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BLACK BEAN (Castanospermum australe)

Trade Name

Black bean

Scientific Name

Castanospermum australe A. Cunn. & C. Fraser



Common Names

Moreton Bay chestnut; Bean tree; Moreton bay chesnut (United States of America); Black bean (United Kingdom); Black bean (United States of America); Moreton bay chesnut (United Kingdom)

Description Of The Tree

Botanical Description

It is a medium-sized to fairly large tree up to 40 m tall. The bole is free of branches for up to 20 m, up to 135 cm in diameter. The buttresses are absent.

Natural Habitat

Castanospermum australe is reported in primary coastal rain forests and along beaches. It thrives on wet soils of moderate fertility.

Natural Distribution

It ranges from northern New South Wales to the Cook town-Atherton area of Queensland.

Plantations Available?

Plantations are reported in Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea.

Non Timber Uses

Logs of this species are reported to present brittle heart. Black bean is reported to be not suitable for pulping, cement or particle board making.

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Wood Identification

Anatomic Description Of Wood

Tangential diameter of vessel lumina 200 micras or more (large). Colored deposits in heartwood vessels. Vestured pits. Vessels per mm2 less than 6 (rare). Simple perforation plates. Intervessel pits small, 7 micras or less. Axial parenchyma lozenge-aliform. Axial parenchyma confluent. 3 to 4 cells per parenchyma strand. 4 to 10 rays per mm (medium). Rays and/or axial elements irregularly storied. Prismatic crystals in radial alignment in procumbent ray cells (chambered cells). Body ray cells procumbent with mostly 2 to 4 rows of upright and/or square marginal cells (Kribs-I Fibers with simple to minutely bordered pits.

  • Wood Macro Photo Tangential Plane
  • Wood Micro Photo Of Transversal Section


Cites Status


General Wood Description


The sapwood ranges from white to yellowish. The heartwood is dark brown, darkening to almost back with age.

COLOR INDEX (1=Black, 7=Light yellow,white)



The grain is usually straight, occasionally interlocked.


A coarse texture is reported in this species.

Natural Durability

It is resistant to termite attack.

Natural durability index (1= Very high durability, 7=Vey low durability)


Resistance To Impregnation

The sapwood is moderately permeable to preservatives, but the heartwood is untreatable.

Wood Physical Properties

Basic Density or Specific Gravity (O.D. weight/vol. green) (g/cm³)


Air-dry Density (Weight and volume at 12%MC) (g/cm³)


Total shrinkage Tangential (Saturated to 0%MC) (%)


Total shrinkage Radial (Saturated to 0%MC) (%)


Drying Defects

Ease of Drying: Air seasoning is reported to be good but slow. Material thicker than one inch requires slow drying. Drying Defects: Honeycombing is reported in thick stock. It has a tendency to warp and check.

Recommended Dry Kiln Schedule

UK-C; US-T3-C2

Dimensional stability ratio (Total Tangential Shrinkage %/Total Radial Shrinkage %)


Wood Chemical Properties

Wood Mechanical Properties

Bending Strength (MOR),12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Stiffness (MOE) 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Compression parallel to fiber 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Compression perpendicular to fiber 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Shear strength radial 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Janka hardness (side) 12%MC (kgf)


Janka hardness (end grain) 12%MC (kgf)



Rotary Veneer Cutting

Tests on the suitability for the production of veneer showed moderate results.

Sliced Veneer

Tests on the suitability for the production of veneer showed moderate results.

Blunting Effect

Wood of this species produces a moderate blunting effect.


The working properties are generally satisfactory but may be affected by alternating soft and hard patches.




This species is reported to have a good nailing behavior.


It is easy to glue, but occasionally gluing is problematic because of the slightly greasy nature of the wood.


Wood of this species is easy to stain.


It is easy to polish.

Steam Bending

This species is reported to have a moderate response to steam bending.


End Uses Summary

HOUSING GENERAL, FURNITURE AND CABINETS, luxury furniture, cabinets, PLYWOOD AND VENEER, Decorative veneer, TURNING, SPORTS, CONTAINERS, truck bodies, truck flooring, NAVAL CONSTRUCTION, OTHER AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, handicrafts, moldings

General Housing
  • 10 - Silica in Timbers
Furniture Cabinets
  • 21 - Tropical timbers of the world. Part III-Southeast Asian and Oceanian Species.
Furniture, Luxury
  • 22 - Dry kiln schedules for commercial woods. Temperate and tropical. Section IV-Asian and Oceanian Woods
  • 24 - Empire Timbers
Panels, Veneers
  • 25 - Directory of Timber Trade Malaysia
Decorative veneer
  • 28 - Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest of Fiji
  • 30 - Embassy of Honduras in Japan
  • 38 - Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation 1998-ITTO
Truck Body
  • 53 - Timbers of the New World
Truck Flooring
  • 54 - Bulletin of the Government Forest Experiment Station N.157: Identification of Tropical Woods
  • 55 - Tropical Timber Atlas of Latin America
Other & Musical Instruments
  • 63 - Madeiras do Brazil II
  • 66 - Maderas latinoamericanas. VII. Caracteristicas anatomicas. propiedades fisicomecanicas, de secado, y tratabilidad de la madera juvenil de Cordia alliodora (Ruiz & Pav. Oken.)
  • 79 - Padronização da Nomenclatura Comercial Brasileira das Madeiras Tropicais Amazônicas, Sugestão

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