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Scientific name

Calophyllum spp. principally C. vitiense, C. leucocarpum, C. kajewskii, C. paludosum. Family: Guttiferae

Local names

Bitangor, penaga (Malaysia), bitangur (Indonesia), vintanina (Madagascar), damanu (Fiji), island cedar, kalofilum, bush calophyllum (PNG), gwarogwaro, guoria, oleole, ba´ula (Solomon Is), canoe tree (Andaman Islands), galba, galaba (West Indies), poon (India, Myannmar), kathing (Thailand), cong (Vietnam).

Description and natural occurrence

There are over 100 species of Calophyllum. They are large hardwoods attaining 30 m in height and a diameter of 0.8 m, rarely buttressed (with the exception of Papua New Guinea species), but occasionally with stilt roots. The shallow grooved outer bark is grey or white and decorticates in large thin strips. Trees are fast growing and often gregarious due to natural regeneration.

They grow in widely different habitats from ridges in mountain forests to coastal swamps, lowland forests, and even coral cays.

Species of the genus marketed under the trade name calophyllum occur from Madagascar, India, throughout South-East Asia, across the Pacific Islands and also in South America and the West Indies.

Four species of Calophyllum occur in North Queensland rainforests, but are marketed under different trade names.

Wood appearance

Colour. Sapwood varies between species from pale yellow, yellow-brown often with pink tints, to orange. It is sometimes distinct from the heartwood, depending on the species. Heartwood is pink red, or red brown.

Grain. Grain is interlocked, wavy or irregular, producing streaky or ribbon figure on the radial face. Backsawn boards commonly produce a zigzag type figure.

Wood properties

Density. Air-dry density varies considerably between species. The range is between 540 and 900 kg/m3, and 640 kg/m3 is used for reference purposes.

Strength groups. S5 unseasoned; SD6 seasoned.

Stress grades . F5, F7, F8, F11, (unseasoned), F7, F8, F11, F14, (seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2082:2000, Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes.

Joint groups. J4 unseasoned; JD3 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. 4.4% (tangential); 2.5% (radial) for C. kajewskii, Solomon Is. 5.3% (tangential); 2.8% (radial) for C. papuanum, PNG. 5.1% (tangential); 3.3% (radial) for C.vitiense, Fiji.

Unit shrinkage. 0.23% (tangential); 0.16% (radial) for C. kajewskii, Solomon Islands. 0.30% (tangential); 0.23% (radial) for C. papuanum, PNG. 0.23% (tangential); 0.19% (radial) for C. vitiense, Fiji.

Durability above-ground. Class 4 - life expectancy less than 7 years.

Durability in-ground. Class 4 - life expectancy less than 5 years.

Lyctine susceptibility. Untreated sapwood susceptible to lyctine borer attack.

Termite resistantance. Not resistant.

Preservation. Sapwood readily accepts preservative impregnation.

Seasoning. The timber is difficult to season and the use of weights, end sealing and close sticker intervals are recommended to minimise degrade.

Hardness. Firm (rated 4 on a 6 class scale) in relation to indentation and ease of working with hand tools.

Machining. Calophyllum saws and machines well, though irregular, interlocked grain may make finishing difficult. Irregular grain may show up in woolly patches.

Fixing. Screws well, but nailing properties are relatively poor. Pre-drilling is recommended to prevent splitting.

Gluing. Can be satisfactorily bonded using standard procedures.

Finishing. Filler may be required but calophyllum finishes well, taking stains, polish or paint.


Construction. Has been used in general construction as flooring, framing, plywood.

Decorative. Cabinet work, mouldings, joinery, panelling, turnery and veneer.

Others. Boat building, ribs, masts, spars, oars and canoes.

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Pale yellowish pink not easily distinguished from heartwood, depending on species.

Heartwood. Pink red to reddish-brown.

Texture. Coarse, open and uneven. Grain interlocked or wavy.

Wood structure

Vessels. Large to medium size, solitary, arranged in oblique flares. Vessel lines very prominent on dressed surfaces, darker than surrounding tissue.

Parenchyma. Abundant, paratracheal, widely spaced concentric bands, visible to the unaided eye.

Rays. Very fine.

Other features

Burning splinter test. A match size splinter burns to ash.

Further reading

Hopewell, G (ed.) 2006, 'Construction timbers in Queensland: properties and specifications for satisfactory performance of construction timbers in Queensland, Class 1 and Class 10 buildings', books 1 and 2, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.

Ilic, J 1991, 'CSIRO atlas of hardwoods', Crawford House Press, Bathurst, Australia.

Standards Australia, 2000, 'AS 2082-2000: Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes', Standards Australia.