It has been said that the exceptionally beautiful kauri is to the Philippines what the redwood is to California (3). It is a tall, straight tree with thick greyish-brown bark. The bark flakes off the tree in places in rounded pieces, leaving a pattern of irregular scars (4), which has been likened to a jigsaw puzzle (2). The smooth, narrow leathery leaves are four to five centimetres long, around two centimetres wide, and rounded at the top (2). From the air, the greyish-tinge of the green leaves makes the kauri stand out against the blanket of green (4). The leaves, as well as the cones, are produced from branches that radiate from the crown of the tree (3). The wood of the kauri is fine-grained and dense (4), and produces abundant resin (2). The seeds are up to 1.3 centimetres long, with one wing that is as long as the seed, and another that is much shorter (2).
- Also known as
- Trunk height: 45 – 60 m (2)
- Trunk diameter: 1.6 – 6 m (2)
Little information is available about the biology and life history of this species. The cones of the kauri take two years to mature. The larger female cones can be fertilised by pollen from the same tree, or from another tree nearby. Eventually the female cone will shatter on the tree and the fertilised seeds float away from the parent tree on the wind (3).
The kauri occurs in Indonesia and the Philippines (5).
Agathis species have a preference for growing on what might be considered second-rate sites, such as mountains and poor soils in the lowlands (4). The kauri can be found at altitudes between 150 and 2,200 metres, where average temperatures are between 22 and 32 degrees Celsius (5). It is one of the few species of conifers that can grow in the humid tropics (3).
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
The kauri is exploited for its high quality timber (5), which is popular with commercial foresters due to their large yield of timber per hectare (4), and it is also tapped for its resin (5). The resin, which is known on the market as Manila copal, is valued around the world and is used in the manufacture of varnishes and linoleum. Tapping this valuable resin is an important source of income for many people in the Philippines (3). Extensive tapping of the kauri, in combination with the destructive methods sometimes used, has killed many kauri trees (3). The kauri was granted protected status in the Philippines and logging is currently banned. However, illegal logging continues and poses a significant threat to this species, which has now almost disappeared in some areas (6).
The kauri is protected within the Philippines but illegal logging continues to pose a threat (6). Hopefully future use of this tree will be managed carefully, to ensure it does not follow in the path of its relative, the New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis), which was pushed toward extinction due to over-exploitation during the first half of this century (3).
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- IUCN Red List (June, 2007)
- The Gymnosperm Database (May, 2008)
- Heaney, L.R. and Regaldo Jr, J.C. (1998) Vanishing Treasures of the Philippine Rain Forest. The Field Museum, Chicago.
- Veevers-Carter, W. (1984) Riches of the Rainforest. Oxford University Press, Singapore.
- World Agroforestry Centre: Agroforestree Database (May, 2008)
- Mittelman, A.J., Lai, C.K., Byron, N., Michon, G. and Katz, E. (1997) Non-Wood Forest Products Outlook Study for Asia and The Pacific: Towards 2010. Forestry Policy and Planning Division, FAO, Rome.