Rubber trees, also known as the para rubber trees, and oak trees both play an important part in the lumber industry. Oak has a long history as a primary source of timber for builders and manufacturers, but the rubber tree has been notable for its latex -- used to make rubber. Since the early 1980s, however, the wood of the para rubber tree has gained acceptance in the marketplace.
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Parawood comes from the para rubber tree, (Helvia brasiliensis), a native of the Amazon river basin. A tall tree, it can reach as high as 100 to 125 feet. Commercial growers plant the tree far from its native region, on plantations in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Para rubber trees, the main source of the world's rubber supply, stop producing latex around 25 years of age. When they can no longer produce latex, growers often fell the trees for their wood.
Unlike parawood, oak wood does not not come from a single species. Many oak species have economically valuable timber. Two of the most prominent types of oak timber, white oak and red oak have a large share of the domestic hardwood lumber market. Red oak wood, pink to reddish in color, comes from about 17 different species. White oak wood, with a color that can range from whitish to brown, comes from about eight species.
Parawood has a coarse texture and a tart odor, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The wood has a low resistance to insect attack and needs chemical treatment to prevent damage. It works easily, but has a tendency to split when nailed. White oak wood works well and cuts cleanly. Red oak wood works well but has a low resistance to decay. White oak has a strong to moderate decay resistance, depending on the species. Both white oak and red oak wood shrink significantly when dried.
Parawood finds use in both the construction and furniture industries. Paper companies use the wood for pulp and manufacturers use it to make particle board. Furniture manufacturers also use white oak and red oak extensively. The two oak woods make excellent cabinets and railroad ties. Both types of oak provide a good material for industrial flooring. White oak lumber makes good fence posts and fence boards as well.