Teak (Tectona, Hindi: सागौन), is a genus of tropical hardwood trees in the family Verbenaceae, native to the south and southeast of Asia, and is commonly found as a component of monsoon forest vegetation. They are large trees, growing to 30-40 m tall, deciduous in the dry season.
The name teak comes from the Malayalam word Thekku. There are three species of Tectona:
- Tectona grandis (Common Teak) is by far the most important, with a wide distribution in India and Indo-China.
- Tectona hamiltoniana (Dahat Teak) is a local endemic species confined to Burma, where it is endangered.
- Tectona philippinensis (Philippine Teak) is endemic to the Philippines, and is also endangered.
Cultivation and uses
The timber is used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture, boat decks, and other articles where weather resistance is desired. It is also used for indoor flooring and as a veneer for indoor furnishings.
Teak is easily worked and has natural oils that make it suitable for use in exposed locations, where it is durable even when not treated with oil or varnish. Teak cut from old trees grown slowly in natural forests is more durable and harder; teak from young trees grown in plantations is more prone to splitting and water damage, however kiln drying allows for sustainable, plantation-grown teak to perform nearly on par with old-growth teak.
Teak is used extensively in India to make doors and window frames, furniture and columns and beams in old type houses. It is very resistant to termite attacks. Mature teak fetches a very good price. It is grown extensively by forest departments of different states in forest areas.
Teak consumption encompasses a different set of environmental concerns, such as the disappearance of rare old-growth teak. However, its popularity has led to growth in sustainable production throughout the seasonally dry tropics in forestry plantations. The Forest Stewardship Council offers certification of sustainably grown and harvested teak products. Experiments are ongoing to achieve vegetative propagation from one year old stem cuttings.
Popular in the 1950s and 1960s in a style often known as Danish modern, teak furniture has had a second boom in popularity. Teak is one of the most sought-after types of vintage furniture.
Leaves of teak wood tree are used in making Pellakai gatti (Jackfruit dumpling) ,where batter is poured in a teak leaf and is steamed.This type of usage is found in coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in state of Karnataka in India. Teak is used as a food plant by the larvae of moths of the genus Endoclita including E. aroura, E. chalybeatus, E. damor, E. gmelina, E. malabaricus, E. sericeus and E. signifer and other Lepidoptera including Turnip Moth.
Hyblaea puera, an insect native to southeast Asia, is a teak pest whose caterpillar feeds on teak and other species of trees common in the region. Much of the world's teak is exported by Indonesia and Myanmar.
About Teak Wood
The Teak Tree, or Tectona, is one of the tropical hardwood birches, included in the family Verbenaceae. This tree is originally from the plantations of South East Asia, and can grow to a height of 30 - 40 m. As part of its life cycle, this tree sheds its leaves every year at dry season. Its longevity is very great, the Teak tree often living to an age of 100 years. Teak is especially noted for its capacity to withstand changes in the weather and season. One of the reasons for this is the ability of the Teak to bend, but not break, in the face of high winds.
Also, the Teak tree resin typically has an oil in its Galih (Cambium/heartwood) that is highly water resistant. This content alone can protect the Teak from decay, insects, and bacteria. At the same time, the combination of unique Teak tree content and thick fibers make it easier to cut and then later sculpt into pleasing forms. Because of this special characteristic, not found in other trees, there has always been interest in using Teak wood for various types of furniture. The teak trees found in South-East Asia forests reach a height of up to 150 feet, have reddish-green leaves with rough skin, and heartwood that is brown to dark gold in color. Of the main teak producers in the area, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Philippine, and Malaysia, Indonesia's teak is considered of the highest quality in the world.
Cultivation and conservation of the Teak tree in Indonesia is managed by the government of Indonesia, Perum Perhutani (Forestation Company of Government). The largest producer of teak in Indonesia is Java. Its geography and weather are highly suitable to Teak tree plantations; Java Island is also a manufacturing center where many furniture workers are employed to process the wood of the Teak tree into unique and beautiful furniture. To get teak wood of the highest quality, there are some things that must be carefully attended to in the retrieval process. The older Teak trees, of up to 40 years in age, are the best ones to be cut. In fact, the older the Teak tree, the better will be the quality of its wood. Before cutting the Teak tree, the water content must be drained from the tree by making a cut at its under side. This draining process takes time, 1 to 2 years, in order to get the Teak tree dry enough that it can be cut into Teak wood, and so ready for its main use as the material for furniture and other products.
In India, Teak wood, because of its durability, is used - in addition to its use in furniture and other products - in the production of door and window frames. In Denmark, noted the world over for the stylishness and practicality of its furniture products - with teak, once again, as the main material - because of the increasing demand, and decreasing supply, the price of their furniture products has greatly increased - while in Indonesia, Teak wood is exported abroad and also used as the main material for furniture.
Teak Aesthetics And Characteristics
The most salient characteristic of Teak is its resistance to all kinds of weather. Because of this, it is also resistant to decay and easily repels insects. This is one of the reasons that, unlike other woods, it is often used as the main material for both indoor and outdoor furniture. Teak wood holds its form over many years, even if left outside, and because of this it has often been used for the decking of ships - with its special aroma, cruise ships in particular.
Other characteristics of teak are its elasticity and solid fiber, both of which facilitate woodworking and the ability of woodworkers to create products, such as our own at GiantChess.com, that are both beautiful and durable.
Another reason for the beauty of teak wood products is the special oil content in its heartwood, which makes this wood always seen to gleam - maintaining this glow even if it is left outside for a long period of time. Additionally, Teak wood with its antibacterial characteristics will not become brittle. The owner of teakwood furniture, therefore, will not even find it necessarily to add a preservative to keep it looking like new. Even so, it can occasionally benefit from some polishing, or the application of some varnish, to enhance its natural beauty.
Teak Wood In The World View
Indonesia, as the biggest teak supplier in the world, is very committed to preserving the Teak tree through both practical and visionary government programs. It is only through Perum Perhutani (Forestation Company of Government) that Indonesia can supply Teak wood for export. Not only this, but because of the skill of our woodworkers and artisans, Indonesia produces some of the most unique and interesting furniture products to be found anywhere in the world.
Furniture hunters the world over immediately recognize the characteristics of teak, and always stop to look at Indonesian teak products, so reflective of our history and culture. The demand for this Teak wood has increased so much that the Indonesian government has been forced to implement a plantation program entailing the cultivation, use, and protection of our Teak trees.
This is because the teak is a perennial plant, and of great importance to the economy of Indonesia. Construction material and furniture that comes from Indonesian teak wood each have their own increasing market, as well as increasing value. Generally, Teak trees are harvested only after they have reached ten years; although new technology has yielded certain Teak types called 'Jati Genjah' (Fast Growing) that are also of excellent quality.This will help Indonesia to continue to be the preeminent supplier of teak in the world.
The strength and beauty of its fiber is the primary reason that Teak wood continues to be a main choice for furniture material. The desire for Teak products is increasing, both in our country and also abroad, but the supply is not keeping up because the growth cycle of the conventional Teak tree is long. In fact, as the supply diminishes the desirability for Teak products that have already been produced, often considered as collectibles, and Teak products that are still being produced, as by companies such as ours at GiantChess, com, continues to grow.
Giantchess.com applies formally to Perum Perhutani for its teak material, which is from the teaks that are planted for "wooding up" in the plantations. Perum Perhutani sees that a cultivation of seeding is done every year to replace the big Teak trees which have been chosen to be cut.
On this page we have presented some pictures of: Teak cultivation, Teak forest, the "scratch" of a Teak tree, and others.
Gallery of Tectona grandis (Common Teak)
Fruit in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.