Common Name(s): Laburnum, Golden Chain
Scientific Name: Laburnum anagyroides
Distribution: Central and Southern Europe
Tree Size: 20-30 ft (6-9 m) tall, 6-12 in (15-30 cm) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 53 lbs/ft3 (850 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .69, .85
Janka Hardness: 2,020 lbf (8,990 N)*
*Estimated hardness based on specific gravity
Modulus of Rupture: No data available
Elastic Modulus: No data available
Crushing Strength: No data available
Shrinkage:No data available
Color/Appearance: Heartwood color ranges from an orangish brown to a darker violet brown, darkening with age. Clearly demarcated sapwood is a pale yellow. Laburnum’s dark color make it suitable for use as an ebony substitute, particularly within its natural range in Europe. Wide rays can exhibit ray fleck on quartersawn surfaces. Endgrain slices of Laburnum are sometimes used in making a decorative “oyster veneer” pattern for use in furniture.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, with a fine, even texture. Good natural luster.
Endgrain: Ring-porous; large earlywood pores 2-3 rows wide, medium to large latewood pores in clusters and diagonal tangential bands, moderately numerous; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; heartwood mineral/gum deposits occasionally present; growth rings distinct; medium to wide rays visible without lens, spacing wide; parenchyma vasicentric and confluent.
Rot Resistance: No official data is available, though it is presumed to be quite durable as it has been used for fenceposts.
Workability: Despite its high density and hardness, Laburnum is generally easy to work. It is known to be an excellent turning wood, and is also favored for carving as well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Laburnum contains the toxin cytisine. Taken in large quantities, cytisine can be fatal; however, in smaller quantities (such as those inhaled during woodworking operations), constitutional effects have been reported, such as nausea, vomiting, and headache. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Because of the tree’s small size, Laburnum is likely to remain available only on a small hobbyist scale. Laburnum is primarily only available within its natural range in Europe.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Turned objects, musical instruments (woodwinds), furniture, veneer, fence posts, archery bows, carving, and small specialty wood objects.
Comments: Laburnum is widely planted as an ornamental tree throughout Europe. It sometimes goes by the name “Golden Chain,” so named for its vertical rows of yellowish gold flowers that bloom in the spring.
Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample and turned photo of this wood species.