The RIC Good Wood Guide

Imported Timbers whose use should be Avoided



Note: Some of these species are now available from certified and/or ecoforestry sources (see Certified Timber Available For Import). Always try to make absolutely certain of the source of any imported timber before contemplating its purchase.

Please give us feedback on the changing status of any timber species on this list, or others of which you are aware (ed.).



1. Common Name...

2. Botanical Name (genus & species)

3. Other Names

4. Origin

5. Comments - re qualities, colour, uses, endangered status, etc



(Fitzroya cupressoides)

Southern Chile, Argentina

- Large softwood. Heartwood reddish-brown, similar to Californian Redwood. Durable. Furniture, cladding, joinery, etc.


(Agathis spp)

East Indonesian Kauri, Fijian Kauri

Malaysia, Philippines, PNG, Fiji

- Medium to large softwood. Not durable. Plywood, joinery, furniture, turnery, carving.

Amberoi (E)

(Pterocymbium spp)

PNG, Sabah, Philippines

- Hardwood. Not durable. Plywood, joinery, packaging.

Amoora (E)

(Amoora cucullata)


- Hardwood. Moderate durability. Joinery, furniture, turnery, plywood.

Basswood (E)

(Endospermum spp)

New Guinea Basswood

PNG, Fiji, Malaysia

- Hardwood. Non-durable. Joinery, plywood.


(Shorea spp)

Alan, Alan Batu, Balau, Mangasinoro, Meraka Alan

Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines

- Heartwood yellow to brown and durable. Heavy construction, wharfage, sleepers, shipbuilding. The FAO regards many species of Shorea as "threatened". *

Bauvudi (C) - as 'Pencil Cedar'

(Palaquium spp NB: not Nyatoh - see below - which is also Palaquium spp)

Pencil Cedar, Sacau (Fiji)

Fiji, Thailand, Philippines, PNG, Indonesia, Solomon Is.

- Hardwood. Moderate durability. Variable strength. Plywood, joinery, turnery, carving.

Burma Mahogany

(Pentace spp. NB: not Pentacme - see Lauan)

Thitka, Baru Baran, Melanak

Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia

- Hard, heavy, strong, durable. Cabinetwork, superior joinery, boatbuilding.

Brown Terminalia

(Terminalia brassii)



- Large hardwood. Non-durable. Plywood, joinery.

Calophyllum (C) (E)

(Calophyllum spp)

Bintangor, Damanu

S-E Asia, PNG, Fiji

- Large hardwood. Deep red colour. Moderately durable. General construction, flooring, furniture.


(Campnosperma spp)



- Non-durable.

Cedar, Western Red (Te) (C)

(Thuja plicata)

Canoe Cedar, Giant Arborvitae, Pacific Red Cedar

North America ,

- Heartwood is pale to dark brown and durable. Cladding, shingles, windows, furniture, external joinery.

Cheesewood, White

(Alstonia scholaris)


PNG, S-E Asia, India (and nthn Qld)

- Medium to large hardwood. Soft. Non-durable. Non-structural. Plywood, carving, mouldings.

Dakua Salusalu

(Decussocarpus vitiensis, Podocarpus vitiensis)

Red Podocarp


- Medium to large softwood. Not durable. Joinery, furniture.

Douglas Fir - see Oregon

Ebony, Vietnamese

(Diospyros mun)


Vietnam, Laos

Erima (E)

(Octomeles sumatrana)

Binuang, Ilimo

Sumatra, Sabah, Philippines, PNG

- Hardwood. Not durable. Plywood, mouldings.


(Gmelina moluccana)

Hemlock (Te) (C) - as 'Western Hemlock'

(Tsuga spp)

Canada, USA

- Large softwood. Yellow-brown, sometimes pinkish tint. Non-durable. Construction, joinery.


(Chlorophora spp)

African Teak, Kambala, Odum, Muvule, Ulono, Oroko

Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ghana

- Heartwood is pale yellowish-brown to dark brown. Joinery, furniture, carving, boatbuilding, veneer. "Endangered" - FAO.


(Dyera spp)


Indonesia, Malaysia

- Used for latex production by local people. Wood is white or straw-coloured. Interior joinery, carving, plywood, patternmaking, pencils. "Requires conservation action" - FAO.


(Dactylocladus spp.)

Medang Tabak

Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak), Indonesia

- Large hardwood. Not durable. Joinery, furniture, plywood, packing crates.


(Toona spp)

Calantas, (NB: Azidarachta integrifolia, known as Maranggo, is also sometimes sold as Calantas)

Indonesia, Malaysia

- Medium hardwood. Reddish brown. Durable. Furniture, joinery, boatbuilding, carving.

Kamarere (C) (E)

(Eucalyptus deglupta)

PNG, West Papua (Irian Jaya), Celebes.

- Large hardwood. One of the few non-Australian eucalypts. Being cultivated in the Philippines. Pale to red-brown. Moderate durability. Construction, plywood, joinery, flooring.


(Dryobalanops spp)

Kapoer, Borneo Teak, Borneo Camphorwood, Keladin

S-E Asia, Sumatra,

- Heartwood yellow, pink or reddish-brown. Durable. Camphor-like odour. Joinery, construction, furniture, decking. "Requires conservation action" - FAO


(Myristica spp)

Fijian Oak, Darah Darah, Nutmeg

Fiji (related sp. in PNG and Northern Qld)

- Large hardwood. Pale brown, orange/pink tint. Non-durable. Joinery, furniture, plywood, turnery.


(Agathis spp)

Agathis, Almaciga, Damar Minyak, Bindang, Fijian Kauri, Dakua Makadre

S-E Asia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea

- Coniferous softwood with high commercial value. Has copal resin suitable for varnish. Heartwood pale yellowish-brown. Musical instruments, plywood, Indonesian Kauri joinery, artificial limbs, vats, instrument cases.


(Endospermum macrophyllum)

New Guinea Basswood, White Milkwood, Sendok-sendok


- Large hardwood. Quite common in PNG. Pale yellow. Not durable. Joinery, plywood.


(Koompassia spp)

Impas (Sabah), Mengris (Sarawak),Tualangun

Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, PNG

- Found in lowland forest in swampy areas. Heartwood reddish-brown. Durable except for inground. Plywood, flooring, sleepers, bridges, wharfage. "Endangered"


(Dipterocarpus spp.)

Apitong, Gerjun, Gurjun, Yang, Bagac, Eng

Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Thailand, Indian sub-continent

- Heartwood: considerable variation, but generally light to dark reddish brown colour. "Requires conservation action" - FAO.


(Pterygota macrocarpa)

African Ash

West Africa: Ivory Coast, Cameroun

- Large hardwood. Pale straw colour, white fleck. Non-durable. Veneer, joinery, furniture.

Kwila - see Merbau

Labula (E)

(Anthocephalus spp)


PNG, Philippines, S-E Asia

- Hardwood. Pale yellow. Non-durable. Joinery, crates.

Larch, Western (C)

(Larix occidentalis)

- Large softwood from N-W USA and Canada. Grows with Oregon. Heartwood durable. House frames, joinery, panelling.


(Dipterocarpus / Shorea, Parshorea, Pentacme spp)

Almon, Apitong, Bagtikan, Guijo, Mangachapui, Mayapis, Narig, Palosapis, Red Lauan, Tangile, Tiaong, White Lauan, Yacal, Philippine Mahogany, Meranti (P), Pacific Maple

S-E Asia, Philippines

- Pale yellow to dark brown. Name sometimes used interchangably with Meranti (Shorea), and/or Pacific Maple

NB: The Lauan/Meranti group (Shorea, Parshorea, Pentacme): "Endangered". Origin, S-E Asia. The term "Lauan" or "Philippine mahogany" is applied to 3 genera. The various species of the 3 genera can be categorized into 5 groups, based on heartwood colour. Meranti and Seraya are names applied only to the genera Shorea. Various Shorea species such as S. curtisii and S. platyclados are listed as "requiring conservation action" according to the FAO.


(Terminalia superba)

Limbo, Frake, Afara, Offram


- Grey-white to yellow-brown with dark streaks. Veneer, joinery, furniture.

Lodgepole Pine

(Pinus contorta)

- Softwood from N-W USA and Canada. One of about eight or so species included in the Spruce-Pine-Fir (SPF) group, which all share similar characteristics. Not durable.


(Heritiera spp.)

Mengkulang, Rosarosa, Red Cedar, Chumprag

Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Fiji

- Heartwood is dark reddish-brown. Plywood, internal joinery, furniture, flooring, boatbuilding.


(Swietenia spp)

American / Cuban / Spanish / Honduras Mahogany

West Indies, Central & South America

- Heartwood yellow-brown to red-brown. Moderately durable. One of the world's outstanding furniture timbers. Also used for panelling. doors, window and picture frames, boat fittings, toilet seats and coffins. Scarce. Could disappear within 15 years. Seldom seen in Australia.

Malas (E)

(Homalium foetidium)

Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, PNG

- Large hardwood. Orange-brown to red-brown. Moderate durability. Construction, shipbuilding, flooring, joinery, turnery.

Meranti (P)

(Shorea, Hopea spp)

Light Red/Dark Red Meranti, Tanguile, Almon, Seraya, Mayapis, Lauan, Oba Suluk, Nemesu, Mesu, Philippine Lauan, Philippine Mahogany

Malaysia, Sabah, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand

- Heartwood reddish-brown. Mouldings, dowels and architraves, plywood, furniture, panelling, joinery, paint**.


(Hopea spp)

Hopea, Light Hopea

India, PNG, Sarawak, Sabah, Philippines

- Medium to large hardwood. Yellow-brown to dark brown. Moderately durable. Construction, boatbuilding, joinery, furniture.

Merbau (C)- as 'Kwila' (E)

(Intsia, Afzelia spp.)

Ipil, Vesi, Merabau, Miraboo, Melila, Bendora, Ironwood, Borneo Teak, Kwila. (Alternative names for the Intsia bijuga include: Aizella, Choyo, Dort, Hintzy, Ifet, Ifil, Ipil, Kebuk, Kubok, Kubuk, Kuren, Kwila, Lumpha, Lumpho, Merbau, Nityanmis, Show, Thort, Tuamis, Wantal, Zolt, Zort)

Philippines, Malaysia, PNG, Fiji

- Yellowish, brown, red-brown. Very hard, heavy, strong, durable. Construction, furniture, skirting, joinery, wood-turning and musical intruments. Listed as "vulnerable" - FAO

Mersawa (C)

(Anisoptera spp)

Palosapis, Krabak

Malaysia to East Pakistan, Philippines, PNG

- Heartwood yellowish-brown, may have pink streaks. High silica content - rapidly blunts cutting equipment. Generally not durable. Plywood, furniture, flooring, general construction.

Narra (C) - as 'Rosewood'

(Pterocarpus indicus)

Amboyna Wood (burls), Rosewood, New Guinea Rosewood, Sena, Angsena

S-E Asia, Philippines, Solomons, PNG, East Indies

- Heartwood golden-brown or blood red. Fragrant. Seasons and finishes well; works easily. Furniture, veneer, turnery, panelling, knife handles.

New Guinea Beech (E)

(Nothofagus spp)


- Hardwood. Moderate durability. Furniture, flooring, joinery, turnery.

New Guinea Oak (E)

(Castanopsis acuminatissima, Lithocarpus spp)


- Hardwood. Brown. Grey-brown, dark brown streaks. Moderate durability. Plywood, veneer, furniture, joinery, flooring.


(Palaquium, Payena spp.)

Balam, Bitis, Ketiau, Jangkar, Bauvudi, Maiang

Malaysia, Philippines, Fiji

- Heartwood is pinkish to red-brown. Sour odour. Plywood, furniture, mouldings.


(Triplochiton scleroxylon)

African/Nigerian Whitewood, Abachi, Arere, Ayous, Samba, Wawa

West Africa: Gabon

- Large hardwood. White to pale yellow. Non-durable. Plywood, joinery, furniture.


(Aucoumea klaineana)

Okumie, Gaboon, Samara

West Africa

- Large hardwood. Salmon pink to pinkish-brown. Not durable. Plywood, joinery, furniture. "Vulnerable" - FAO.

Oregon (Te) (P) (C) - as 'Douglas Fir'

(Pseudotsuga spp.)

Douglas Fir, Oregon Pine, Columbian Pine, Puget Sound Pine, Red/Yellow Fir

Western North America, British Columbia, NZ, Aust.

- Heartwood yellow-brown to pale reddish-brown. Non-durable. Structural framing, laminated beams, joinery, vats, boatbuilding, flooring, sleepers.

Pacific Maple

(Shorea spp)

other names - see Lauan

- Not to be confused with Bigleaf or Oregon Maple (Acer macrophyllum) which may also be termed 'Pacific Maple'.


(Pterocarpus spp)

Vermillon, Vermilion Wood, Padouk, Andaman Redwood, Corail, PNG/Burmese Rosewood, East Indies Mahogany, Lingoa, Yoma, Pradu

West Africa, Andaman Islands, Thailand

- Heartwood is orange to dark red. Durable. Wall- panelling, tool handles, flooring, furniture, cabinetwork, joinery.


(Dracontomelum spp)

New Guinea Walnut, Dao

- Large hardwood. Low to moderate durability. Veneer, carving, furniture, turnery.

Philippine Mahogany

(Shorea / Dipterocarpus spp)

Lauan, Tanguile (see also Lauan)


- Heartwood various shades of red. Durable except inground. Plywood, joinery, furniture, boatbuilding.

Planchonella (C) (E)

(Planchonella spp, esp torricellensis, kaernbachiana)

Red, White Planchonella

PNG, Solomon Is., Fiji

- Hardwood. Pink to pink-brown with darker markings. Moderate durability. Framework, flooring, joinery, turnery.


(Gonystylus spp.)

Baygo, Melawis, Lanutan, Mavota, Gaharu, Ruaja

Malaysia (Sarawak, Borneo), Indonesia (Sumatra), Fiji

- One of the few moderately heavy woods known as a "blond" wood. Furniture, mouldings, picture frames, dowels, fine joinery, tool-handles. "Vulnerable", "over-exploited, shows poor regeneration" - FAO.

Redwood (Te) (P)

(Sequoia spp)

Californian Redwood, Canadian Redwood

Californian Coast, New Zealand

- Heartwood pale to dark reddish brown. Outdoor furniture, vats, cladding, panelling, plywood. Australia imports timber of Redwood trees which were 1,500 to 2,000 years old. Less than 5% of the old growth Redwood forests remain, but logging continues despite protests. There is presently no way of verifying whether Redwood imports come from plantations or old growth forests.

(Redwood is also grown in plantations in Victoria - see 'Australian Grown Plantation Species').


(Dacrydium cupressinum)

New Zealand

- Softwood. Yellowish or reddish-brown. Moderately durable. Flooring, joinery, turnery, plywood.

Rosewood - see 'Narra'


(Entandrophragma cylindricum)

Sapele Mahogany, African Mahogany, Gold Coast Cedar, Acajou Sapelli, Acajou d'Afrique, Aboudikrou, Penkwa, Tiama, Sipa.

Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda

- Heartwood reddish/purplish-brown. Durable. Decorative veneers, furniture, panelling. "Priority for genetic resource conservation" - IBPGR


(Dillenia spp)


- Hardwood. Reddish brown, white deposit. Moderate durability. Construction, furniture, planking.


(Entandrophragma utile)


Central & West Africa (Ivory Coast Ghana)

- Large hardwood. Reddish-brown, similar to Sapele. Moderate durability. Furniture, veneer. "Priority for conservation" - IBPGR.

Spondias (E)

(Spondias spp)

Aico, Kalata

PNG, Solomons

- Heartwood grey-brown to roseate grey. Non durable. Veneers, mouldings, interior joinery.

Spruce (Te) (C) - as White Spruce

(Picea sitchensis)

Sitka Spruce, White Spruce

Northern US, Canada, Alaska

- Large softwood. Pale pinkish-brown. Not durable. Joinery, boatbuilding.

Taun (C) (E)

(Pommetia pinnata)


Sri Lanka, S-E Asia, Philippines, PNG, Samoa

- Hardwood. Reddish-brown to pale pink. Straight grained; cuts and dresses well. Moderately durable. Furniture, flooring, carving, joinery, boatbuilding, plywood.

Teak (P)

(Tectona spp)

Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, India, PNG

- Heartwood golden-brown. Durable. Shipbuilding, floors, decking, turnery, furniture (indoor and outdoor), stairs, carriage-work.

(NB: Plantation teak available from Java and South America is not recommended. See the info on Teak in Tropical Plantation Timbers; see also TEAKNET in the Alternative Directory under Timber Industry Promotion Groups).

Terminalia (E)

(Terminalia spp)

Red/Brown/Yellow Terminalia


- Large hardwood. Pale brown or yellow-brown. Not durable. Plywood, joinery.

Tulip Wood

(Dalbergia spp)

Rosewood, Bois de Rose, Pinkwood.


- Yellowish to rose-red. Furniture and cabinetmaking. Valuable cabinet timber. Scarce.

Vitex (E)

(Vitex cofassus)

PNG, Solomon Is., Indonesia, Malaysia

- Hardwood. Pale yellow-brown, grey tinge. Durable. Framework, decking, flooring, plywood.

Walnut, New Guinea (E)

(Dracontomelum spp)

PNG Walnut

PNG, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines

- Large hardwood. Grey-brown, darker brown streaks. Moderate durability. Furniture, veneer, panelling, turnery, carving.

Watergum (E)

(Syzygium spp)

New Guinea Satinash, New Guinea Watergum, Asi-toa, Yasiyasi

PNG, Fiji

- Large hardwood. Brown to red-brown. Moderate durability. Framework, joinery, flooring.

Wau Beech (E)

(Elmerillia papuana)

Elmeril, Hui.


- Hardwood. Moderately durable. Furniture, veneer, joinery, turnery, carving


(Dacrydium elatum)


(A) = African origin.

(C) = Certified sources available. (See Certified Timber Available for Import)

(E) = Ecoforestry sources available. (See the Village Development Trust listing under Timber - Uncertified, General, in the Alternative Directory)

(P) = Also reported as being plantation-grown, but no sure way of verifying this for each individual shipment which reaches our shores.

(Te) = Temperate Timber, ie North America / Canada / Alaska (all other species are of tropical origin)


FAO - United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (see under Internet/WWW/Email in the Alternative Directory)

IBPGR - International Board for Genetic Plant Resources

* Wellington Rainforest Action Group says that consumers in New Zealand are being shown furniture labels which state that the 'Shorea' furniture on display was harvested in central Vietnam under full government supervision and control, and that "a huge reforestation program is under way in Vietnam to repair the damage caused both by war and by the methods used by peasant farmers. To this extent an export tax is levied by the Vietnamese on all wooden articles and all proceeds are used in replanting. Through the purchase of this furniture you are supporting reforestation and preventing exploitation of forest areas."

This claim has not yet been verified by any forest or environmental organisation. Please contact the Guide if you are aware of the truth or otherwise of Vietnam's harvest policy.

** The Auro Paint company uses Dammar resin as a binding agent for its paints which comes from the same tree species which has been overexploited to supply Meranti timber. Auro contracts workers from Palembang in Sumatra to extract the resin from trees in forests which loggers have continually tried to buy and clearfell.


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