The colour can be heartwood yellowish-brown or orange-brown when first cut, turning darker with age to brown or deep reddish brown. Sapwood white, pale yellow or buff and sharply differentiated from heartwood.


  • Species Name: Kwila / Merbau

  • Botantical Name(s) : Intsia bijuga (formerly Afzelia bijuga syn. Afzelia australis), I. palembanica. Family name: Leguminosae.

  • Localised name(s): Johnstone River teak, scrub mahogany (North Queensland), merbau (Malaysia), vesi (Fiji), Moluccan ironwood (United Kingdom), go-nux (Vietnam), ipil (Philippines), hintzy (Madagascar), melila, bendora (Papua New Guinea), lumpho, lum-paw, makamong (Thailand), kivoli, vuvula (Solomon Islands).

  • Size and location information: A large hardwood attaining 40 m in height, with a trunk of 0.6 m diameter. Often a bushy tree forming a spreading canopy.

    Occurs in the Johnstone River and Daintree areas of North Queensland, Malaysia, Fiji, Vietnam, Philippines, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Samoa.

  • Density: 830 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.2 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

  • Shrinkage: 1.2% Radial, 2.6% tangential

  • Durability: In ground: Class 3 Above ground: Class 1

  • Lyctids Susceptibility: Yes

  • Termite Resistance (AS3660): Yes

  • Strength Group: S2/SD3

  • Availability: Merbau plentiful. Kwila getting difficult.

  • Uses: Engineering. Cross arms, bridge building, piles, sleepers, posts, wharfing, mining timbers.

  • Workability : 1. Machining. Working properties variable. Cuts cleanly but may have a blunting or gumming effect on cutting edges. Cutting angle should be reduced to 20 degrees when planing quarter-sawn stock. Turns well. 2. Fixing. Kwila tends to split unless pre-bored, but holds fastenings well. 3. Gluing. Glues satisfactorily except with casein glues. 4. Finishing. It takes paint, stain and polish well, but gum bleed-through or oily patches may affect the finish.

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