Characteristics of Teak Tree (Tectona grandis) in the Wild

Tectona grandis
Teak is a type of tree that produces high-quality wood. The distribution starts from India, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, to Indonesia. The tree grows naturally in deciduous forests.

According to several botanists, the teak tree is a native species of Burma, which later spread to the Indian Peninsula, Thailand, the Philippines, and Java. Some other botanists consider the teak tree to be a species native to Burma, India, Thailand, and Laos.

About 70% of the world’s teakwood needs are currently supplied by Burma. The remaining needs are supplied by India, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. However, the world’s only natural teak forest supply comes from Burma.

Currently, teak trees are also cultivated in Africa and the Caribbean.


Characteristics of Teak Leaf

Tectona grandis Leaf
Source : and Kim Starr

The leaves are large, ovate upside down, opposite, short-stemmed, downy, and can reach 30-60 cm in width. The young leaves are reddish and secrete blood red when squeezed.


Characteristics of Teak Flower

Tectona grandis Flower
Source : Anh Dao

The flowers are compound, appearing located in large panicles measuring 40 × 40 cm containing hundreds of flower buds arranged in a garland umbrella and located at the end of a branch.


Characteristics of Teak Fruit

Tectona grandis Fruit
Source : Khare

The fruit is round, slightly flattened, measuring 1-2 cm, with rough hair with a thick core, and seeds 2-4. The fruit itself is covered in enlargement of the flower petals that swell to resemble a small balloon.


Characteristics of Teak Tree

Tectona grandis Tree
Source :

Teak trees can grow as large trees with straight round trunks, up to 45 meters high and 2-2.5 meters in diameter.

The branch-free trunk reaches 17-20 meters. In unmanaged forests, individual teak trees grow with bent trunks.

Teak trees that are considered good are those that have a large trunk circumference, straight trunk, and few branches. The best teak wood usually comes from trees that are more than 80 years old.

The most suitable climate for teak trees is one that has a regular dry season, but not too long, with rainfall between 1200-3000 mm per year, and with high light intensity throughout the year. The optimal altitude is 0-700 m above sea level, although actually teak trees can also grow up to 1,300 m above sea level.


Teak wood is a high-quality wood because of its strength, durability, and beauty. Technically, teak wood has strength class II and durability class I-II. This wood is very resistant to termite attacks.

Teak wood contains a kind of oil and deposits in the wood cells, so it can be used in the open without varnishing.

Teak has long been used as a raw material for shipbuilding, including VOC ships sailing the oceans in the 17th century. Also in heavy construction such as bridges and rail bearings.

In the house, besides being used as raw material for teak furniture, it is also used in building structures. Traditional Javanese houses, such as the Central Java Joglo House, use teak wood in almost all parts of it.

In today’s industry, teak wood is processed into veneers to coat expensive plywood, as well as used as a floor covering parquet pieces. It is also exported to foreign countries in the form of furniture.

Teak branches that can no longer be used for furniture are used as first-class firewood. Teak wood generates high heat.


Teak leaves are traditionally used in Java as food wrappers. The rice wrapped in teak leaves is even more delicious. An example is the famous Jamblang rice from the Jamblang area, Cirebon.

Teak leaves are also widely used in Yogyakarta, Central Java, and East Java as a wrapper for tempeh.

Various types of teak pests are also often used as food for villagers. Two of them are teak grasshoppers, which are large brownish, and caterpillars. Teak caterpillars are often considered special foods because of their deliciousness. These caterpillars are collected before the rainy season, in the morning when they hang down from the trees in search of a place to form a cocoon. The teak cocoons were also collected and eaten.


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