Desert Fig

    (Ficus brachypoda)

 

Also known as: Small-leaved Rock Fig

Desert fig is found right across northern Australia and while it's not common on the Central Highlands, there are still a few to be found. Growing on any host tree or rock outcrop with enough moisture to germinate a seed, it looks too lush to be part of the normal landscape around here. 
The fruit is said to be very tasty but I haven't tried it yet (not into figs!). I have seen one tree near Peak Range that had a diameter of roughly 400mm through the main trunk which would provide reasonable turning blanks. 
When first cut, the cambium layer oozes latex like there's no end to it. If you're going to put it on the lathe, get rid of the outer layers first or wear a raincoat - not nice stuff. The timber shrinks quite a bit while drying but in a relatively uniform way with little or no cracking at all. Unfortunately, the very white colour you see when it's first cut doesn't hold.
The timber is light and machines very easily. It sands very well and soaks up a lot of finish but has some interesting markings in the grain that make it worthwhile - just hoping it doesn't go mouldy during the wet season now as some of these timbers are inclined to do.

 

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