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What is Indonesian Teak?

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  • Written By: Anna Harrison
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Indonesian teak is a member of the birch family of large hardwood trees in the Verbenaceae genus that is valued for its high quality lumber that has many uses. It grows not only in Indonesia, but throughout Southeast Asia, and is also known as plantation teak. With reddish leaves and golden wood, this type of teak tree is ornamental as well as useful. Teak trees are versatile, grow in many different climates, and may live for a century or more. They produce a tough, durable wood that is extremely resistant to harsh weather.

This strong, long lasting wood often used to make high quality outdoor furniture. Exterior window frames and doors are also frequently made from teak lumber. The wood contains an oil that protects it from warping or rotting when exposed to the elements, and for this reason it is often used to make decking for boats and large ships. Indonesian teak is fairly rare and is considered the highest quality teak in the world. Although it can be costly, it is well worth the price because Indonesian teak furniture will last for decades with little care.

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The Indonesian teak tree grows very tall, reaching up to 130 feet (40 m) when given plenty of space and sunlight. It produces lovely white flowers throughout the summer months which are very fragrant. The oval leaves are dark green and are quite large, up to 17 inches 43 cm) in length. These trees grow in a wide range of climates and survive in areas that receive very little rainfall as well as those that get significant amounts of rain.

Older, mature trees produce the highest quality lumber. Before the wood can be made into furniture, it has to dry for a period of one to two years. The wood is currently in such high demand that the Indonesian government regulates the plantations that harvest these trees and the teak that they export.

Indonesian teak is the only teak furniture that is certified by the Friends of the Earth and the Rainforest Alliance. This is because these trees are grown strictly for harvesting the lumber and do not harm the rainforests of Indonesia. As a result, Indonesian furniture and lumber exporters are making a profit from their natural resources without harming the surrounding areas and are using them in a responsible way.

Furniture made in Indonesia by talented craftsmen is of very high quality, and it is less expensive to buy furniture that is put together there. When the products are built elsewhere, the lumber has to be exported to those countries. This greatly increases the price of the finished piece.

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