Intsia bijuga

Intsia bijuga (commonly known as Johnstone River teak, Pacific teak and scrub mahogany[3]) is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, native to the Indo-Pacific. It ranges from Tanzania and Madagascar east through India and Queensland, Australia to the Pacific islands of Fiji and Samoa.[3] It grows to around 50 metres (160 feet) tall with a highly buttressed trunk. It inhabits mangrove forests. Intsia bijuga differ from Intsia palembanica in the number of leaflets that make up their compound leaves.[4]

Intsia bijuga
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Intsia
I. bijuga
Binomial name
Intsia bijuga
  • Afzelia bijuga A.Gray
  • Afzelia cambodiensis Hance
  • Afzelia retusa Kurz
  • Eperua decandra Blanco
  • Intsia amboinensis DC.
  • Intsia cambodiensis (Hance) Pierre
  • Intsia madagascariensis DC.
  • Intsia moelebei Vieill.
  • Intsia retusa (Kurz) Kuntze
  • Intsia tashiroi Hayata
  • Jonesia monopetala Hassk.
  • Jonesia triandra Roxb.
  • Macrolobium amboinense Hassk.
  • Macrolobium bijugum Colebr.
  • Outea bijuga (Colebr.) DC.
  • Pahudia hasskarliana Miq.
  • Tamarindus intsia Spreng.

The tree has a variety of common names including ipil and kwila.[5] In the Philippines, it also known in some areas as taal.[6]


The bark and leaves of the ipil are used in traditional medicines. The tree's timber, called kwila, is a very durable and termite-resistant wood, making it a highly valued material for flooring and other uses. The wood can also be used to extract a dye. The tree can contain a "gold" fleck that runs through the grain, considered to be attractive by some. Due to extensive logging of the tree, it is endangered in many places in Southeast Asia, and almost extinct in some.[7] Extensive amounts were purchased for the venue of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, which is the largest importer of the wood.[8] The wood is used for flooring in U.S. and European markets where it is commonly sold under different names. Both licensed and unlicensed mills harvest the wood.

Illegal logging

According to Greenpeace large amounts of ipil timber sourced from illegal logging is being imported into China where there are lax import rules. Greenpeace are targeting users in Western countries in order to halt the trade in ipil wood. Greenpeace claims that at the current rate of logging the tree will be wiped out within 35 years.[8]

In New Zealand, where the ipil wood is known as kwila, attempts have been made to stop it from being imported. In 2008 retailers were divided in whether the sale of kwila should be banned. Jim Anderton, who was the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry at that time, did not support a ban and instead he left it up to consumer choice.[9]


Intsia bijuga, locally known as ifit, is the official tree of the United States territory of Guam.


  1. "Intsia bijuga". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 1998: e.T32310A9694485. 1998. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1998.RLTS.T32310A9694485.en.
  2. "Intsia bijuga". International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS). Retrieved 2016-11-15 via The Plant List.
  3. "Intsia bijuga". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  4. Tropical Legumes: Resources for the Future : Report of an Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for International Development, Commission on International Relations, National Research Council. National Academies. 1979. p. 216. NAP:14318. Intsia bijuga and Intsia palembanica differ mainly in the number of leaflets that make up their compound leaves. Both are native to tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia and the islands of the southwest Pacific.
  5. "Tree Conservation Information Service". UNEP-WCMC. 2007-09-05. Archived from the original on 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  6. "Ipil, taal". English, Leo James. Tagalog-English Dictionary. 1990.
  7. Wild Singapore
  8. Bristow, Michael (2007-07-06). "China trade threatens tropical trees". BBC.
  9. Gibson, Eloise (18 August 2008). "Stores divided over calls to ban kwila". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 June 2010.

Further reading

  • Hyland, B. P. M.; Whiffin, T.; Zich, F. A.; et al. (Dec 2010). "Factsheet – Intsia bijuga". Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants. Edition 6.1, online version [RFK 6.1]. Cairns, Australia: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), through its Division of Plant Industry; the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research; the Australian Tropical Herbarium, James Cook University. Retrieved 16 Mar 2013.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  • Sze Pang Cheung; Tiy Chung; Tamara Stark (17 April 2007). "Merbau's Last Stand" (PDF). Greenpeace International, Amsterdam.
  • Sihite, Jamartin (August 2005). Bintuni Bay Nature Reserve Management Plan - Irian Jaya Barat Province 2006-2030 (PDF). The Nature Conservancy. ISBN 978-979-97700-3-5.
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