TEAK-WOOD is the produce of the Tectona grandis, a native of the mountainous parts of the Malabar coast, and of the Rajahmundry Circars, as well as of Java, Ceylon, and the Moulmein and Tenasserim coasts.
It grows quickly, straight, and lofty; the wood is light and porous, and easily worked, but it is nevertheless strong and durable; it is soon seasoned, and being oily, does not injure iron; and shrinks but little in width. Its colour is light brown, and it is esteemed most valuable timber in India for ship building and house-carpentry; it has many localities. The Malabar teak grown on the western side of the Ghaut mountains is esteemed the best, and is always preferred at our Government dock-yards. Teak is considered a more brittle wood than the Saul or the Sissoo.
In 25 years the teak attains the size of two feet diameter, and is considered serviceable timber, but it requires 100 years to arrive at maturity.
There is a variety, says Dr. Roxburgh, which grows on the banks of the Godavery in the Deccan, of which the wood is beautifully veined, closer grained and heavier than the common teak-tree, and which is well adapted for furniture.
Some of the old trees have beautiful burrs, resembling the Amboyna, which are much esteemed. I have an excellent specimen of the burr of the teak-wood, through the kindness of Dr. Horsfield, of the East India House.
The woods in general do not very perceptibly alter in respect to length; Teak, says Colonel Lloyd is a remarkable exception. He found the contraction in length in the beams of a large room he erected in the Mauritius, to be three quarters of an inch in 38 feet.
The teak-wood when fresh has an agreeable odour, something like rosewood, and an oil is obtained from it. He adds, "The finest teak now produced comes from Moulmein and other parts of Burmah; some of this timber is unusually heavy and close-grained, but in purchasing large quantities care must be taken that the wood has not been tapped for its oil, which is a frequent custom of the natives, and renders the wood less durable."
"At Moulmein, so much straight timber is taken and the crooked left, that thousands of pieces called ' shin log3,' and admirably adapted for ship-timbers, are left. Teak contains a large quantity of siliceous matter, which is very destructive to the tools."
African teak does not belong to the same genus as the Indian teak; by some it is thought to be a Euphorbiaceous plant, and by Mr. Don to be a Vitex,