Robinia, False acacia
The common robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia) originates from eastern North America and was introduced to Europe in the 17th Century where it rapidly spread. To begin with the robinia was assumed to be a kind of acacia and became popularly known as "false acacia". The botanical species of the acacia and robinia are, however, unrelated, although both belong to the family of papilionaceous plants (Fabaceae).
Its name is derived from the French landscape gardener Jean Robin, who planted the first known tree in Europe.
Large forested areas of robinia can be found in Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is often planted along roads and streets ("Elm street") and a variety of decorative hybrids are planted in parks and gardens.
Robinia grow rapidly reaching a height of around 30m, slightly less when planted singly along roads (20m). They can grow to an age of 100 years or more but are usually felled after 35 to 50 years. Their extensive root systems are good for securing gravely ground and their relative resistance to airborne pollution means they are often planted in inner cities.
The robinia belongs to the heartwood trees, i.e. sapwood and heartwood have different colourings. The very narrow sapwood is yellowish-white to light yellow or green-yellow in colour. The heartwood is yellowish-green to greenish-brown or light brown. When steam-treated the wood takes on a brown colouring. The annual growth rings are clearly visible due to the large pores in the springwood. As with the oak, ash and elm sawn wood has a striped or wavy grain patterning. The pores are less visible in the wood as they close as the tree grows older. Planed surfaces have a discernable shine.
Wood from the robinia is one of the heaviest native wood types. It is very hard and tough, and very strong. Shrinkage is negligible and when dried it is very stable. Due to the closed pore structure robinia is not well suited to impregnation. Its very good natural durability means that it is often used outdoors or in contact with water.
The wood of the robinia dries slowly. It has tendency to crack and warp. It can be worked easily with all tools, can be planed, sliced and is well-suited to carving and turning. Surface finishing is straightforward.
Robinia is available as round and sawn timber in small quantities. Larger straight pieces of timber are rare.
Other names: False acacia, pseudo acacia
- Gardening and landscaping: posts, hop-poles, hay racks, signs etc.
- Soil and hydraulic engineering
- Parquet flooring
- Grips and sports equipment