1 minute read

Verbena Family (Verbenaceae)

Tropical Hardwoods In The Verbena Family

Teak (Tectona grandis) is one of the world's most prized species of tropical hardwood. Teak is a large tree of mature, tropical forests of South and Southeast Asia, and can grow as tall as 131 ft (40 m). Teak lumber can vary in color from light to brownish yellow, or a deep chocolate-brown. Lumber made from teak is heavy, strong, durable, resistant to splitting and cracking, and highly resistant to damages associated with immersion in water. Teak wood contains an aromatic, resinous oil that makes the wood feel slightly greasy to the touch, and helps to make it almost invulnerable to termites and highly resistant to wood-rotting fungi. Teak is valued for the manufacture of durable decking and trim on boats, and for making flooring, panelling, and fine furniture.

Teak is harvested from tropical forests wherever it occurs in Asia. Typically, teak trees are girdled and stripped of their lower bark, and then left standing for two years prior to felling. This allows the trees to dry somewhat before they are cut down, so the logs will be lighter and can be more easily dragged out of the forest. After the teak trees are felled they are sectioned into manageable-sized logs. These are then transported out of the forest using elephants or mechanical skidders, often to a river, on which the logs are floated to the coast for processing into lumber or veneer.

Unfortunately, teak occurring in natural forests is rarely harvested on a sustainable basis, and the resources of this extremely valuable tropical hardwood are being rapidly mined. Today and more so into the future, much of the teak available in commerce must be grown in plantations established for the production of this precious wood.

Other tropical species of tree in the Verbena family are also valuable as sources of hardwood lumber. These include species of Petitea, Premna, and Vitex celebica. Zither wood is a specialized material derived from Citharexylum spp. of Central and South America, and used to manufacture musical instruments.

The tropical trees Lippia citriodora and Vitex agnuscastus are useful as a source of natural oils, known as oil of verbena.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Verbena Family (Verbenaceae) - Tropical Hardwoods In The Verbena Family to WelfarismVerbena Family (Verbenaceae) - Tropical Hardwoods In The Verbena Family, Ornamental Species, North American Species