Teak Tree Facts: Information About Teak Tree Uses And More

View straight up the trunk of a teak tree
(Image credit: Rafiul Huda)

What are teak trees? They are tall, dramatic members of the mint family. The tree’s foliage is red when the leaves first come in but green when they mature. Teak trees produce wood that is known for its durability and beauty. For more teak tree facts and information about teak tree uses, read on.

Teak Tree Facts

Few Americans grow teak trees (Tectona grandis), so it is natural to ask: what are teak trees and where do teak trees grow? Teaks are hardwood trees that grow in the south of Asia, usually in monsoon rainforests, including India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia. They can be found growing throughout that region. However, many native teak forests have vanished due to overlogging.

Teak trees can grow to 150 feet (46 m.) tall and live for 100 years. Teak tree leaves are reddish green and rough to the touch. Teak trees shed their leaves in the dry season and then regrow them when it rains. The tree also bears flowers, very pale blue blossoms arranged in clusters at the branch tips. These flowers produce fruit called drupes.

Teak Tree Growing Conditions

Ideal teak tree growing conditions include a tropical climate with generous daily sunshine. Teak trees also prefer fertile, well-draining soil. For the teak to propagate, it must have insect pollinators to distribute pollen. Generally, this is done by bees.

Teak Tree Uses

The teak is a beautiful tree, but much of its commercial value has been as lumber. Under the scaly brown bark on the trunk of the tree lies the heartwood, a deep, dark gold. It is acclaimed because it can withstand weather conditions and resists decay.

The demand for teak wood is much greater than its supply in nature, so entrepreneurs have established plantations to grow the valuable tree. Its resistance to wood rot and shipworms makes it perfect for building large projects in wet areas, such as bridges, decks, and boats.

Teak is also used to make medicine in Asia. Its astringent and diuretic properties help to limit and reduce swelling.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.