Cocaine bush

    (Erythroxylum australe)


Also known (locally) as: Turkey bush

  Typically found as shrubs 2 or 3 metres high, in some areas, usually amongst Inland Rosewood on poor ground, they can grow to about 5 metres high and develop trunks to about 200mm diameter. In NSW all erythroxylum species are declared illegal to own or propagate - yet they are native to some areas and hold none of the properties of their nasty cousin, erythroxylum coca - that's bureaucracy for you!
Larger specimens like this one are invariably piped and riddled with grubs and white-ants BUT, if you find a bit of solid timber amongst it, it is worth the trouble for small articles like boxes, pens, knife handles etc.
The timber is moderately heavy, is very colourful and has a faint, pleasant smell similar to False Sandalwood. It's most surprising characteristic though is it's high oil content - or at least it appears to be an oil like quality. When turning Cocaine bush, the finish that can be achieved straight off the chisel is so glossy that it hardly needs finishing at all - which is a very good thing because the oil also makes it almost impossible to sand normally! Every swipe of the paper clogs the grit instantly which could be fixed by wet-sanding though I'm not a fan of it.
Cocaine bush finishes well on its own (eg: burnishing) or very nicely with wax like this box. I have not tried oils or synthetics on it as I doubt they would work well with the oil content.


Back to Top