Rasamala

INTRODUCTION

The common Malaysian name for Altingia excelsa (Hamamelidaceae). No other vernacular name have been recorded and only a single species, A. excelsa, is represented in Peninsular Malaysia. The heartwood is dark pinkish, red or reddish brown, gradually merging into the yellowish or reddish brown sapwood.

Also known as Jutili (India); Mala, Mandung, Rasamala and Tulasan (Indonesia); Sop (Laos); Nantayok (Myanmar); and Hom, Satu and Sob (Thailand).


DENSITY

The timber is medium to heavy in weight with a density of 610-900 kg/m3 air dry.


NATURAL DURABILITY

The timber is moderately durable to durable but the timber from the plantation indicates a lesser durability.


TEXTURE

Texture is fine and even. Grain is straight to slightly interlocked.


MACHINING PROPERTIES

The timber is easy to work and shows very good results in planing, boring, mortising, turning and sanding.


AIR DRYING

Altingia dries slowly and with considerable defects such as cupping, twisting and checking. The air drying of 20 mm thick boards take about 5 months whereas 30 mm thick boards require almost 7 months.


SHRINKAGE

The rate of shrinkage is high. From green to oven dry, radial shrinkage averages 5.6%, while tangential shrinkage averages 11.6%. Thus, the timber must be dried carefully and stacked properly.


USES

Rasamala is regarded as the most valuable timber in West Java. Because of its ability to form very long branchless boles, it was favoured for frames of bridges and columns and beams for buildings. Other uses include power transmission and telephone lines poles, railway sleepers, vehicle bodies, boat and ship building, flooring (heavy traffic), decking, rafters and plywood. The bole yields an aromatic resin, called "getah malai", which is collected and used as an incense.


REFERENCE

  1. Wong, T. M. 1982. A Dictionary of Malaysian Timbers. Revised by Lim, S. C. & Chung, R. C. K. Malayan Forest Records No. 30. Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. 201 pp.