Quinine bush

    (Petalostigma pubescens)


Also known as: Native Quince, Bitter Bark, Strychnine Tree

Quinine is abundant across the Central Highlands, usually found as a small tree to 3 or 4 metres like the one pictured at left. It is said to grow to 10 metres tall but the tree pictured below is the 'big daddy' of all that I've seen at about 6m high and about 400mm diameter. The trees are usually piped which makes it difficult to find a large pieces for turning.
The aboriginals used the fruit and the branches of the tree medicinally which doesn't surprise me as the timber has a distinct 'chemical' smell to it when machined - gotta be something useful in it.
A 'mate' of mine talked me into tasting one of the fruits once - quite an experience but I'll never do it again - who needs mates like that eh!
Although the timbers hardness rating is no higher than many other Central Highland timbers, I still think it's the hardest, or at least the most abrasive timber I have turned. I very nearly gave up trying to hollow the bowl pictured as it destroyed the edge of every tool I put near it in seconds. Eventually, I resorted to a tungsten-carbide metal lathe cutting tip out of curiosity and found to my surprise that it did a fine job. CA (superglue) stains the pale colored sapwood so care should be taken with patching/filling. Quinine timber sands OK considering how hard it is on tools and it takes a high polish easily.


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