Croixia hispida (H.J.Lam) Baehni
Palaquium hispidum is a tree that can grow up to 50 metres tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for its wood, which is traded under the name 'Nyatoh', and for its latex, which is used as a gutta percha[
Palaquium hispidum has a large range, but deforestation and harvesting the tree for its timber have led to a decline in the population. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2018)[
Southeast Asia - Peninsula Thailand, Malaysia, western Indonesia (Sumatra, Kalimantan)
Lowland mixed dipterocarp forest[
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A latex obtained from the stem is used as a gutta percha[
Gutta-percha is a natural latex obtained from the sap of the tree. Allowing this fluid to evaporate and coagulate in the sun produces a hard, durable, non-brittle but non-elastic latex which can be made flexible again when heated to temperatures over 50°c, and then retains any form given while cooling. Prior to the advent of synthetic materials, gutta-percha had a wide range of uses - most particularly as an insulating material for electrical wiring and for underwater telegraph wires, a purpose for which it is very well suited since it is bio-inert and so is not attacked by marine plants or animals. Gutta-percha can be moulded into any shape and has been used to make items such as ornate furniture, pistol grips, acid-resistant receptacles and ‘mourning’ jewellery, where its dark colour was an advantage. It has been widely used as the core of golf balls and is still used in modern dentistry where its bio-inertness makes it ideal as a temporary filling for teeth and as a filling material inside tooth fillings[
]. It is used locally for fixing tools into their handles[
We do not have any more specific information on the wood of this species, but it belongs to a group of timbers collectively called 'Nyatoh'[
]. The general description of nyatoh wood is as follows:-
The heartwood is a dark pink to a red-brown; it is clearly demarcated from the 4 - 9cm wide band of lighter-coloured sapwood. The texture is medium; the grain straight or interlocked, sometimes wavy. The wood is light in weight, soft to moderately hard; strong, somewhat durable, being resistant to dry wood borers, moderately resistant to fungi but susceptible to termites. It seasons somewhat slowly, with a high risk of checking and distortion; once dry it is stable in service. There is a very variable content of silica according to the species, but in general the wood has a high blunting effect so stellite-tipped and tungsten-carbide tools are recommended; nailing and screwing are good, but require pre-boring; gluing is correct. The wood has a range of applications, including for high class furniture and cabinet making, solid doors, panelling, joinery, parquet flooring, boat decking, light carpentry, turnery, moulding and veneer[
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