Many people think that there is only a single type for teak wood available in Kerala.But there are so many varieties of it.Depending upon the place where the teak tree grows the nature,quality and finished appearance of teak wood changes.
Just like any other tree, teak also will have better quality of wood if the tree grows in a place where water availability is less.If the water availability is more naturally the tree will grow faster.If you cut the tree ,cross section of it will show an outer ring which is called soft core.This is not good for using in manufacture of wooden items used in house construction.When you cut a tree growing very near to a river or any other water sources or in locations where water is available close to surface of land,that tree will have comparatively more soft core.This soft core normally look nearer to white in colour and hence in Malayalam it is referred as “vella”.This vella or soft core portion will get eaten away by pests as years pass by.Hard core of teak will not be eaten by pests even though hard core of other wood commonly used in Kerala like Anjily or Plavu will be eaten by pests.Reason for this protection of hard core of teak against pests is due to the fact that teak has got lot of oil in the hard core and that is one reason why teak lasts for hundreds of years when used in any form for house construction.But even this oil get depleted over years and if you use old teak items removed from old buildings chances of it lasting again hundred more year is not so good as with passing of years oil in teak wood get reduced and once oil content reduces to low level teak also get deteriorated like any other tree.
I have found Anjily also lasting long as I have found one old house built about 120 years back still having Anjily wood parts remaining strong.But then that Anjily must have been quite old and strong in hard core when used.Many people think that rosewood is stronger than Teak.Even though it is true,as it has more oil content than Teak,it gets damaged fast when it come into contact with cement mortar.That is why rosewood(Eetty) is not used for manufacture of doors and windows for house however rich may be the owner of the house.Eetty(rosewood) is normally used only for furniture, if the person can afford cost as it cost higher than Teak.
Eetty(rosewood) if planted today,can be cut for use only after 120 years as it grows very slowly and will attain sizeable dimensions(normally referred by wood sellers by its diameter)only after about 120 years whereas Teak will attain size suitable for cutting after 60 years.I have planted a teak tree in my plot near Alwaye periyar river about 13 years back.Due to availability of plenty of water in soil ,teak has grown very fast and has acquired a diameter of about 60 inches(a size wood sellers consider decent enough for cutting) but rosewood planted together has not even got one fourth of that diameter even after 13 years.
Teak which is growing in places where water availability is good is called as country teak and do not command good price.When used it tend to get darker over a period of time.But remains almost intact if properly polished.Teak from Nilambur is so good to see especially after polishing as it has got marvelous grains giving the wood excellent design look.I have built a house at Nilambur and used Nilambur teak for the entire work of the house.Second in quality can be Teak available from Konny forest nearer to Pathanamthitta.Most of the Anjily tree is also coming from Erattupetta nearer to Pathanamthitta.
Lot of people use an imported wood called Pingoda which is available through wood sellers at price nearer to that of Anjily.They call it “Cheruteak”just to cheat people who may think that it is a variety of teak.It has nothing to do with teak and these grown in western countries and imported is not suitable to Kerala climate and conditions.
Teak normally available for buying from wood sellers is again imported Burma Teak which is more whiter in appearance with lesser grains and comparatively cheaper.Best teak wood available in Kerala are Kerala Plantation teak and in that Nilambur Teak is superior.
There is a Teak museum in Nilambur worth seeing.It shows different classification details of Teak based on diameter of log like B1,B2 etc and also many details of Teak.Old teak plantations in Nilambur were planted and grown by British people when they were ruling us.
Look at the picture of front side of Teak Museum at Nilambur.