Trees and wood

No that’s not a sexy metaphor. I’m talking about actual leafy trees in nature and the wood that we harvest from them.

The other day I made the comment of “totally, bamboo is my second favorite kind of wood” which led to a lot of confused follow up questions. So I’ll give you the low down to avoid any confusion in the future. Maybe you wanna take notes in your “Lynn 101” notebooks.

Let’s get one thing straight here and now. I am not in favour of ripping down all the forests to build crappy wicker furniture or paper bags or whatever. That is NOT what I’m advocating here. I am just saying wood is neat. But it’s the most neat when it is contributing to an ecosystem and being used as a habitat for wildlife. We clear?

I love wood and the trees the wood comes from. Trees are super pretty and more useful than just in the regular old “I like to breathe air, thanks tress!” sort of way.  The products we derive from the trees can also be really beautiful and handy dandy. Some remarkably so. Lately I have been on a wood buying kick – rings, bracelets, necklaces, cutting boards, rolling pin, cheeseboard… and so forth.

Here is the rundown on my favorite trees and types of wood:

Koa – a gorgeous dark wood harvested from the trees in the higher elevations of Hawaii. Koa is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Native Hawaiians used to carve outriggers and surfboards from the Koa. Now the tree is protected and controlled. However, some amazing stuff is still made from Koa including jewellery and furniture. Here is a link to one of my very favorite Koa stores. If you’re feeling generous go ahead and buy me a dresser. Thanks!

The bottom picture is the grand staircase at ‘Iolani place – which was constructed of Koa.

koa tree

koa wood

Iolani Palace grand stairway

Bamboo – okay it’s actually a member of the grass family – but bamboo is still producing some amazing products. Bamboo is a very good in terms of a renewable resource. It is one of the fastest growing plants on earth. A plant can reach something silly like 60 feet in 5 years. A very environmentally sound choice!

I used to have an arsenal of bamboo products – plants, sheets, socks, shirts, scarves, place mats, the whole deal. Bamboo clothing especially is amazing. It’s soft and warm and very similar to cashmere… except it’s more affordable an you can put it in the wash! Plus, it has moisture wicking properties (which is ideal if you are a gross sweaty boy).

Bamboo has a high strength to weight ratio, which makes it great for construction. It is also used for making textiles, furniture, paper, medicine, panda food…. the list goes on and on!

Overall bamboo is noble and useful. What a great plant!

bamboo softly growing

Bamboo flooring

panada food

Eucalyptus – a beautiful soft wood. Eucalyptus also produces plenty of other awesome products: a soothing essential oil, delicious cough drops, disinfectants, honey, musical instruments, and grouchy drunk koalas.

The Eucalyptus is great for beneficial economic impacts on poor populations. The trees use a heck of a lot of water – but if you were smart at planning and planting you could use the Eucalyptus to lower the water table in swampy or diseased places. But watch out because the trees are super flammable and might explode when on fire.  So take from that what you will. The Eucalyptus reaches heights of 10-60 meters. And lastly, please note that the majestically tall Eucalyptus is intolerant to frost – just like me!

Have you ever seen a Rainbow Eucalyptus? Beautiful!

Rainbow Party!

Eucalyptus soap


Sitka Spruce – The largest of the Spruce family – a Sitka can grow to be 100 m tall. This towering hardy tree represents my affiliation with the west coast of North America where the Sitka is Native (this Spruce gets its name from the town in Alaska.). I hold it so dear that I very nearly got a tattoo of it down my forearm. Sitka is also the name of my favourite surf shop in Vancouver.

I still love the Sitka despite the fact that it was in a terrible made for tv movie script I read. I scooped this script after Tom Berenger accidentally left it behind at my work and I gave it a quick read. Really horrible stuff about a kid travelling across the country with his dad and a Sitka titled: The Family Tree. Just fucking awful. But the Sitka Spruce is so good I can forgive it of this small atrocity. Tom Berenger, on the other hand, must have committed some unforgivable sins to go from Platoon and Major League to The Family Tree.

The Sitka might not be as commercially viable as the other tress on my list – but it is still totally gorgeous and can be used to make beams and guitars and stuffs.




Tom Berenger

So there you have it! My favourite trees and wood :)

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2 Responses to Trees and wood

  1. Mary says:

    Very nice. One of my favorite trees is the bristlecone pine, which is thought to be the longest-lived organism on earth. The old ones grow at high attitude in the US, with some on Mt. Washington nearly 5000 years old. (Yes, that’s 5000.) I like bamboo, too, for its versatility, beauty, and renewability (renewableness? renewocity?).

  2. Barb says:

    We had bamboo flooring in Bellevue and have eucalyptus in Santa Cruz. Love the look and feel of both. But the eucalyptus tree, while fragrant and pretty, are a big problem here in CA. They have contributed to declining populations of bats, honeybees and other critters while increasing the garden snail population. Not to mention the oil being toxic to kittehs. And then there’s the fire danger that you mentioned. They’ve contributed significantly to some of the biggest CA wildfires. It’s another cautionary tale of non-native species.

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