Plantation Pines

Pinus radiata

Common Uses

Factory construction
Figured veneer
Form work
Heavy construction
Light construction
Packing cases
Pulp/Paper products
Rough construction
Boxes and crates
Building construction
Building materials
Cabin construction
Decorative veneer

Numerical Values

Category Green Dry Unit
Bending Strength
Crushing Strength (Perp.)
Max. Crushing Strength
Impact Strength
Work to Maximum Load
Shearing Strength
Specific Gravity
Density (Air-dry)
Radial Shrinkage (G->OD)
Tangential Shrink. (G->OD)
Volumetric Shrink. (G->OD)
3 %
7 %
11 %
1000 psi

Species Distribution

New Zealand
South Africa
United States

Physical and Environmental Profile

Environmental Profile

Native to southern California, Radiata pine is reported to be a threatened species within its natural habitat. Its population on the Guadeloupe Island is reported to be especially vulnerable, but it has been successfully and widely planted in many areas in the southern hemisphere where pines are known to be non-native.

Although the natural range of Radiata pine is reported to be extremely small, (three localities on the coast of central California in the fog belt that extends about 6 miles (9.7 km) inland) its present expansion in the Southern Hemisphere through cultivation is reported to quite substantial. The species is cultivated on a commercial scale in New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and South Africa. It has also been successfully cultivated in Spain, France, Argentina, Greece, and India, and a variety of Radiata pine is also reported to grow in Guadeloupe Island and Mexico. The tree prefers to grow on slopes, in coarse soils, usually sandy loams, and is often found in pure stands or with Monterey cypress, Gowen cypress, and Coast live oak.

Product Sources
The largest Radiata pine resource in the world is believed to be in Chile, where the climate is reported to be quite favorable for the cultivation of Radiata pine. Radiata pine trees grown on plantations in Chile are reported to be often ready to harvest in 16 to 25 years.
The species is also grown for commercial consumption on plantations in several countries, including New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. It is reported to be the most often planted softwood in both temperate and warm climates, with most of the timber on the market originating from plantation grown trees.

Reports from New Zealand indicate that there are currently (March, 1995) no independently certified sources of Radiata pine. Local laws governing the management of New Zealand plantation forests prohibit activities that will adversely affect the environment. Certified wood products are, however, expected to become available in the near future. Most of the exports from New Zealand are reported to be in the form of two-by-four sawn boards for construction and logs to Australia, Asia, and some to the United States.

Tree Data
The tree usually has a straight trunk, and grows to a height of about 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 m), with a diameter of about 12 to 36 inches (30 to 90 cm). The tree is reported to be rather fast growing, and can reach mature size in 20 years. The tree is reported to be popular as an ornamental tree in England, the Mediterranean and in North Africa.

Heartwood Color
The heartwood is generally pink-brown in color.

The material may contain spiral grain, but it is generally straight-grained.

Compared to other pines, there is little contrast in the appearance of the growth rings, which makes the texture relatively even and uniform.

There is no characteristic odor or taste.

Ease of Drying
The material is reported to dry, but conditions should be controlled to prevent excessive degrade.

Drying Defects
The timber of Radiata pine is reported to season easily and rapidly at high temperatures (commercially up to 120 degrees C) with medium shrinkage.

T/R Ratio - 2.33
This indicator is more meaningful if it is used together with other drying information and actual shrinkage data in the tangential and radial directions. (Refer to the Numerical Values window).

Natural Durability
Heartwood is reported to have very little natural resistance to attack by decay fungi and other wood destroying organisms, and is prone to damage by insects.

Resistance to Impregnation
Most of the timber sold on the market are reported to be readily permeable sapwood from young, rapidly grown plantation trees. They are reported to be easily treated by immersion.

Cutting Resistance
The material is reported to saw relatively easily.

Radiata pine is reported to work rather easily and responds to thin and very sharp cutting edges well, with little dulling effect. Area around knots may tear, but most machining operations, including planing, turning, moulding, and boring generally produce a clean finish.

Gluing properties are reported to be satisfactory.

The timbers are reported to possess good nail-holding characteristics.

Screw holding properties are rated as good.

The wood is reported to respond well to staining.

Polishing properties are rated as satisfactory, and Radiata pine is reported to accept a wide variety of paints.

Strength Properties
Strength properties are reported to be rather low in bending and stiffness, and crushing strength and shock resistance are rated as moderate. Most of the commercially available timber of Radiata pine is reported to be composed of fast grown plantation trees. These trees are reported to contain very high percentage of sapwood which makes them very easy to treat with preservatives. Radiata pine is reported to be steadily growing as a replacement for the more expensive Ponderosa pine in the United States. Genetic improvements in Chile have resulted in Radiata pine trees that are relatively free from knots and are also high in physical and mechanical properties.

Reference Sources

Numerical Data Source
Lavers, G.M. 1967. The Strength Properties of Timbers. Ministry of Technology, Forest Products Research, Bulletin No. 50. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.

Descriptive Data Source
Lincoln, W.A. 1986. World Woods in Color. Linden Publishing Co. Inc., Fresno, California.

Mirov, N.T. 1967. The Genus PINUS. The Ronald Press Company, New York. LCC Card No. 67-14783.

MacDonald, J., R.F. Wood, M.V. Edwards and J.R. Aldhous, Editors. 1957. Exotic Forest Trees in Great Britain. Forestry Commission Bulletin No. 30. Paper Prepared for the Seventh British Commonwealth Forestry Conference, Australia and New Zealand. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.

Little, E.L. 1980. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees - Eastern Region. Published by Arthur A. Knopf, New York.

Kaiser, J. 1994. Wood of the Month: Radiata Pine - A Perfect Plantation Timber. Wood and Wood Products, March, 1994. Page 48.

New Zealand Ministry of Forestry. Properties and Uses of New Zealand Radiata Pine, Volume 11 - Wood Properties. Kinmouth, J.A. and L.J. Whitehouse, Editors. Ministry of Forestry, New Zealand.

Burton, R.D. and J.T. Miller. Introduced Forest Trees in New Zealand: Recognition, Role, and Seed Source, 12. Radiata pine (Pinus radiata). New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd., Bulletin 124.

Cown, D.J. 1992. New Zealand Radiata pine and Douglas fir, Suitability for Processing. New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd, Bulletin 168.

Bolza, E. and W. G. Keating. 1972. African Timbers - The Properties, Uses and Characteristics of 700 Species. Division of Building Research. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Melbourne, Australia.

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The Magellan Group, Ltd.
The Bayside Building
20301 Bond Road, Suite 110
Poulsbo, WA 98370

Phone: 360-779-3275
Fax: 360-779-3918