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Large deciduous tree (Tectona grandis) of the verbena family, and its wood, one of the most valuable and durable timbers. Teak has been widely used in India for more than 2,000 years; some temples contain teak beams more than 1,000 years old. The tree has a straight stem, often thickened at the base, a spreading crown, and four-sided branchlets. The rough leaves are opposite or sometimes whorled, and the branches end in many small white flowers. The unseasoned heartwood has a pleasant, strong aromatic fragrance and a beautiful golden-yellow colour, which on seasoning darkens into brown, mottled with darker streaks. Resistant to the effects of water, teakwood is used for shipbuilding, fine furniture, door and window frames, wharves, bridges, cooling-tower louvers, flooring, and paneling. Its desirability has led to severe overcutting in tropical forests.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on teak, visit Britannica.com.