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RED BALAU, BALAU, SAL (Shorea robusta)

Trade Name

Red Balau, Balau, Sal

Scientific Name

Shorea robusta Gaertner f.



Common Names

; Sakwa (Nepal); Sal (India)

Description Of The Tree

Botanical Description

A large deciduous tree, usually gregarious, growing 18-30 m in height and 1.5-2.0 m in girth. The bark is 2.5-5.0 cm thick, rough dark brown with conspicuous vertical furrows, be used for tanning, brown dye and ropes. Tree yield a natural resin (Sal damma

Natural Habitat

S. robusta is the dominant species in sal forest.

Natural Distribution

The trees occur in northern and central India, sub Himalayan region (1200-1500 m) to Nepal and south of the Ganga.

Plantations Available?

Viability of the seed is very short. It seldom germinates two weeks after its collection. The problem of the Sal seedling and the regeneration of some Sal forests come to one's mind.

Non Timber Uses

The wood contains a transition zone which is looks like heartwood. The quality of Sal varies from place to place. The fact is that the anatomical structure of Sal wood varies to a great extent.

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Wood Identification

Anatomic Description Of Wood

Vessels per mm2 5 to 20. Wood diffuse porous. Tyloses common. Tangential diameter of vessel lumina 200 micras or more (large). Vestured pits. Vessel-ray pits reticulate and/or foraminate. Simple perforation plates. Intervessel pits small, 7 micras or less. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty and/or vasicentric. Axial parenchyma aliform. Axial parenchyma in marginal or in seemingly marginal bands. Axial parenchyma bands more than 3 cells wide. 4 to 10 rays per mm (medium). Body ray cells procumbent with one row of upright and/or square marginal cells (Kribs-III).

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


Cites Status


General Wood Description




Heartwood is light brown to brown colored, and turning reddish brown on exposure. Sapwood when fresh is pale white with a brownish tinge, narrow.


Interlocked grain with ribbon bands.


Varies from moderately coarse to coarse.



Natural Durability

The wood, especially heartwood, is very durable. It is not attacked by white ants and fungi for a long time.

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


Internal Growth Stresses


Silica Content

Silica Content: -

Resistance To Impregnation

Sapwood is easy to be penetrated by preservatives, while the heartwood is 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: Vutu can be kiln dried from the green condition without difficulty using the recommended schedule,with some surface checking or slight warp the only problems. Drying Defects: 25 mm board: Kiln drying from green to 12% m.c. requires 4~5 days, reduced to 1 1/2 days after preliminary air drying to 25% m.c..Ahigh humidity stress relief treatment,tentatively 24 hours should follow drying 50 mm stock :Kiln drying from green to 12% m

Recommended Dry Kiln Schedule


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)




High resistant to cut. The wood has known as a difficult timber to saw and to work with. Air-dried timber is more difficult to saw compared than the green one. Red balau is usually easier to work than Balau.

Rotary Veneer Cutting

S. robusta was found to be unsuitable for the production of veneer and plywood.

Sliced Veneer

S. robusta was found to be unsuitable for the production of veneer and plywood.

Blunting Effect



Varies from moderately difficult to difficult. While working with machine picking up of fibers often takes place and it is also difficult to get a smooth surface.




Easy to slightly difficult.




Uncertain but tends to poor.


End Uses Summary

EXTERIOR GENERAL, bridges, poles, rails, HOUSING GENERAL, beams, joists, flooring, frames, FURNITURE AND CABINETS, TOOLS, tool handles, CONTAINERS, chemical storage, truck flooring, NAVAL CONSTRUCTION, boats, OTHER AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, wheel

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