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Oak, Tropical

Oak, Tropical (Quercus)

Oak, Tropical is an imported hardwood


The oaks (Quercus) are abundantly represented in Mexico and Central America with about 150 species, which are nearly equally divided between the red and white oak groups. More than 100 species occur in Mexico and about 25 in Guatemala; the number diminishes southward to Colombia, which has two species. The usual Spanish name applied to the oaks is encino or roble, and both names are used interchangeably irrespective of species or use of the wood.


In heartwood color, texture, and grain characteristics, tropical oaks are similar to the oaks in the United States, especially live oak (Quercus virginiana). In most cases, tropical oaks are heavier (density of air-dried wood is 704 to 993 kg/m3 (44 to 62 lb/ft3)) than the U.S. species. Strength data are available for only four species, and the values fall between those of white oak (Q. alba) and live oak (Q. virginiana) or are equal to those of live oak. Average specific gravity for the tropical oaks is 0.72 based on volume when green and ovendry weight, with an observed maximum average of 0.86 for one species from Guatemala. The heartwood is rated as very resistant to decay fungi and difficult to treat with preservatives.

Primary Uses

Utilization of the tropical oaks is very limited at present because of difficulties encountered in the drying of the wood. The major volume is used in the form of charcoal, but the wood is used for flooring, railroad crossties, mine timbers, tight cooperage, boat and ship construction, and decorative veneers.