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MILO (Thespesia populnea)

Trade Name


Scientific Name

Thespesia populnea (L.) Sol. ex Corrêa



Common Names

Umbrella tree; Tulip tree; Suriya portia; Seaside mahoe; Santa maria; Puvarasam; Puvarachu; Pursong; Purasia; Portia pursa; Poris; Poresh; Porassu; Poovarasu; Parsipu; Parash; Majagua de Florida; Kavarachu; Kabaoui; Hurvashi; Gangarava; Fref; Faux bois de rose; Emajaguilla; Eijan; Dumbla; Daleni; Cork tree; Clemon; Chilanthi; Cheelanthi; Catalpa; Bugari; Bois de rose; Bhendi; Bendi gangareni; Bebaru; Baru; Asha; Baru laut (Indonesia); Milo; Salimuli (Indonesia); Pacific rose-wood; Portia tree; Po kamat phrai (Thailand); Baru-baru (Malaysia); Banalo (Philippines)

Scientific Name Synonyms

Malvaviscus populneus (L.) Gaertn.; Hibiscus populneus L.; Hibiscus populifolius Salisb.; Hibiscus blumei Kuntze; Hibiscus bacciferus Blume; Bupariti populnea (L.) Rothm.

Description Of The Tree

Botanical Description

It is a small tree to 20 m tall, with rather dense crown. The bark is smooth, becoming rugged with deep fissures.

Natural Habitat

Thespesia populnea is found scattered or rarely gregariously on sandy and rocky coasts in beach forests.

Natural Distribution

It is well distributed throughout the South East Asia, mainly occurring along sheltered seashores.

Plantations Available?

It is described as a pantropic species, occasionally planted as a shade tree.

Non Timber Uses

The bark is reported to have significant tannin contents. Extracts of this species have significant anti-malarial activity.

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Wood Identification

Anatomic Description Of Wood

Wood diffuse porous. Vessels of two distinct diameter classes, wood not ring-porous. Occasionally vessel clusters common. Tangential diameter of vessel lumina 100 micras or less (very small). Colored deposits in heartwood vessels. Vessels per mm2 5 to 20. Simpl Axial parenchyma in marginal or in seemingly marginal bands. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse and/or diffuse in aggregates. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty and/or vasicentric. Axial parenchyma storied. Two cells per parenchyma strand. 3 to 4 cells per 4 to 10 rays per mm (medium). Rays storied. Larger rays more than 4 seriate. Sheath cells. Body ray cells procumbent with mostly 2 to 4 rows of upright and/or square marginal cells (Kribs-II). Body ray cells procumbent with one row of upright and/or square mar Fibers very thin walled. Fibers with simple to minutely bordered pits.


Cites Status


General Wood Description


The sapwood is pale brown, occasionally with red marks. The heartwood is clearly demarcated, dark chocolate or reddish, darkening on exposure.


The grain is shallowly interlocked.


Texture is mostly fine to medium.

Natural Durability

It is resistant to insect attack.

Natural durability index (1= Very high durability, 7=Vey low durability)


Wood Physical Properties

Basic Density or Specific Gravity (O.D. weight/vol. green) (g/cm³)


Air-dry Density (Weight and volume at 12%MC) (g/cm³)


Total shrinkage Tangential (Saturated to 0%MC) (%)


Total shrinkage Radial (Saturated to 0%MC) (%)


Drying Defects

Ease of Drying: Drying is rather slow and sometimes difficult to perform. Drying Defects: Risks of distortions.

Dimensional stability ratio (Total Tangential Shrinkage %/Total Radial Shrinkage %)


Wood Chemical Properties

Wood Mechanical Properties

Bending Strength (MOR),12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Stiffness (MOE) 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Compression parallel to fiber 12%MC (kgf/cm²)




Sawing of this species is easy.


This species is easy to machine.




Gluing properties are rated as fair to poor.


It is easy to finish.

Response To Hand Tools

It works well with hand tools despite the presence of interlocked grain.


End Uses Summary

HOUSING GENERAL, flooring, FURNITURE AND CABINETS, cabinets, TURNING, cutlery, SPORTS, golf polo clubs, CONTAINERS, truck bodies, truck flooring, NAVAL CONSTRUCTION, boats, OTHER AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, handicrafts, moldings

General Housing
  • 10 - Silica in Timbers
  • 14 - Handbook of Hardwoods
Furniture Cabinets
  • 21 - Tropical timbers of the world. Part III-Southeast Asian and Oceanian Species.
  • 24 - Empire Timbers
  • 30 - Embassy of Honduras in Japan
Knife Handles
  • 33 - Embassy of Gabon in Japan
  • 38 - Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation 1998-ITTO
Club Golfpolo
  • 39 - Internet
Truck Body
  • 53 - Timbers of the New World
Truck Flooring
  • 54 - Bulletin of the Government Forest Experiment Station N.157: Identification of Tropical Woods
  • 55 - Tropical Timber Atlas of Latin America
  • 56 - Manual de Identificación de Especies Forestales de la Subregión Andina.
Other & Musical Instruments
  • 63 - Madeiras do Brazil II
  • 66 - Maderas latinoamericanas. VII. Caracteristicas anatomicas. propiedades fisicomecanicas, de secado, y tratabilidad de la madera juvenil de Cordia alliodora (Ruiz & Pav. Oken.)
  • 79 - Padronização da Nomenclatura Comercial Brasileira das Madeiras Tropicais Amazônicas, Sugestão

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