Tree planting in the Philippines is not only an enjoyable hobby but also a profitable business and can help preserve our depleting ecosystem. Although the forestry business in the Philippines is mostly dominated by Gmelina and Mahogany, there are also other native Philippine forest trees that are worth investing in.
By planting Philippine native trees, you are not only making money but also helping preserve these threatened tree species.
Below are some of the threatened endemic Philippine tree species (except for mahogany, gmelina, and acacia), with their scientific names that are worth preservation and planting.
1. Gmelina (Gmelina arborea)
Although Gmelina is not a native Philippine tree, it is the most important and widely distributed species of tree in the Philippines due to its economic importance and fast-growing. Gmelina can grow up to 15 meters on steep lands and can reach a 12-inch diameter in just five years.
2. Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
Honduran or big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), with a range from Mexico to southern Amazonia in Brazil, is the most widespread species of mahogany and the only true mahogany species commercially grown today. Both Mahogany and Gmelina are the top choices of commercial growers but the latter grows slower than the former and can be harvested after 15 to 20 years.
3. Narra (Pterocarpus indicus)
Narra is the most important and one of the most expensive lumbers in the Philippines. It is considered a national tree and although the tree species is considered “vulnerable”, it can be found anywhere.
It is a premium timber species suitable for high-grade furniture, lumber, and plywood for light construction purposes. It is also used for cartwheels, wood carving, and musical instruments
4. Molave (Vitex parviflora)
Molave (mulawin, himul-awon in Hiligaynon) is a very important and high-value Philippine native tree. Its lumber is mainly used in premium furniture, tool handles, and wood carvings, and heavy construction. It is one of the most expensive lumbers in the country and is very hard to find.
5. Yakal (Shorea astylosa)
Shorea astylosa is endemic to the Philippines, which is known as Yakal in the Filipino language. Yakal is a medium to a large tree about 25 to 30 meters tall. Its wood is hard and dark brownish-yellow. Branchlets are rather slender, blackish, and slightly hairy. Yakal is often used as a substitute to Narra as it is cheaper than the latter. It is used in furniture, stairs, and carvings.
6. Toog (Petersianthus quadrialatus)
Petersianthus quadrialatus (also called Toog and Philippine Rosewood) is an emergent tropical rainforest tree species. In the Visayas region called Kapullan, in the Samar and Leyte areas – Magtalisai. It is an indigenous tree species in the southeastern Philippines and one of the largest tree species in the Philippines islands.
Leaves are medicinal especially in treating skin rashes. Seeds are edible and taste like groundnut. Because its wood is hard and difficult to cut and is as strong as Molave (Vitex parviflora), its highly preferred for heavy construction such as bridges, beams, joists, poles, woodpiles of wharves and piers, veneer, and plywood, also for door faces and door components like jambs, stops, and casing.
7. Apitong (Dipterocarpus grandiflorus)
Dipterocarpus grandiflorus is a critically endangered common medium hardwood tree in South-East Asia and India. Its wood is used to produce good quality charcoal, paper pulp, and timber sold under the Keruing designation. Its gum is used locally as a waterproofing varnish. The tree itself is very useful for nitrogen-fixing, erosion control, soil improvement, and watershed regulation.
Apitong is commonly found in the Northern Negros Forest Reserve in Negros Occidental and is highly protected.
8. Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis)
Agathis philippinensis (in Tagalog: Almasiga, Almaciga, or Dayungon) is a species of large Agathis tree native to the Philippines, Sulawesi, and Halmahera, where it occurs in upland tropical rainforest at 450-2,200 m altitude, rarely as low as 250 m in northern Luzon.
The tree is commonly used throughout the Philippines, Melanesia, and Australasia as an enrichment crop. Despite being limited by altitude constraints it is tolerant of most different soil densities, though it requires good drainage and prefers acidic soils. It has a special tolerance for shallow, infertile soils. The tree is therefore used to support areas that do not experience adequate crop growth and is also planted inside of existing plantations to replace existing trees.
Almaciga lumber is best used in picture frames as it has a very fine texture.
9. Lawaan (Shorea)
There are 2 species of Lawaan (lauan) tree in the Philippines – the red and white lawaan. The red lawaan has an important commercial value and is used in house construction. This writer has a red lawaan tree growing in his backyard and is about 15 years old now.
10. Amugis (Koordersiodendron pinnatum)
Koordersiodendron pinnatum (Ranggu) is a species of tree in the Philippines, locally known as amugis, which is a relative of the cashew tree. This redwood is commonly used for building houses and ships.
11. Acacia (Acacia confusa)
Acacia confusa is a perennial tree native to South-East Asia. Some common names for it are acacia petit feuille, small Philippine acacia, Formosa acacia (Taiwan acacia) and Formosan koa. It grows to a height of 15m. The tree has become very common in many tropical Pacific areas, including Hawaii, where the species is considered invasive
Its uses include chemical products, environmental management, and food and drink. The bark may be ground into a powder and saturated into the water to create a tea or maybe spread onto various foods as a spice and taste enhancer. The wood has a density of about 0.75 g/cm³.In Taiwan, its wood is used to make support beams for underground mines. The wood is also converted to charcoal for family use.
12. Nato (Palaquium luzoniense)
Palaquium luzoniense (also called Red Nato) is a species of plant in the Sapotaceae family. It is endemic to the Philippines. It is threatened by habitat loss.
Nato is commonly found in the Visayas and is one of the most important lumber used in house construction.
13. Lanite (Kibatalia gitingensis)
Lanite is a medium-sized tree. The bark is gray or dark drown, rough and ridged when mature, smooth when young. Lanite is commonly used in house construction and furniture.
Distribution: Luzon, Mindoro, Culion, Palawan, Negros, Mindanao
Economic Importance: Wood used for furniture and funnel products.
Ecological Status: Depleted due to logging and kaingin-making.
14. Balayong (Afzelia rhomboides)
Balayong or tindalo is very hard wood and of medium size. It is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family. It is found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It is threatened by habitat loss.
A tindalo tree was planted by Pres. Manuel L. Quezon during the inauguration of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Philippines as a charter city on October 19, 1938, with Mayor Alfredo Montelibano and Gov. Valeriano Gatuslao.
The wood is good for carvings, furniture, high-grade construction work. The Balayong bark is used for tanning cattle hides, goatskin, and sheepskin. Young seeds are edible due to fatty cotyledons.
15. Ipil (Intsia bijuga)
A large tree growing up to 50m in height and a diameter of 150cm. The bark is smooth, sometimes flaky, and grayish-green with occasional whitish patches. Leaves are shiny green. Observed to have white flowers in June.
Its fruit and bark have reported medicinal properties. The wood used in interior decor and furniture making.