Acacia is a group of over 1,200 trees and shrub species that is native to Australia and Africa but is also grown in some parts of Asia, North America, and the Pacific Island.
The Acacia trees are also known by several other names like the wattle and Asian walnut. The wood of the tree is characterized by open and wide modulating grains with distinctive knots. The wood is resistant to mold, water, and fire.
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History of the Acacia
The acacia tree is believed to be around for over 20 million years as scientists have found fossilized charcoal deposits which seem to have acacia trees preserved in them. The charcoal indicates that the wood of the tree is fire resistant and the trees started propagating in Australia during periods of drought and fires.
The acacia tree is also mentioned in the Book of Exodus where it is implied the wood of the tree was used to construct the Tabernacle and Ark of Covenant since it was considered to be almost impossible to destroy.
Types of Acacia Wood
As mentioned above, there are hundreds of species of acacia. In this article, we will list the most common type of acacia wood, which is currently being used in carpentry and the home improvement industry.
Common Name: Hawaiian koa
Native Area: Hawaii
Tree Size: 65-100 ft tall
Acacia koa is one of the most expensive and most coveted woods in the world. It is one of the hardest domestic varieties of wood with a Janka hardness of 1,790. This is much harder than maple, one of the hardest varieties, which stands at 1,450.
Acacia koa has a coarse, broad-grained pattern with that looks wavy or turns at 90 degrees. It has a beautiful color which is similar to mahogany and features reddish brown, amber and medium gold tones. Most koa wood is mixed with a combination of these colors in an undulating ribbon formation.
The interlocked, curly pattern of the grain can be difficult to cut without damaging the wood, but when finished, command a high prize by specialty woodcrafters. Although you may have to give special order to get hardwood flooring for koa, you can find plenty of stunning furniture made from this wood. The wood stain and finishes well
In Hawaii, the locals make houses, canoes, and oars from the koa tree. Other common uses of the wood include crafting of musical instruments like guitars and specialty carvings and bowls.
Common Name: Australian Blackwood, acacia Blackwood, Tasmanian Blackwood
Native Area: South Eastern Australia and Tasmania
Tree Size: 65-100 ft tall
The Australian Blackwood is considered to be a less-expensive alternative to the Hawaiian koa. Unlike what its name indicates, it is not a dark colored wood.
The color of Acacia melanoxylon varies a lot and can range from medium gold to a reddish brown tone, that is similar to the koa. The growth rings are marked by contrasting rings of colors and boards made from the wood have ribbon-like streaks of color.
The Australian Blackwood ranks at 1,160 on the Janka scale and has wavy or straight grain that has few interlocking patterns.
Although the wood can resist decay, it is vulnerable to insect attack and is not appropriate for outdoor use without a sealant. The wood turns, stains, finishes and glues well and is popularly used to make furniture, veneers, cabinets, gun stocks, and specialty wooden objects.
Common Name: Raspberry jam, jam wattle
Native Area: Western Australia
Tree Size: 10-23 ft tall
Acacia Acuminata is known as raspberry jam because the strong fragrance of its freshly cut wood resembles raspberry jam.
The heartwood of acacia acuminate is a beautiful reddish-brown in color while its sapwood is a lighter yellow. Raspberry jam acacia has a Janka hardness of 3,100 which makes it a very hard wood. The grain is fine and uniform all over.
This wood is commonly used to create fence posts, shelterbelts, shades, turned objects, and specialty wooden objects.
Common Name: Earpod wattle, auri, earleaf acacia, northern black wattle
Native Area: Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia
Tree Size: 95 ft
Acacia Auriculiformis is also called earpod wattles because of the ear-shaped pods that grow on it. The tree is of medium size and medium strength.
The heartwood of earpod wattle is light brown to dark red in color and features a relatively durable and straight and fine grain with an attractive figure. The wood finishes well and is commonly used in the making of toys, coins, carom, chess pieces, and handicrafts. It is also used to make some types of furniture, tools handles, and joinery and may also be used in construction work if thick trees are available.
Most of all, though, earpod wattle is used to make paper pulp.
Common Name: hickory wattle, mangium, forest mangrove, black wattle
Native Area: Northeastern Queensland, Papua, Western Province of Papau, Eastern Maluku Islands
Tree Size: 65 to 98 ft
Acacia Mangium has a heartwood featuring a shimmery brownish-yellow color and is of medium texture with a close-grain pattern. It has a Janka hardness of 1,110 lbf that makes it suitable for a wide range of home improvement projects.
Since the wood is very hard, heavy and strong and resistant to warping and cracking, it can be dried to make flooring, doors, windows and furniture. After polishing, the timber becomes super smooth and glossy which is why it is exported to make parquet flooring tiles and other specialty works.
Common Name: Bailey’s acacia, Cootamundra wattle
Native Area: Southern New South Wales in Australia, naturalized in Victoria
Tree Size: 20 to 30 ft tall
Bailey’s acacia or the Cootamundra is a small tree which is prized for ornamental purposes in several parts of Australia.
This small tree has many uses and is often used to revitalize areas such as road verge and mines. Australian aborigines used the wood to build shields, spears and other weapons.
Common Name: Stinking wattle, purple gidgee
Native Area: Australia
Tree Size: 20 to 40 ft tall
Acacia Cambagei has a heartwood which ranges in color from a medium to a rich dark reddish brown color with deep chocolate brown streaks. The sapwood is considerably lighter with a distinct yellow color.
With a Janka hardness of 4,270 lbf, the timber is extremely hard and heavy and close-grained. It also frequently features an interlocking pattern and sometimes a curly figuring known as “ringed gidgee.” The wood is resistant to termites and other insects and is popularly used to make fence posts. It also is an excellent source of fuel and charcoal as it burns with an intense heart and produces high ash content.
Common Name: Waddywood, waddi
Native Area: Central Australia
Tree Size: 49 to 59 ft tall
Acacia peuce has heartwood of deep purplish-brown with dark, almost black streaks. It is sharply demarked form its sapwood which features a light yellow color. The grain of Acacia peuce is quite uniform and straight and the wood boasts a medium texture.
Since it has a Janka hardness of 4,630 lbf, the wood is extremely hard and difficult to cut with hand or machine tools. However, the final product is finished well and is extremely durable.
Acacia peuce is used to make fence posts, turned objects, carving and other small decorative items. Aboriginal Australians use its wood to make clubs called waddi.
Common Name: Silver wattle, blue wattle, mimosa
Native Area: New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory
Tree Size: Up to 100 ft tall
Acacia dealbata is one of the larger species of acacia trees and has won an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
The wood of the tree has a distinctive and beautiful light golden-brown honey color to a pinkish tint, which features an even, porous texture and straight grain. The sawn timber often features a striking striped pattern, thanks to its distinctive growth rings. It often shows distinctive figures like tiger stripes and birdseye.
The wood is of medium density and can be worked easily by hand or machine. It can be sawed, bored and cut into plane boards without damaging the wood. It is recommended that you pre-drill the wood before nailing.
Silver wattle is one of the most preferred woods by furniture designers and interior decorators, since it is used as an alternative to the Blackwood. The wood bends easily and glues and finishes well. When polished, it displays a lustrous and smooth surface.
The wood is a good choice for interior applications, including decorations, furniture and even architectural and structural work.
Common Name: Umbrella thorn acacia
Native Area: Savannah and sahel of Africa, including Sudan and Somalia
Tree Size: Up to 69 ft tall
Also known as Vachellia tortilis, the tree form a canopy that is shaped like an umbrella. It is one of the few timber species of the Arabian Desert and is believed to be the one which was used to create the Biblical Ark of the Covenant.
The wood of the tree is also used for making indoor furniture, fences, wagonwheels, cages, pens, firewood and charcoal.
Advantages of Using Acacia Wood
Acacia wood comes with several benefits:
- Versatile color: The large variety of species means you can enjoy a range of gorgeous color from light honey gold tones to rich mahogany browns.
- Stunning Patterns: Although some people prefer a smooth and plain surface for their floors, there are many who love the patterns and knots that come with acacia wood. These can form beautiful distinctive figures like tiger stripes and birds eyes lending character to your house.
- Options: Acacia flooring is available in solid, laminate or engineered planks widths with more details like hand-carved or hand-scraped finishes.
- Durability: Since acacia wood is harder than oak and maple, it means the floor can last for 50 to 100 years, depending on how thick the wood is. It can also be polished and refinished several times without losing its original luster.
- Water, mold, and insect-resistant: Most species of acacia are water and mold-resistant and many hardwood varieties are resistant to termites and other insects.
- Sustainability: Since acacia grows very quickly (indeed, some variety are considered invasive species) this is a very sustainable and eco-friendly option for home improvement. Its production also produces fewer emissions than other woods.
Applications of Acacia Wood
Because of the large variety of colors, grains, texture, density and plank width of the wood, you can find Acacia flooring and furniture in the style that you prefer.
To give some character and a touch of rustic and eclectic to your home, choose a wood with contrasting light and dark colors in the grain as well as knots and patterns.
Since the color of the wood is quite warm, it is guaranteed to cheer up and give a welcoming air to any of your room, if you use the timber for flooring. The beautiful warm amber to dark mahogany colors also compliments other warm and earthy colors like red, browns, maroon, beige and even some greens. Furniture and textile in white, black and grey tones also bring out the beautiful golds and reds in the wood.
The great thing about the wood is that it instantly grabs attention without being too overwhelming.
To make your home even more beautiful, you can use acacia wood to make a staircase, featuring a gorgeous geometry of colors and patterns. If you are not able to afford an entire staircase made of acacia wood, consider adding a simple banister to set off the design.
When it is time to renovate your home, acacia should be your preferred wood. Although it is a very coveted wood, it is so versatile and comes in so many colors and patterns that it keeps your home looking unique.