Andaman Padauk Tree
My first encounter with this beautiful tree was in the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary in Meleng Assam in February 2007. The place is situated in the Jorhat district of Assam and about 30 kilometers from Jorhat town. There are tea gardens of the interminable area that seem to spread like a baize colored carpets miles and miles.
After reaching there, we were escorted by an NGO guide- a Nepali boy to guide us through the jungle. He was very courteous and was very enthusiastic to show us many beautiful trees, vines, flora, and fauna. He showed us a python that was curled into a bundle and would not budge even after prodded with a stick. Along the path which we treaded were fresh feces of elephants excreta indicating that elephants were nearby.
There were some very rare and exotic trees and vines which I happen to see for the first time. For example, white pepper vines from which bunches of pepper fruit were hanging. There were Rudrakash trees the seed of which are highly prized for making rosaries by Hindus in India for good fortune and peace. There were other trees from the bark of which incense exuded.
The greatest surprise was the majestic trees called Andaman Padauk. It was a truly very tall tree. The guide told us that they have been planted here many years ago after being brought from Andamans. More details about this tree are taken from the internet and given below.
Andaman Padauk is a tall deciduous tree found only in Andaman. It is a state tree of Andaman. It grows up to a height of 120 feet. The timber is highly prized for making furniture. Burr and Buttress formation adds charm to the tree and used in making unique furniture.
The wood of this tree is very sought after. The wood is being used since ancient times. King Solomon, the proverbial wise man of Israel knew about this priceless wood and it was used to make pillars of his temple. It was in the 10th century B.C.E. French Kings in the 17th century favored a red-orange variety called Narra for crafting the chalices and cups. The water in these cups and chalices turned yellow which royalty claimed had medicinal properties.
A century later, the colorful wood of Solomon and the Louis attracted even wider acclaim. As a veneer named amboyna, padauk was featured in Empire-style furniture.
The tree wood had a great demand in Europe. Britishers were ruling India then and bent upon the exploitation of the resource-rich country. They forcibly engaged the so-called convicts who actually were the freedom fighters from India in cutting the wood in Andaman islands. Wood was exported to Europe for making exotic rail car panels and high-quality furniture.