Sandpaper Fig

    (Ficus opposita)


Also known as: Ranyja

Sandpaper fig is commonly found along the banks of the more permanent creeks throughout the highlands. Sometimes multi-stemmed, it grows to as high as 6 or 7 metres with trunk diameters to about 250mm. The common name comes from the texture of the leaves but tour guides that tell you the aborigines used it as sandpaper are probably stretching it a bit. While it will abrade soft materials OK, it has little effect on the hardwoods that the men used to make their weapons and tools from.
   The leaves may not be any good for sandpaper but the tree is a great food source - the fruits are reported to be very tasty and to be very high in nutrients - I'm just not into figs.
While the timber is very soft to work and suffers from extreme shrinkage while drying, the grain pattern and colour can be very effective in use. Anything I have left in log form has discoloured badly (which may have been due to the bark being left intact)  and has suffered some minor internal collapse, but sawn boards and green turned items survive OK if given enough air. The timber is quite light, sands very easily and needs to be sealed before finishing.


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