IRONWOOD | Ysterhout | Olea Capensis
The Ironwood (Olea capensis) is a medium tall to very tall tree, growing to between 15 and 35m. Its trunk is long, straight and cylindrical, with a grey, striated bark, sometimes found with corky spots. Trunks are occasionally found with thick, corky rings of ‘crocodile skin’, while older trunks often show a black discolouration due to slime flow from a bark wound. The crown is very large and heavy, is supported by long, steeply rising main branches and dominates the upper canopy. The Ironwood is a principal tree of all dry and moist forests, but is practically absent from scrub-forests.
Tall tree, growing to between 15 – 35m
Wood has a fine, even texture and excellent natural lustre
Superb for making chairs due to its strength. Also suitable for flooring, outdoor furniture, fencing, landscaping and retaining walls.
The heartwood colour ranges from light to dark red or brown, with darker violet to black streaks, giving it an unusual and distinctive appearance. Some pieces may be almost entirely black. The sapwood is yellow to greyish and clearly demarcated from the heartwood. The wood has a fine even texture and excellent natural lustre. The grain can be wild or gnarled because of the small size of the tree and can be straight, spiral or interlocked.
Ironwood can be difficult to work because of its density. It is very hard and heavy, with a high cutting resistance, but it turns, polishes and finishes well. It takes a good natural polish and is very stable with a lustrous, smooth finish. Also suitable for decorative veneers.
Ironwood was commonly used for railway sleepers because of its strength and durability. Superb for making chairs due to its strength. Its variegated grain and colouring lends itself to turnery and items like knife handles. Also suitable for decking and flooring, outdoor furniture, fencing, landscaping and retaining walls.