Acacia melanoxylon

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Australian Blackwood
File:Acacia melanoxylon.jpg
Flowering twigs of Acacia melanoxylon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Acacia
Species: A. melanoxylon
Binomial name
Acacia melanoxylon
Range of Acacia melanoxylon
  • Acacia arcuata Spreng.
  • Acacia melanoxylon R.Br. var. arcuata (Spreng.) Ser.
  • Acacia melanoxylon R.Br. var. obtusifolia Ser.
  • Acacia melanoxylum R.Br.
  • Mimosa melanoxylon (R.Br.) Poir.
  • Racosperma melanoxylon (R.Br.) C.Mart.
  • Racosperma melanoxylon (R.Br.) Pedley[1]

Acacia melanoxylon, commonly known as the Australian blackwood, is an Acacia species native in eastern Australia. The species is also known as Sally wattle, lightwood, hickory, mudgerabah, Tasmanian blackwood or black wattle.

File:Acacia melanoxylon Seeds.jpg
Acacia melanoxylon R. Br. ex Ait. f. foliage and seed pods
File:Acme 001 lhp.jpg
Acacia melanoxylon R. Br. ex Ait. f. seeds


Acacia melanoxylon is valued for its highly decorative timber which may be used as a cabinet timber, for musical instruments or in boatbuilding.


Sapwood may range in colour from straw to grey-white with clear demarcation from the heartwood. The heartwood is golden to dark brown with chocolate growth rings. The timber is generally straight grained but may be wavy or interlocked. Quartersawn surfaces may produce an attractive fiddleback figure. The wood is lustrous and possesses a fine to medium texture.[2]


Acacia melanoxylon timber has a density of approximately 660 kg/m3 and is strong in compression, resistant to impact and is moderately stiff. It is moderately blunting to work with tools and bends well. It may be nailed or screwed with ease, but gluing may produce rather variable results. The wood may be stained easily and produces a high-quality finish.

Australian blackwood seasons easily with some possible cupping when boards are inadequately restrained. The timber produces very little movement once seasoned.

The timber may be attacked by furniture beetles, termites and powder-post beetles (sapwood). It is resistant to effective preservative treatments.

Ecology and habitat

It tolerates drought, poor drainage, any soil, salt air, gusty, steady or cold winds if grown in open, fog, smog, temperature extremes, sun, or shade. Occurs in agricultural areas, coastland, disturbed areas, estuaries, natural forest, planted forests, range/grasslands, riparian zones, scrub/shrublands, urban areas, wetlands.

This fast growing perennial tree is a successional species. It lives for 15 – 50 years, regularly producing large numbers of well-dispersed seeds. Seed viability is sufficiently long to bridge the time between successive seedling stages.

In South-east Queensland it is an important host plant for a number of indigenous butterfly larvae, including tailed emperor (Polyura sempronius); silky hairstreak (Pseudalmenus chlorinda); imperial hairstreak (Jalmenus evagoras evagoras); stencilled hairstreak (Jalmenus ictinus) and large grass-yellow (Eurema hecabe hecabe).

Invasive species

It has been introduced to many countries for forestry plantings and as an ornamental tree. It now is present in Africa, Asia, Europe, Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, South America and the United States. It is a declared noxious weed species in South Africa and is a pest in Portugal's Azore Islands. It was also recently listed by the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) as an invasive weed that may cause limited impact (Knapp 2003). Its use as a street tree is being phased out in some locales because of the damage it often causes to pavements and underground plumbing.


Indigenous Australians derive an analgesic from the tree.[3]

The wood is very good for many uses including furniture, tools, boats, and wooden kegs. It is of about the same quality as walnut and it is well-suited for shaping with steam. The bark has a tannin content of about 20%.[4] It may also be used for producing decorative veneers.

The tree's twigs and its bark are used to poison fish as a way of fishing.[5] This tree can also be used as a fire barrier plant, amongst other plants, in rural situations

Plain and figured Australian blackwood is used in musical instrument making (in particular guitars, drums, Hawaiian ukuleles, violin bows and organ pipes), and in recent years has become increasingly valued as a substitute for koa wood.



  1. ILDIS LegumeWeb
  2. Porter, Terry (2006). Wood: Identification and Use. East Sussex, GB: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd. p. 37. 
  3. Analgesic Plants Australian New Crops Newsletter
  4. Google Books Select Extra-tropical Plants Readily Eligible for Industrial Culture Or Naturalization By Ferdinand von Mueller
  5. A. Melanoxylon

General references

External links

  • Management of Blackwood in Plantations [1]
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