Teak gets a saviour

An Australian tree offers wood that can replace teak for furniture

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

A RECENTLY developed species of a native Australian tree -- the northern black wattle (Acacia auriculiformis) -- may save the precious tropical teak forests from being wiped out by offering high-quality furniture wood.

Already well-established in China, India and south-east Asia, the black wattle is not a favourite for good-quality timber -- it twists and contorts, making it unsuited to high-grade wood. But timber experts at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's premier scientific institute, have developed a "superior wattle" that grows dead-straight and they claim it is endowed with teak-like qualities. Not only does it boast of the red-gold hue, grain density and the strength and durability of the tropical timber, but it also grows two or three times faster and does not require fertile soil.

The new strain produces high-quality timber in 15 to 20 years, while teak may take 40 to 50 years. Its dense foliage suppresses weeds and it can withstand six months' drought a year, claim scientists.

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