Botanical Name:Agathis dammara
Species: A. dammara
*Agathis alba (Koord.) Warb
*Agathis celebica (Koord.) Warb
*Agathis loranthifolia Salisb.
*Dammara loranthifolia (Salisb.) Link
*Pinus dammara Lamb.
Common Names: Amboyna pine or Almaciga (almasiga). Almaciga, baltic, saleng (Philippines); Damar Malolo, Damar Nunu (Celebes); Kalline, Kessi, Oeneela (Moluccas); Mountain agathis, Amboina pitch tree; Damar minyak, Sanum, Tesanum (Pah.); Celebes kauri, Indonesian kauri (Whitmore 1980, Silba 1986, Corner 1988).
Habitat: Agathis dammara is native to the Philippines and to Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, and the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. It grows in mountain forests. Scattered in lowland rain forests at elevations up to 1,200 metres, though in the Philippines it is reported to grow at elevations up to 2,100 metres.
Agathis dammara is an evergreen conifer tree growing to 60 m tall and 1.8 m dbh. Mature trees follow the usual Agathis model of a long clear bole with a broad emergent crown of large rigid first-order branches. The authorities differ in opinion about the bark, calling it gray, red-gray, light brown, or black, finely dimpled to thinly scaly or with many resin blisters, or rough, exfoliating thus with few epiphytes. Leaves sub-opposite, thick, coriaceous, light to dark green, highly variable even on a single tree. On young trees lanceolate, acuminate, 3×7 cm to 3.5×13 cm. On adult trees long-oval with a rounded apex, 4-8×1.5-3 cm, with a 1-8 mm petiole. Pollen cones axillary, solitary on a stout 3-4 peduncle, at anthesis small cylinders with straight sides, surface firm, smooth; 6-8 mm diameter × 12-20 mm; ultimately becoming dark brown, slightly flexuous cylinders, 10×30-40 mm, with the surface loose; basal bracts form a loose, often squarish cupule, less than, equal to, or exceeding cone width, rarely with 2 bracts enlarged, leafy, 10×30 mm. Microsporophylls at anthesis are imbricate, to 2 mm across, without a distinctly demarcated thin margin; edge erose; head in adaxial view round, 1.5-2 mm across, becoming 2.5×1.5 mm in the largest cones; thick in the center, tapering gradually to thin edges. Female cone globular or ovoid, 5.5-12 cm long by 5-7.8 cm wide; cone scales nearly triangular, upper corners of scales are broadly rounded and thin. Seed subovoid, to 1.5 cm long, one wing to 1.3 cm long, another much shorter (Whitmore 1980, Silba 1986).
The most similar species is A. borneensis; indeed the two were synonymized by de Laubenfels (1988), with which no one else has agreed. In portions of their range where the two species coincide, accurate identification requires the pollen cones, which of course are not present on (or beneath) all trees. When they are immature, the pollen cones of A. borneensis are rather globose and become cylindrical by elongation, while those of A. dammara are cylindrical but still small and retain their proportions as they grow. At maturity, the microsporophylls of A. borneensis are much larger than those of A. dammara and have a thin, lighter-colored upper margin
A plant of the subhumid highlands in the tropics, where it is found at elevations from 300 – 1,600 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 28 – 34°c, but can tolerate 12 – 38°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,500 – 3,500mm, but tolerates 2,000 – 4,000mm. Older trees grow well in sunny positions, but need the shady, sheltered conditions of the woodland when small. Plants can grow on a variety of soils, including podzolized sands (in heath forest), ultrabasic soils, limestone, igneous and sedimentary rocks. The root system is sensitive to a lack of oxygen and the species does not tolerate waterlogging. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 6.5, tolerating 5 – 7.5. Seedling plants need shade, and growth is slow during the first year. Later, when released from competition from weeds, growth is more rapid. Trees can commence producing cones when about 15 years old, though viable seeds are not usually produced before they are 25 years old.
The trunk richly contains the famous dammar resin, which is widely used in industry and medicine. The resin is graded into hard, semi-hard and soft. It is used for varnishing enamels and interior work. The resin used to be an important component of varnish and was used in the production of linoleum. Much of the quality of the resin depends upon the age of the product since it can be obtained both from living trees or from the soil in semi-fossil condition.
Harvesting of the resin commences when the bole is around 25cm in diameter (approx 20 years old). Triangular cuts (becoming circular with age) are arranged in vertical rows around the trunk. The cuts are several centimetres wide at first, but become enlarged at every tapping and eventually become holes of 15 – 20cm in depth and width. The average number of holes for a tree about 30 metres tall and 60 – 80cm in diameter is 9 – 11 in each of 4 – 5 vertical rows. For the higher holes, the tapper climbs the tree supported by a rattan belt and using the lower holes as footholds.
The exuded resin is allowed to dry on the tree before it is collected. The frequency with which the tree is visited to refreshen the cut varies from once a week to once a month, depending on how far the tree is from the village. Tapping can continue for 30 years.
The scaly, fibrous bark is burnt to deter mosquitoes.
The heartwood is a pale cream, golden brown, to dark reddish or yellowish brown if resinous; it is usually not distinct from the sapwood. The wood is lustrous; the grain mainly straight; texture fine and uniform; generally without distinctive odour or taste. It is generally not durable, vulnerable to termite attack and prone to blue stain. It works easily with hand and machine tools, finishes with a clean smooth surface; has good nailing and screwing properties; good veneer peeling characteristics; paints and polishes well; easy to glue. It is used for a range of purposes, including vats and tanks, patternmaking, millwork, boatbuilding, furniture components, face veneers, shingles and pencil slats.
It is used as a general purpose softwood for construction, boat masts, joinery, household utensils, matches, veneer, packaging, moulding, plywood and pulpwood.
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