The Verbenaceae (teak) family has three members. Of these three, only one is used for commercial purposes. It has a high marketplace value and is used for various timber products. The other two species are not used commercially and are considered endangered. All three species are found in Asia.
Tectona grandis or teak is a commercial darling with wood that is durable and highly resistant to fungus and insects. The two remaining species are the Tectona philippinensis or Philippine teak and the Tectona hamiltoniana or Dahat teak.
Tectona grandis is native to India, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. It is farmed in tropical countries around the world. The Philippine teak is native to the Philippines and is confined to the Philippine islands of Iling and Luzon. The Dahat teak is native to Myanmar and is confined to Myanmar's "Dry Zone."
The Dahat teak has a trunk that can grow up to 26 feet in height and to a diameter of about 27 inches. Its leaves usually grow in clusters of three and its flowers range from white to pale blue. The tree flowers from June to August. The Philippine teak grows to about 49 feet with leaves that measure 3 to 6 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide and has white flowers. The Tectona grandis is the biggest of the three measuring up to a height of 115 feet. Its leaves are simple and its flowers are white.
The wood of the Tectona grandis is used in ship building, railways, furniture, cabinet making and various other commercial purposes. Dahat teak is not an important timber wood but is used locally for fuel and construction. Philippine teak is used for house posts and general construction but is not an important timber wood either. Both the Dahat and Philippine teaks have potential to be used for teak breeding but further research needs to be done.
All three species of teak trees are in need of conservation. Natural forests of Tectona grandis have decreased in the last 50 years with the forests that remain threatened by illegal logging and other types of forest destruction. Only 4,300 living specimens of Philippine teak remain and the number of Dahat specimens is not known but it is considered endangered. Official protective measures are non-existent for the Philippine and Dahat teaks.
- Photo Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/caspermoller/
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