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PENAGA (Mesua ferrea)

Trade Name


Scientific Name

Mesua ferrea L.



Common Names

Legno ferro de l`india (Italy); Mesua (India); Gangaw (Myanmar); Ceylon ironwood (Sri Lanka); Penaga (Malaysia); Nagasari (Indonesia); Bunnag (Thailand); Indian rose chesnut (United Kingdom); Vap (Vietnam); Panagua (Malaysia); Lengapus (Malaysia); Bosneak (Cambodia)

Scientific Name Synonyms

Mesua nagassarium (Burm. f.) Kosterm.; Calophyllum nagassarium Burm. f.

Description Of The Tree

Botanical Description

It is a medium-sized tree up to 30 m tall. The bole is straight, branchless for up to 20 m, up to 65 cm in diameter, fluted or with small buttresses at base.

Natural Habitat

Mesua ferrea is common in evergreen forests, from the sea level up to 500 m.

Natural Distribution

It is distributed in the forests of India and Ceylon and extending into Indonesia, Malaya, and Cambodia.

Plantations Available?

This species is planted as an ornamental or shade tree in the Malaysian region.

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Wood Identification

Anatomic Description Of Wood

Vessels exclusively solitary (over 90%). Colored deposits in heartwood vessels. Tyloses common. Vessels per mm2 5 to 20. Occasionally helical thickenings in vessel elements present. Simple perforation plates. Vessel-ray pits coarse throughout the ray cell. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty and/or vasicentric. Prismatic crystals in chambered axial parenchyma cells and/or in fibers. 5 to 8 cells per parenchyma strand. Axial parenchyma in narrow bands on lines up to 3 cells wide. 4 to 10 rays per mm (medium). Rays exclusively uniseriate. Body ray cells procumbent with mostly 2 to 4 rows of upright and/or square marginal cells (Kribs-II). Fibers with simple to minutely bordered pits.

  • Wood Macro Photo Tangential Plane
  • Wood Micro Photo Of Transversal Section


Cites Status


General Wood Description


No particular smell is reported.


The sapwood is grayish brown, clearly distinct. The heartwood is reddish brown with purple tinge, darkening to deep red-brown.

COLOR INDEX (1=Black, 7=Light yellow,white)



It is mostly straight, occasionally interlocked grain is reported.


The texture varies from fine to medium, with tyloses.

Natural Durability

It is durable and rarely affected by fungi and insects, but not durable in exposed situations.

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


Resistance To Impregnation

This species is reported to be impermeable.

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: Air seasoning is quite rapid. Boards 25 mm thick can be air dried in 2 to 2.5 months. Drying Defects: Slight bowing, twisting and some end checking are reported. Staining may also occur. Kiln Schedules: The wood can be kiln dried rapidly, but a mild kiln schedule is recommended.

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)


Janka hardness (side) 12%MC (kgf)




Sawing is only possible when fresh. Powerful equipment is required for cutting.

Blunting Effect

Despite its hardness, it is considered to have a slight blunting effect on the cutting elements.


It is easy to plane.


This species is easy to mold.


Boring of this species is reported to be easy.


Pre-bore is needed.


This species is reported to take a smooth finish.

Substitute Species

Suitable substitute for African Tali and Azobe, South American Basralocus.


End Uses Summary

HOUSING GENERAL, beams, flooring, frames, panelling, FURNITURE AND CABINETS, cabinets, TOOLS, tool handles, agricultural tools, CONTAINERS, truck bodies, truck flooring, NAVAL CONSTRUCTION, boats, boat hulls, boat fins, boat deck, boat oars, port pillar, OTHER AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

General Housing
  • 10 - Silica in Timbers
  • 11 - Prospect: The wood database
  • 14 - Handbook of Hardwoods
  • 16 - Woods of the World
  • 18 - W3TROPICOS Missouri Botanical Garden
Furniture Cabinets
  • 21 - Tropical timbers of the world. Part III-Southeast Asian and Oceanian Species.
  • 24 - Empire Timbers
  • 42 - Utilización Industrial de Nuevas Especies Forestales en el Perú.
Tool Handles
  • 43 - Maderas de Bolivia (Características y Usos de 55 Maderas Tropicales)
Agricultural Tools
  • 44 - Atlas of Peruvian Woods
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.
Boat Hulls
  • 57 - Estadísticas de Aprovechamiento, Exportación y comercialización Nacional de Productos Forestales
Boat Fins
  • 58 - Guía de Árboles de Bolivia
Boat Decking
  • 59 - Programa Nacional de uso Sostenible de los Bosques e Incremento a las Exportaciones.
Boat Oars
  • 60 - Amazonian Timbers, Characteristics and Utilization Volume II; Curuá-Una Experimental Forest Station
Port Pillar
  • 61 - Manual de Diseño para Maderas del Grupo Andino
Other & Musical Instruments
  • 63 - Madeiras do Brazil II

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