The wood commonly known as Red Mallee is known to botanists as Eucalyptus oleosa and Eucalyptus socialis.
Eucalyptus sps. are native to Australia. There are many species of Eucalyptus that are harvested and used for various purposes but Eucalyptus species are also widely distributed across the globe as decorative trees as well as grown on firewood and pulp plantations. There are at least 15 Eucalyptus sps. that are somewhat commonly found in the wood turning world.
The term mallee refers to a species’ general growth form (known as a “habit” in biology). Usually smaller and shorter than trees, mallees grow multiple smaller-diameter stems from a common root system. Because of this, most mallee species are ill suited for lumber, though they do have a propensity for burl growths that can be harvested and used for turning and other small specialty projects.
For the sake of simplicity I will refer to Eucalyptus oleosa and Eucalyptus socialis from here forward simply as Red Mallee.
General and Working Characteristics
Red Mallee, as explained above, is not a timber wood so it has not been characterized as such. I can record my experiences below but I cannot provide technical details.
Pricing and Availability
Red Mallee is almost always sold as a burl cap or as burl pen blanks.
In this blog, I almost always recommend several vendors with whom I have done considerable business and in whom I have great confidence. These vendors are: West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NC Wood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U.
West Penn Hardwoods sells Red Mallee burl in spindle forms of 1.5” square in lengths ranging from 3” to 25” with prices varying according to length from $2.63 to $96.14. This vendor also sells unsawn Red Mallee burl caps for $16 per kilo.
Bell Forest Products also sells Red Mallee burl in spindle forms including pen blanks of ¾” x 5.5” for $6.50 and in a 1.5” x 18” form for $80.00.
WoodTurningz, to my surprise, has the best selection of Red Mallee burl among the vendors I do routine business with. Prices range from $3.00 for a short pen blank to $159.50 for a large 10” x 3” turning blank.
Exotic Woods USA sells a range of spindle lengths ranging in price from $6.00 for a pen blank to $123.00 for a 17” spindle.
Prices for Red Mallee burl will tend to be in the upper range for an imported wood and this is not surprising given the costs of transportation and the relative scarcity of burl wood.
Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers. In your search for Red Mallee, this can be an invaluable resource provided you use multiple search terms to capture all the possible listings. I can’t speak to the quality of any of the listed dealers, but Woodfinder does have the advantage of allowing searches to be performed based on location which might allow an interested buyer to visit a listed wood dealer in person to hand pick pieces at a comfortable price.
A significant problem with using Woodfinder is that many vendors are listed for woods that, upon further investigation, they do not offer. I don’t know if perhaps once they did and they didn’t update their listings or if some vendors use a standardized list of woods that include most everything conceivable with the idea that once you land on their page you will find something you want to buy even if you didn’t know it beforehand. It happens to me all the time!
Royal Poinciana is strictly a hobby wood used to make turned objects, knife and gun grips, and small other specialty objects.
Red Mallee is not listed as being in any way threatened or endangered by the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices nor does it appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.