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Meranti

Scientific name

Shorea spp., Parashorea spp. Family: Dipterocarpaceae

Other names

Borneo cedar; seraya; lauan; Philippine mahogany

Description

  • Large trees grow to 70m high.
  • Stem grows to 1.5m diameter.
  • Stems usually have moderately large buttresses and straight cylindrical trunks.

Occurrence

  • A tropical rainforest species found throughout South-East Asia and the islands of the South West Pacific region including the Philippines, Indonesia and east Malaysia.
  • Many species of Shorea and Parashorea grow in Southeast Asia.

Appearance

Colour

  • Heartwood varies from pale pink to dark red, or from white to straw to yellow.
  • Sapwood cannot be reliably identified by colour difference.

Grain

  • Texture is moderately coarse, and quarter-sawn timber often displays an attractive ribbon figure (pattern).

Uses

  • Decorative: flooring, panelling, furniture, joinery, mouldings, plywood, turnery, carving.

Properties

  • Density:
    • Balau (other than red Balau) 900kg/m3
    • Red balau 840kg/m3
    • Philippine mahogany (light red) 525kg/m3
    • Philippine mahogany (red) 535kg/m3
    • Meranti (dark red) 670kg/m3
    • Meranti (light red) 560kg/m3
    • Meranti (white) 705kg/m3
    • Meranti (yellow) 660kg/m3.
  • Strength groups:
    • Balau (other than red Balau) S3 unseasoned, (SD3) seasoned
    • Red balau S3 unseasoned, SD4 seasoned
    • Philippine mahogany (light red) (S6) unseasoned, (SD6) seasoned
    • Philippine mahogany (red) (S6) unseasoned, (SD6) seasoned
    • Meranti (dark red) S5 unseasoned, SD6 seasoned
    • Meranti (light red) S6 unseasoned, SD7 seasoned
    • Meranti (white) S4 unseasoned, SD5 seasoned
    • Meranti (yellow) S5 unseasoned, (SD6) seasoned.
  • Stress grades when visually stress-graded according to AS 2082—2000: Timber—Hardwood—Visually stress-graded for structural purposes:
    • Balau (other than red Balau) F8, F11, F14, F17 (unseasoned); F14, F17, F22, F27 (seasoned)
    • Red balau F8, F11, F14, F17 (unseasoned); F11, F14, F17, F22 (seasoned)
    • Philippine mahogany (light red) F4, F5, F7, F8 (unseasoned); F7, F8, F11, F14 (seasoned)
    • Philippine mahogany (red) F4, F5, F7, F8 (unseasoned); F7, F8, F11, F14 (seasoned)
    • Meranti (dark red) F5, F7, F8, F11 (unseasoned); F7, F8, F11, F14 (seasoned)
    • Meranti (light red) F4, F5, F7, F8 (unseasoned); F5, F7, F8, F11 (seasoned)
    • Meranti (white) F7, F8, F11, F14 (unseasoned); F8, F11, F14, F17 (seasoned)
    • Meranti (yellow) F5, F7, F8, F11 (unseasoned); F7, F8, F11, F14 (seasoned).
  • Joint groups:
    • Balau (other than red Balau) J2 unseasoned, JD2 seasoned
    • Red balau JD2 seasoned
    • Philippine mahogany (light red) SD4 seasoned
    • Philippine mahogany (red) JD4 seasoned
    • Meranti (dark red) JD3 seasoned
    • Meranti (light red) J4 unseasoned, JD4 seasoned
    • Meranti (white) JD3 seasoned
    • Meranti (yellow) JD3 seasoned.
  • Shrinkage to 12% MC: 6.5–8.0% (tangential), 4.0–5.0% (radial).
  • Unit shrinkage: not available.
  • Durability above-ground:
    • Balau (other than red Balau) class 1—life expectancy more than 40 years
    • Red balau class (4)—life expectancy less than 7 years
    • Philippine mahogany (light red) class (4)—life expectancy less than 7 years
    • Philippine mahogany (red) class 3—life expectancy 7–15 years
    • Meranti (dark red) class 3—life expectancy 7–15 years
    • Meranti (light red) class 4—life expectancy less than 7 years
    • Meranti (white) class (4)—life expectancy less than 7 years
    • Meranti (yellow) class (4)—life expectancy less than 7 years.
  • Durability in-ground:
    • Balau (other than red Balau) class 2—life expectancy 15–25 years
    • Red balau class 4—life expectancy less than 5 years
    • Philippine mahogany (light red) class 4—life expectancy less than 5 years
    • Philippine mahogany (red) class 4—life expectancy less than 5 years
    • Meranti (dark red) class 4—life expectancy less than 5 years
    • Meranti (light red) class 4—life expectancy less than 5 years
    • Meranti (white) class 4—life expectancy less than 5 years
    • Meranti (yellow) class 4—life expectancy less than 5 years.
  • Lyctine susceptibility: untreated sapwood susceptible to lyctid borer attack.
  • Termite resistance: only yellow meranti is resistant.
  • Preservation: sapwood will readily impregnate with preservative but the heartwood can’t adequately be treated using available commercial processes.
  • Seasoning: satisfactorily dries using conventional air and kiln seasoning.
  • Hardness: firm to soft (rated 4 and 5 on a 6-class scale) to indent and work with hand tools.
  • Machining: machines reasonably well to a smooth surface, but use sharp tools on lower density species to avoid a woolly cut.
  • Fixing: no difficulty using standard fittings and fastenings.
  • Gluing: satisfactorily bonds using standard procedures.
  • Finishing: can be painted, stained or polished, but surfaces may need filling before finishing due to the timber’s open grain.

Identification features

General characteristics

  • Sapwood: sometimes lighter in colour than heartwood.
  • Heartwood: varies from white or yellow through to light red or pink-brown.
  • Texture: coarse but even.

Wood structure

  • Growth rings: absent.
  • Vessels: moderately large with simple perforation plates; few or moderately few; mostly solitary, some in oblique or radial pairs or radial multiples up to 4; diffuse, occasional clusters; tyloses; no vessel deposits.
  • Parenchyma (soft tissue): paratracheal—incomplete, narrow, vasicentric, aliform or occasionally confluent; apotracheal—irregularly spaced bands enclosing resin canals, and as diffuse strands, often short, narrow lines between the rays.
  • Rays: medium to fine, may be visible without a lens; may be clearly visible on radial surfaces.
  • Intercellular canals: longitudinal canals often prominent in concentric series; distinctly visible without a lens in cross-section and longitudinal section; canals plugged with white-coloured resin.

Other features and variations

  • Burning splinter test: match varies between species—some burn to an ash, others leave no ash.

Note: Features described above vary a lot within the many species marketed as meranti.

Research and resources

  • Ilic, J 1991, CSIRO atlas of hardwoods, Crawford House Press, Bathurst, Australia.
  • Queensland Government, DAF 2018, Construction timbers in Queensland: Properties and specifications for satisfactory performance of construction timbers in Queensland. Class 1 and Class 10 buildings, Books 1 & 2, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  • Standards Australia, 2000, AS 2082—2000: Timber—Hardwood—Visually stress-graded for structural purposes, Standards Australia International, Strathfield, NSW.