The Historical Popularity of the Shorea Tree

Shorea would be widely recognised as the most valuable industry hardwood in the world, bar the influence of teak, which shares its many great properties.

While teak has enjoyed a great sustained period of popularity, including the Danish Modern style of the 50’s and 60’s, shorea has been quietly fulfilling the needs of construction specialists across the globe. The woods are remarkably similar, except in the pricing category where teak will generally cost a little more.

Shorea has been providing for many years a great reliable source of hardwood blessed with the flexibility of being suitable for several different industries. Matched with incredible strength and durability, the crucial factor which makes shorea an economically viable solution is its plentiful existence.

With literally hundreds of species, shorea hardwoods are abundant in nature and can be found across much of South East Asia. They remain a key export for the economy and have long since provided poorer nations such as Indonesia a highly sought after method of income.

There are strict regulations regarding the harvesting of shorea. To be granted permission to remove the tree, it has to be larger than 20 inches in diameter otherwise the harvesting is deemed illegal. Thanks to the sanctioning, shorea is not an endangered hardwood. In contrast to teak, which is reasonably limited in preservation, several Asian countries host a heavy population of shorea trees. The demand for the wood is easier to satisfy and this in turn caters for slightly lower prices. That said, shorea is still very valuable and one of the more expensive hardwoods on the market.

So what are the historical benefits of this ancient tree?

Just ask the many boat manufacturers who swear by it. Shorea is a magnificent choice for the decking of a ship. Its incredible resistance to wear and tear have seen it grow to become one of the very favourite industry choices. No other hardware can match up to the sheer mechanical prowess of shorea. The sturdy nature of most of these hardwoods provides excellent durability and they’ve been exported out to Europe for mass use on sea vessels. This has been commonplace not just for decades, but for centuries. The tradition shows no sign of relenting and while shorea is still widely available, it will continue to be very much the industry standard bearer for construction.

Despite the historical value of shorea as a great timber for construction, there are still plenty of other ways to utilize the excellent properties that it has. There are various different sections to the shorea species and if you ever see an advertisement for Meranti, Lauan or Balau, you’re actually looking at a native shorea tree.

Of course, a wide scattering of different properties makes shorea hard to class. But for centuries, it’s provided several great services to the people of South East Asia.

During traditional Hindu ceremonies, for example, the resin from sal – another shorea native – will be burned as incense. The gesture is a throwback to ancient past when settlers used the same shorea trees to their benefit. Perhaps more importantly from a cultural perspective, the resin is also commonly used as an ointment for terrible skin problems and conditions such as psoriasis or pityriasis. Locals are never-ending in their quest to put the shorea tree’s natural properties to good use as a way to fight disease and illness.

Natural concoctions are an immensely popular derivative of eastern culture and the shorea tree, like many others, has a rich role to play in that history.

Shorea trees also provide a rich catalogue of natural oils. The broken down resin can be manufactured in to several household products such as candles, soaps and other novelties. They can be altered and moulded in to a chemical substitute for cocoa butter and it seems that there’s no end to the benefits of manufacturing the hardwood. Even today, there are still new usages being found for the ancient shorea.

Throughout the time that harvesting has been documented for the tree, shorea has been sold on to many different industries. The degrees of success vary quite substantially. While teak has long since been considered one of the most desirable household hardwoods, shorea has only just recently developed its rapidly growing following as a source for vintage furniture.

For all of its natural flourish and historical use, the scope for retail success as a fashionable wood is what marks shorea down as one of the most widely sought hardwoods in the world today.