Hardwood floors are a not only a stunning addition to any home, they are also durable, easy to maintain and if cared for properly, their aesthetic properties can last a lifetime. But have you ever wondered why different species of hardwoods are often referred to by the same name?
Common vs. Botanical Names Of Hardwoods
Here in Australia, we have a long tradition of allocating common names for many of the hardwood species grown in Queensland. Australian manufacturers will often also refer to a number of common names, and species that share a similar look are also often marketed under the same common name, even though their botanical names are different. ‘Blue’ Gum timber is a prime example, as there is a ‘Blue’ Gum found in at least three states, however, each is of them is actually a different species. So it can be confusing!
In terms of timber flooring, it is generally sold by the common name and not the botanical name, for example, Ironbark, Spotted Gum and Blackbutt. In some instances, the older common names of hardwood timber species have also been changed to newer names – Manna Gum, for example, is now often referred to as Ribbon Gum.
However, thankfully, all species have their own botanical name that generally doesn’t change. Here are the most common species of Queensland hardwood timbers (although some are also found in northern NSW) identified by both their common name/names and their botanical name.
Blackbutt – also known as Coastal Blackbutt, its botanical name is Eucalyptus pilularis. This is a common and dominant tree of the family Myrtaceae, and it’s identified by its rough bark that appears about halfway up its trunk. White flowers occur from September to March, and Blackbutt is also a ‘koala food tree’.
Brush Box – otherwise known as Queensland Box, Box Scrub or Vinegartree, its botanical name is Lophostemon confertus. This is an evergreen tree native to Australia, and although it’s grown in Queensland and northern NSW, it is also commonly used as a ‘street tree’ in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Cherry Mahogany – Often known as Red Bloodwood, it has a botanical name of Corymbia gummifera and is a hardwood native to Australia. Although usually grown as a tree, it can take the form of mallee, which is the growth habit of certain Eucalypt species that grow with multiple stems. Typical trees grow to a height of between 20 and 34 metres.
Flooded Gum – Also known as Rose or Flooded Gum, its botanical name is Eucalyptus grandis. These trees have smooth bark and at maturity commonly reach around 50 metres tall. They are found in wet forests and on the margins of rainforests.
Forest Red Gum – Other names for this tree include Blue Gum, Red Gum and Red Ironbark. Its botanical name is Eucalyptus tereticornis, and its limbs are unusually steeply inclined for a Eucalyptus species. Because its bark is also shed in irregular sheets, its trunk has a smooth surface that is often coloured in patches of blue, grey and white.
Grey Box – With a botanical name of Eucalyptus microcarpa, this tree is also known as a Gum-topped Box or Western Grey Box. Often found in grassy woodlands, it has smooth grey-brown bark on its upper branches, and cream-coloured flowers that appear from late summer to winter.
Grey Gum – Eucalyptus propinqua can grow up to 50 metres in height. Prone to fire, its leaves are eaten by koalas and its sap by yellow-bellied gliders.
Grey Ironbark – Eucalyptus paniculata is a dark-trunked tree with grey bark. When in flower, its nectar is attractive to both birds and bees, and it is therefore used in honey production.
Gympie Messmate – With a botanical name of Eucalyptus cloeziana, this tree has flaky, soft, yellow-brown or light brown bark. Its name honours French chemist Francois Cloez who recommended eucalyptol for the treatment of colds, coughs and flu.
Manna Gum – This tree has a botanical name of Eucalyptus viminalis and it is also known as the New England Oak or Ribbon Gum because its bark that peels away in long ‘ribbons’. A favoured food of koalas, its also a essential dietary staple of tree-dwelling marsupial mammals like sugar and yellow-bellied gliders.
New England Blackbutt – The Eucalyptus andrewsii is an evergreen tree with brown fibrous bark, green to slightly blue foliage, white flowers and cup-shaped fruit. It can grow up to 45 metres tall.
Red Gum – The Eucalyptus tereticornis has several common names including the Flooded Gum, Mountain Gum and Slaty Gum. It has a smooth trunk surface with patches of grey, blue and white, and grows to a height of up to 50 metres.
Red Ironbark – This tree has three botanical names including Eucalyptus crebra, Eucalyptus fibrosa and Eucalyptus sideroxylon. The Eucalyptus crebra is commonly known as the Narrow-leaved Ironbark and is an important source of nectar for the honey industry. Eucalyptus fibrosa, also called the Broad-leaved Ironbark, grows in sclerophyll forests (communities of tall-growing trees like Wattles and Banksias), and is a bird-attracting tree often found in gardens and parks. Eucalyptus sideroxylon is also known as the Mugga Ironbark, and this tree produces red, pink, white or pale yellow flowers.
Red Mahogany – With a botanical name of Eucalyptus pellita, common names include the Red Stringybark, Large-fruited Red Mahogany and the Daintree Stringybark.
Spotted Gum – This tree has the botanical names of Corymbia maculata and Corymbia citridora. The first species has smooth bark with characteristic grey, white or pink patches (spots), and the second, slightly mottled bark that shreds in thin curling flakes.
Stringybark – With two botanical names, Eucalyptus laevopinea (silver-top) and Eucalyptus eugenioides (white), the silver-top species has rough stringy bark that is usually grey or red-brown, and the white species favours dry woodlands or grassy forests.
Sydney Blue Gum – The Eucalyptus saligna can reach a height of 65 metres and is a common plantation timber in Australia.
Tallowwood – With a botanical name of Eucalyptus micorcorys, this species is a tall evergreen tree that has orange, red-brown or brown-grey bark that grows in forests near the coast.
Turpentine – The Syncarpia glomulifera is also commonly known as the Turpentine Tree (because its crushed leaves taste and the smell of turpentine!) and it can reach up to 60 metres in height.
White Mahogony – Botanically known as the Eucalyptus acmenioides, this tree is sometimes referred to as the Yellow Stringybark and it has flowers that are similar to the rainforest species Lilly Pilly.
Keen to update your flooring with some beautiful Queensland hardwood? Contact the experts at Brisbanes Finest Floors today on 0411 220 488.