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Merbau tree appearance and lumber

Merbau trees are common throughout tropical forests of Southeast and East Asia. These tall trees are famous for their excellent hardwood properties. Merbau wood is very durable, has nice colorations and works well both by hand and machine despite its hardness. Excessive and illegal loggings have declined the species. To prevent the merbau tree from extinction new ways of commercial plating are investigated and tested. The scientific name of merbau is intsia bijga and in is part of the leguminosae family.

merbau trees

Merbau tree, leaf and fruit description

merbau tree seeds bark and logThe tallest merbau trees can grow to heights up to 165 feet or 50 meters. The tree is not evergreen but classed as deciduous and won't have leaves all year.

Merbau leaves are leathery and oblong to elliptic shaped and reach lengths up to 10 inches or 25 cm. New and young tree leaves are light green colored and turn to dark green when aging.

Fruits of the merbau tree look very similar to that of shorea trees like white meranti. The winged fruits are egg shaped and have many uses like: food for humans or cattle food, fuel source and also in traditional medicine.


Merbau tree bark and trunk

Young merbau trees have smooth grey brown bark. When the tree gets older the bark gets darker, slightly fissured and scaly. The bark of both young and old trees is used in various traditional medicines. The trunk of old merbau trees is long, cylindric and free of branches the first 65 feet or 20 meters. The diameter of the trunk depends on the age of the tree. Old trees can have trunks with a diameter up to 5 feet or 1.5 meters.

Merbau wood properties and durability

Fresh merbau heartwood is dark yellow to orange colored and darkens to reddish brown when exposed to sunlight. Sapwood is paler then the heartwood. The wood has a straight or interlocked grain and moderate coarse texture. Merbau is known for its nice colorations, hardness, heavy weight and strength, good stability and decay resistance. The average dried weight of the wood at a moisture content of 12% is 825 kg per cubic meter. The durability of merbau wood is classed as I or II high durability.


Merbau wood working tips and uses

Merbau wood is moderate difficult to work with hand tools because of its hardness and high density. Pre drilling is always advised when screws or nails are used. Merbau lumber can be glued well but due to its high density it is advised to use special heavy duty glue.

merbau tree wood usesFresh wood often contains a gummy substance that has blunting effects on cutting edges. After sawing use warm water mixed with ammonia to remove discolorations. To prevent further discolorations from the gummy substance to the lumber use a blocking finish.

Merbau is used in a wide range of products like

  • high quality and luxury furniture
  • flooring
  • decking
  • instruments
  • cabin makings
  • turned articles
  • and more!

More merbau tree pictures!