Karas

INTRODUCTION

The Standard Malaysian Name for the timber of Aquilaria spp. (Thymelaeaceae). Vernacular names applied include kekaras (Peninsular Malaysia) and tengkaras (Peninsular Malaysia) for the normal wood and aloes wood (Peninsular Malaysia) and eagle wood (Peninsular Malaysia) for the diseased wood. Only one species is of importance, viz. A. malaccensis. The sapwood is not differentiated from the heartwood, which is creamy white in colour. The timber can occasionally produces some diseased wood, which is resin-impregnated and fragrant. This diseased wood is dark brown to black in colour and is heavy and hard. The commercial name for this wood is GAHARU. It is much sought after as an incense and folk medicine.

Also known as Chan krasna (Cambodia); Agarwood (India); Alas, Garu, Ingkaras, Kaju alim, Kaju gaharu, Tanduk and Tengkaras (Indonesia); and Mai Kotsana (Laos).


DENSITY

The timber is soft and light with a density of 335-400 kg/m3 air dry.


NATURAL DURABILITY

The timber is non-durable and is liable to stain easily by sapstain fungi.


PRESERVATIVE TREATMENT

The timber can be easily treated with preservatives.


TEXTURE

Texture is fine but uneven due to the presence of islands of included phloem. Grain is straight.


STRENGTH PROPERTIES

The timber falls into Strength Group D (Burgess, 1958).


MACHINING PROPERTIES

It is easy to resaw and cross-cut. Planing is easy and the planed surface is moderately smooth to rough, especially in the tangential boards.


USES

The timber is suitable for packing boxes and crates, plywood, disposable chopsticks, tooth picks, pencil, ladies shoe soles and temporary light construction. The diseased wood is much sought after as an incense and folk medicine.


REFERENCES

  1. Burgess, H. J. 1958. Strength Grouping of Malaysian Timbers. Malayan Forest Service Trade Leaflet No. 25. The Malaysian Timber Industry Board and Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. 15 pp.
  2. Menon, P. K. B. 1986. Uses of Some Malaysian Timbers. Revised by Lim, S. C. Timber Trade Leaflet No. 31. The Malaysian Timber Industry Board and Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. 48 pp.
  3. 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.