as decorative veneers, paneling, joinery and flooring.

Other Names

Beech, Tasmanian Myrtle, Southern Myrtle, Myrtle

Botanical Name

Nothofagus cunninghamii

Common Form
Veneer
Species Type

Myrtle beech, also known as Tasmanian myrtle, is a medium-sized hardwood that mainly grows in the temperate rainforest areas of Tasmania and eastern Victoria. While its name may imply otherwise, myrtle beech has no connection to the European myrtle. The name ‘myrtle’ is believed to have come from the early timber workers.

The heartwood can be pink or a more popular warm reddish brown and may also feature traces of orange, while the sapwood is pale and narrow. Even-textured, myrtle beech has a fine grain that can be straight, interlocked or feature a fiddleback pattern. Growth rings may also be visible. The burls and knotty wood of myrtle beech are favoured by craftspeople.

While myrtle beech is good for steam bending, it only provides moderate workability. Some collapse can occur through drying.

A strong and dense timber, it is not particularly durable, and due to its generally colour-rich appearance, myrtle beech is favoured for internal applications such as decorative veneers, high-end joinery, furniture and flooring. Myrtle Beech is also used for bridge and wharf decking and plywood.

Shrinkage

Very Low Low Medium High Very High

Tangential :

4.70%

Radial :

2.30%

Unit Movement Tangential:

0.32%

Unit Movement Radial:

0.18%

Strength Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium High

Medium

Reasonably Low

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

S1

S2

S3

S4

S5

S6

S7

Seasoned:

SD1

SD2

SD3

SD4

SD5

SD6

SD7

SD8

Stress Grade

Structural
No. 1
Structural
No. 2
Structural
No. 3
Structural
No. 4
Structural
No. 5

Unseasoned:

F14

F11

F8

F7

F5

Seasoned:

F17

F14

F11

F8

F7

Density per Standard

Seasoned:

700kg/m3

Unseasoned:

1100kg/m3

Joint Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

J1

J2

J3

J4

J5

J6

Seasoned:

JD1

JD2

JD3

JD4

JD5

JD6

Colour

  White, yellow, pale straw to light brown Pink to pink brown Light to dark red Brown, chocolate, mottled or streaky
   

Mechanical Properties

Modulus of Rupture - Unseasoned:

71

Modulus of Rupture - Seasoned:

108

Modulus of Elasticity - Unseasoned:

12

Modulus of Elasticity - Seasoned:

14

Maximum Crushing Strength - Unseasoned:

33

Maximum Crushing Strength - Seasoned:

56

Impact - Unseasoned:

12

Impact - Seasoned:

13

Toughness - Unseasoned:

Medium - 15 - 24 Nm

Toughness - Seasoned:

Low - up to 15 Nm

Hardness - Unseasoned:

4.4

Hardness - Seasoned:

5.9

Durability

Low Moderate Reasonably High High
(0 - 5 yrs) (5 - 15 yrs) (15 - 25 yrs) (more than 25 yrs)

In-Ground:

(0 - 7 yrs) (7 - 15 yrs) (15 - 40 yrs) (More than 40 yrs)

Above ground:

(0 - 20 yrs, usually < 5) (21 - 40 yrs) (41 - 64 yrs) (More than 60 yrs)

Marine Borer Resistance:

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility:

Susceptible

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility - Other:

Termite Resistance:

Not Resistant

Fire Properties

Critical Radiance Flux - Lower:

>2.2 and <4.5 kW/m2

Critical Radiance Flux - Higher:

≥4.5 kW/m2

Smoke Development Rate:

<750
1 - non-combustible 2 - reasonably non-combustible 3 - slightly combustible 4 - combustible

Fire Properties Group
Number:

Average Specific Extinction Area:

<250

Bushfire Resistance:

BAL 12.5 and 19 – Door and window joinery only
Appearance

Myrtle beech is favoured as an appearance timber due to its rich reddish-brown heartwood, grain characteristics, fine texture and its ability to provide a very smooth finish. It has narrow, pale almost whitish sapwood and may also feature visible growth rings.

The grain may be straight, interlocked or feature a wavy, fiddleback pattern. The burls add to the timber’s appeal for veneers, joinery and furniture. Pale and pink myrtle variations are also available, which are generally used for commercial applications.

 

Common Applications

While myrtle beech is a strong and dense timber, it is not particularly durable and is primarily an appearance timber. Its main applications include decorative veneers, paneling, high-end joinery, furniture and flooring. Other applications include bridge and wharf decking and plywood.

 

Workability

Myrtle beech only provides a moderate workability but will deliver a very smooth finish – perfect for internal applications. It can be difficult to glue and care needs to be taken when nailing to avoid splitting the timber. It is suitable for steam bending and turning. myrtle beech generally accepts most timber coatings and oils well.

 

Origin of timber
VIC
Readily Available
VIC
Myrtle beech is mainly available in Tasmania and Victoria. Check with local suppliers in other states and territories.
Source of timber
Native Forest
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Joinery

Timber joinery offers a classic, stylish touch to any interior or exterior space.
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Mouldings

Mouldings are extremely versatile and durable, enhancing the aesthetics of any interior and functioning as the icing on the cake for designs with a focus on beauty and splendour.

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