Silky oak has been grown widely throughout Australia as an ornamental tree for almost 100 years.
Observations of ornamental plantings indicate that silky oak is drought tolerant, grows on a wide range of soil types, has a tough bark (making it suitable as a shade tree in paddocks of grazing animals), produces flowers and gum that support native wildlife and can grow large enough for milling within a reasonable time. However, in some states, it is considered a minor environmental weed.
Due to its limited availability from native forests silky oak has been of minor timber commercial value but it has recently gained recognition as a potential planting species.
Silky oak has had a good reputation for quality furniture in the past, and continues to be sought for specialised woodworking, cabinetry and furniture, suggesting a market might exist for the timber in the future.
Commercial farm trees have the potential to offer a range of benefits to farmers and land managers by increasing Australia’s long-term timber supply while contributing social, economic and environmental benefits to regional areas.
Trees are often planted to provide windbreaks and shelterbelts for crops and livestock, to manage the watertable or to protect topsoil from erosion. However many landholders, using existing infrastructure and integrating tree management practices into existing farm operations, may be able to earn an alternative income from planting farm trees that earn a commercial return. The risk inherent in all commercial tree operations is the long period between establishment and harvest which can range from 30 to 50 years with no financial returns in the interim.
Facts and figures
- The silky oak is the largest species of the Grevillea genus and is a fast-growing large upright tree
- It grows 20–30m high and the trunk can develop a diameter up to one metre
- Growth rates of silky oak are reasonable suggesting sawlogs could be grown in about 30 years on most sites
- The timber is sought after for specialised woodworking, cabinetry and furniture
- Silky oak is considered a minor environmental weed in some states
Silky oak is a minor commercial industry in Australia. There are a number of small plantations set up as trials and some genetic provenance trials in south east Queensland.