Xanthorrhoea - I Can’t believe its not fatwood !

Aussie123

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Fatwood is something which features heavily in all Northern hemisphere bushcraft blogs and books. In Australia we have (many plantation pines and) several species of native pines, and these do have resin and fatwood in them, however they are not very wide spread and it would be great to have an alternative source.

An idea occurred to me a while back and finally I got the chance to test it out.

Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) are rich in resin, burn well, and are fairly abundant in many parts of the country. Could these be the Australian fatwood, (our own beer-gutted fire lighter of choice ??)

(see http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showthread.php?111-Xanthorrhoea&p=403#post403 )

Grass Trees contain a resin which resembles pine resin in many of its properties. It was extensively used by Aboriginal people as an adhesive, just like pine and birch was used in the Northern hemisphere.
20150906_124134 (Small).jpg

While on my walk I encountered a stand of grass trees, some dead, so excitedly I collected a few quills to test out.
20150906_121956 (Small).jpg

You can see the shiny resin coating the quills:
20150906_131554 (Small).jpg

I carefully shaved them to curls and fine splinters.
I hit them repeatedly with the firesteel, but no fire !
20150906_132604 (Small).jpg

I teased some apart to reveal fibrous strands inside. These “should” be good I thought .... but no ! No fire.
20150906_132729 (Small).jpg

These quills do burn really well, if you light them with a flame, but I wasn’t able to light them with a firesteel.

One think I did note is that true fatwood is "soaked" through with resin. These quills appear to only be coated in resin. None the less I had hoped they would take a spark easily.

I’ll certainly give it ago again, because results and conditions do vary; but if anyone has had success I’d love to hear from you ?

Thanks
 
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sami12

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Great timing i was thinking of doing the same. I found that they burn nice and long albeit a tad sooty ehen kept in a bunch. Takes a flame easily also
 

Lepmeister

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Great post and something that I had not thought of doing... As I was reading your post I was sure they would be fire at the end :-(

I wounder if scrapping the resin coating off and into a pile if that would light?
 

Aussie Forager CQ

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Great idea mate, maybe they would be ok if they were feathered and then used to take flame and help out a fire in wet conditions....keen to hear how you go.
 

Bloffy13

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Fallen, dry Sheoak needles easily take a spark. I don't know if the bark has any resin in it. Might be worth a try.
Also, would paperbark be the birch bark of the Southern Hemisphere, if prepared the same way?
Cheers
Bloffy
 

Aussie123

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Great timing i was thinking of doing the same. I found that they burn nice and long albeit a tad sooty ehen kept in a bunch. Takes a flame easily also
Great minds think alike !
Please have a go anyway. It would be great to see if your results are the same or different ?


Great post and something that I had not thought of doing... As I was reading your post I was sure they would be fire at the end :-(

I wounder if scrapping the resin coating off and into a pile if that would light?
I didn't have any luck with the resin either.... I really thought it would work too !
But as I say, others may have better results with a slightly different species ?


Great idea mate, maybe they would be ok if they were feathered and then used to take flame and help out a fire in wet conditions....keen to hear how you go.
The feathers / shavings will light well, and the resin coat would keep them dry.


Fallen, dry Sheoak needles easily take a spark. I don't know if the bark has any resin in it. Might be worth a try.
Also, would paperbark be the birch bark of the Southern Hemisphere, if prepared the same way?
Cheers
Bloffy
I've used the needles too, but haven't tried the bark ... I don't think there is resin in it, but I'll check next time I get a chance.

Paperbark is great if you scrape it into fine shavings ... just like birch. Problem is that paper bark is available in most places I like to go, but where it does occur it is good.
(Waterproof too).
 

Foxtrot65

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The needles (the dead ones under the current living ones) are my "go to" tinder for a fire but not using a ferro rod, just a lighter, really flamible, dead pine needles are also great, must practice more without the lighter!
 

Thrud

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I think I've posted on this before, the resin doesn't really do much, but you can make high explosive from it. That probably wouldn't start a fire though....
 

MongooseDownUnder

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It just so happens I have a few nice pieces of resin the size of a fist from some grass trees. Now where did I put my nitric acid. Mwahahaha


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Howling Dingo

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Going a bit off topic but this is a video I did on using Xanthorrhoea resin as a wood finish ...


[video=youtube;fmFHX-BDDdo]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmFHX-BDDdo[/video]
 
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julius

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the fatwood in the roots of the trees typically comes from cold climates where the resin helps the tree survive in the winter (also though there is some tropical tree producing such wood they are all conifers or other deciduous trees )

generally in australia the natives never had such an issue to light a fire. most plats are quite dry and burn well here.but in wet tropical parts of asia they will scar a tree and collect they resin and mix with burnt plant material , forming it into a sticky flammable brick. it is used like a hexomine table would normally be used.
 

Aussie123

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the fatwood in the roots of the trees typically comes from cold climates where the resin helps the tree survive in the winter (also though there is some tropical tree producing such wood they are all conifers or other deciduous trees )

generally in australia the natives never had such an issue to light a fire. most plats are quite dry and burn well here.but in wet tropical parts of asia they will scar a tree and collect they resin and mix with burnt plant material , forming it into a sticky flammable brick. it is used like a hexomine table would normally be used.
Do you know the names of any of the plants used in the tropics ?
Thanks
 

sokorny

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In WA I know the Marri (Corymbia calophylla) produces lots of resin ... hence for it's common name, Red Gum. I have read that the resin has many medicinal properties, has anyone experimented with their stumps for fatwood? The resin is quite different to that of pines (but I have been to log landings and Marri logs can "weep" similar to pine logs after being harvested).

I might have to experiment ...
 

Aussie123

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In WA I know the Marri (Corymbia calophylla) produces lots of resin ... hence for it's common name, Red Gum. I have read that the resin has many medicinal properties, has anyone experimented with their stumps for fatwood? The resin is quite different to that of pines (but I have been to log landings and Marri logs can "weep" similar to pine logs after being harvested).

I might have to experiment ...
I haven't heard about Marri - it would be well worth a try
 

Cam

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I believe I was told by Bob Cooper that Bloodwood gum (and I speculate that Marri would qualify) had disinfectant qualities and could be used topically on a wound or mixed into water to assist in stomach complaints.

I haven't tried it. I haven't had it corroborated. My memory may be faulty. Use this dodgy info at your own risk :).

Edit - well, whatta ya know - the wikipedia page backs that dodgy info up!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corymbia_calophylla
 
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koalaboi

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generally in australia the natives .
I'd like to think that the racism in that comment was unintentional but honestly, "the natives" ? Talk to Aboriginal people now and they would find, as do I, that reference as something that belongs back in the past and, truely, that's about as nice as I can put it.

KB
 
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