Monkey Pod (Rain Tree):
Rain tree (Samanea saman) is easily recognized by its characteristic umbrella-shaped canopy (see above). When grown in the open, the tree usually reaches 15–25 m (50–80 ft) in height with a canopy diameter wider than the tree is tall. Rain tree is most important in the Pacific as a shade tree on small farms, along roads, in parks and pastures. The wood could be developed more widely as a commercial timber, comparing favorably to black walnut. Rain tree naturalizes freely almost everywhere it has been introduced and is considered an invasive pest in Vanuatu and Fiji. In many other places naturalized rain tree is not considered a problem but a useful wood source as in Thailand.
In Asia, Monkey Pod is mainly grown in the Northern provinces along the neighboring borders providing a bountiful yet limited (time wise) source of larger wood for the carving industry. Harvested correctly the trunk is left in place and larger limbs are cut for use initially. Eventually the trunk is cut as it passes its best producing cycle. There are no lumber yards for this wood. Once we receive orders we have trees cut that fit the size we need to use. The wood must be rough cut and carved within several weeks. Otherwise the wood dries out, becomes stringy, and breaks up easily if carved too dry.
Farmed Teak Wood:
Today the teak wood industry is thriving and controlled, not completely due to outside agencies. It is mainly to the Kings foresight and intervention along with the enforcement by the Royal Thai Forestry Department. Old large teak wood is of course still cut but in limited quantities. This is a natural function in good forestry management. In Thailand this is only done with and under the supervision of the Royal Forestry department. These logs are very expensive and auctioned off to lumber buyers several times a year. There are numerous products made from old branches harvested by hand also.
The majority of teak products are made from farmed teak. Since it is farmed the size in diameter is limited due to demand and growth cycles. The color is also lighter with variations of whitish wood to the “teak” or orange brown heart wood. With the application of a light coat of teak oil the wood is very beautiful in appearance and maintained properly will last for years.
Today there is a problem with the export of Thai farmed teak wood to Indonesia for their wood making industry since Indonesia has apparently stripped its producing capability.
Reclaimed Teak Wood:
Teak is harmful to the soil if disposed of improperly. Because many communities around the world have used teak for building, these items are aged beautifully and can be hundreds of years old. Time and effort is used to select wood to transform into beautiful pieces of furniture.
Mango Wood (fruit tree):
Mangos of many species are farmed in Thailand as it is a cultural staple crop for the nation’s food supply. Mango is used as a snack fresh dipped in dried chilies and sugar/salt, as a cooking ingredient, as a dessert with sticky rice and coconut milk, and as a dried export fruit..
As with all fruit trees there is an optimal life cycle for its fruit bearing years. Consequently the trees are replanted continuously and a supply of wood is generated mainly for the wood turning industry up North. Due to the tree type and life cycle most mango wood products are under 15” in diameter.
A little known fact is that mango trees are not grown from seed but are grafts or cuttings. The fruit bearing capacity is severely diminished in a tree grown from its seed. Perhaps next we will find a use for the seed!