Lithocarpus megacarpus is an evergreen tree that can grow from 9 - 30 metres tall. The straight, cylindrical bole is up to 50cm in diameter, it can be free of branches for 9 - 20 metres[
The tree is a major exportable timber in New Guinea, where it is harvested from the wild on a commercial basis.
Australasia - New Guinea
Forests, usually on steep slopes; at elevations from 1,200 - 1,900 metres[
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In the tropics, the genus Lithocarpus is generally found in lowland to montane forests, usually below elevations of 2,000 metres occasionally to 3,000 metres. The genus usually grows in areas with year-round rainfall, disliking dry seasons.
Young plants usually grow sucessfully in the shade of woodland, but older trees like a more sunny position. Lithocarpus species are mainly found in well-drained soils, often growing on slopes; they tend to be tolerant of a range of soil textures and to prefer an acid to neutral pH.
The depressed-subglobose, rarely ovoid seed is 20 - 35mm long and 40 - 50mm wide with a thick, woody shell[
Although we have no specific information for this species, the seeds of all the species of Lithocarpus are more or less edible and most if not all of them will have been used for food in times of shortage, when better foods were not available.
The seed is usually cooked before eating, though it can also be eaten raw. It can be eaten whole, though it is more commonly dried, then ground into a powder and used as a thickening in stews etc or mixed with cereals for making bread.
The main disadvantage of the seed is that it is often rich in tannins, making it bitter and astringent. These tannins can be largely removed by soaking the seeds in water then throwing the water away. The process should be repeated until the seed no longer tastes bitter.
The tree is a major exportable timber[
No further information is given, but the following is a general description of Lithocarpus timber from trees growing in southeast Asia:-
The heartwood is yellow-brown, red-brown or dark red-brown; it is not always clearly demarcated from the lighter-coloured sapwood. The texture is rather coarse and uneven; the grain fairly straight but sometimes interlocked; there is a true oak-line silver figure prominent on the radial surface. The wood is strong to very strong; hard to very hard; moderately heavy to heavy; moderately durable and very difficult to treat. It seasons fairly slowly, without any defects except for some staining, slight bowing and end-checking; shrinkage is high. It is easy to saw when green, but slightly difficult to work when dried; planing is easy and the planed surface is smooth; turned wood has a rough surface when finished. Nailing properties are poor.
A medium hardwood, it is suitable for medium to heavy construction under cover, furniture making, interior finishing, panelling, parquet flooring etc[
]. It is used locally for purposes such as fence post, mining props, shingles, boat building, and for making tool handles, rice pounder, poles for carts etc[
The wood makes a good fuel and can be used to make charcoal[
Seed - it quickly loses viability if it is allowed to dry out. It can be stored moist and cool, but is best sown as soon as it is ripe in an outdoor seed bed, though it must be protected from mice, squirrels etc. Small quantities of seed can be sown in deep pots in a cold frame. Plants produce a deep taproot and need to be planted out into their permanent positions as soon as possible, in fact seed sown in situ will produce the best trees[
]. Trees should not be left in a nursery bed for more than 2 growing seasons without being moved or they will transplant very badly.
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