About Ifilele (Intsia bijuga)

Ifilele is a highly valued hardwood traditionally carved into wooden handicrafts such as tanoa (kava bowls) and walking sticks. The tree is used for similar purposes in Fiji (called vesi) and in Tonga (fehi). Ifilele is considered to have the finest wood in Samoa because of its hardness, rich golden brown grain, and high durability.

The Pacific Ocean country of Samoa includes the islands of Savai'i, Upolu, Apolina and Manono, the two former being the largest and more populated. As in many other countries, forests are declining and according to a study carried out by Groome and Poury in 1995, approximately one-third (23,885 hectares) of the country's forests were cleared between 1977 and 1990. The forest clearance rate during that period of 3% per annum was one of the highest in the world. While the clearance rate for Upolu stood at 50 hectares per year, for Savai'i it was estimated at an unsustainable of 1,000 hectares per annum.
The Ifilele tree is the most threatened timber tree in Samoa.

According to the Assistant Director of Forestry, Afamasaga Sami Lemalu "merchantable forests will be logged out if the current rate of forestation continues," adding that "there is a need to stem such a crisis and introduce policies to ensure we have forestry reserves for the future."

Uafato village is the most eastern of the villages in the bay and nestled between the sea and rainforest mountains. The forests surrounding the village contains one of the largest remaining stands of a native hardwood tree ifilele (Intsia bijuga) with many uses in Samoan culture including housebuilding and carving.

Listen to the music of one of Samoa's artist, the Le Ifilele Band

About Mahogany (Swietenia humilis)

Mahogany is a straight-grained, reddish-brown timber of three tropical hardwood species of the genus Swietenia, indigenous to the Americas, part of the pantropical chinaberry family, Meliaceae.

Mahogany is a commercially important lumber prized for its beauty, durability, and color, and used for paneling and to make furniture, boats, musical instruments and other items. The leading importer of mahogany is the United States, followed by Britain; while the largest exporter today is Peru, which surpassed Brazil after that country banned mahogany exports in 2001. It is estimated that some 80 or 90 percent of Peruvian mahogany exported to the United States is illegally harvested, with the economic cost of illegal logging in Peru placed conservatively at $US40-70 million annually. It was estimated that in 2000, some 57,000 mahogany trees were harvested to supply the U.S. furniture trade alone.

About Mamaki Tea Bush (Pipturus albidus)

Mamaki is also called mamake and waimea (on Kauai) and is known to scientists as Pipturus albidus. It belongs to the same family (Urticaceae) as stinging nettles and olona. but the Hawaiian members of this family have lost any ability to sting.
Mamaki grows as a shrub or a small tree up to 18 feet tall. It is native to all the main Hawaiian islands except Kahoolawe and Niihau. This weak-wooded plant has grayish brown to reddish brown bark that gets a whitish tinge to it with age.
The leaves range in size from a couple of inches long to almost a foot long. They are usually dark green on top and a lighter green, or even whitish, on the bottom. They are heart-shaped and have a fine sandpaper feel to them. The edges of the leaves have little indentations that look a bit like small, pointed teeth.

About Moringa (Moringa oleifera)

Moringa, native to parts of Africa and Asia, is the sole genus in the flowering plant family Moringaceae. The name is derived from murungai/munakkai/muringa, the Tamil/Telugu/Malayalam word for drumstick. It contains 13 species from tropical and subtropical climates that range in size from tiny herbs to massive trees.
The most widely cultivated species is Moringa oleifera, a multipurpose tree native to the foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India and cultivated throughout the tropics. M. stenopetala, an African species, is also widely grown, but to a much lesser extent than M. oleifera.
Moringa species grow quickly in many types of environments.

About Sandalwood (asi manogi)

Sandalwood is the name of a class of woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the woods for use. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued for centuries. Consequently, species of this slow-growing trees have suffered over-harvesting in the past century.

Sandalwood was first used in ancient times--probably more than 4,000 years ago. In India, it's been valued for at least 2,000 years as one of the most sacred trees--an important part of devotional rituals. The wood has been used to make various religious artifacts such as staffs and figurines, and a sandalwood paste was made for marking the skin. Because of its resistance to white ants, the wood was also used in early buildings.

Sandalwood was an important medicinal herb in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicines. By 700 B.C., it was an important trade item and has been found in Egyptian embalming formulas. It was also used in death rituals in other countries--in India it was burned on funeral pyres or even used to make coffins for the very wealthy.

A key ingredient in perfumes and incense, lotions and body oils, sandalwood has been one of the most important perfume materials for more than 2000 years. In China, sandalwood joss sticks are very popular as incense. Sandalwood's use in European and American perfumery was not significant until the 1900s, where it was (and still is) appreciated for its fixative ability as well as its fragrance. Today it is often used in fine perfumes.

Following tradition, the wood of the sandalwood tree is still used to make sacred objects, carvings, and various handcrafted ornaments. In the past, it was often used for temple doors, and it is still valued for intricately carved furniture--although with today's high prices, it is used for this purpose less than in the past. Chips of wood are burned as an incense or ground to make incense sticks.

On the Australian market, a metric tonne of Australian sandalwood was selling at AUS$12,000 (WST$26,000) in January. However, the same quantity of Indian sandwood has been selling on Delhi auctions by up to AUS$105,000 (WST$240,000).

The last sandalwood

It looks like any ordinary piece of driftwood.
It sits at the corner of the truck bed as I unpack from my trip to Savaii this afternoon. I do not want to take it into the house as there are Samoan taboos about bringing home objects from other villages, forests.
By most accounts we gathered - this is what remains of the last Samoan asi manogi, native Samoan sandalwood tree, chopped down back in 1989.
A tree and its fragrance - that lured fleets of European and Asian merchant ships to our shores at a most colourful time in Samoan history.
A forestry inventory after the cyclones in 1992 which included aerial surveys - revealed that the asi manogi (Samoan sandalwood) was no more, finished, gone says chief forestry officer Fiu Nimarota.

About Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata)

Cedro is a tree of the New World tropics, appearing in forests of moist and seasonally dry subtropical or tropical life zones.
The tree is monoecious semi-deciduous ranging in height from 10 to 30 m (33 to 98 ft). The trunk has a thick grey-brown bark, with longitudinal irregular grain. Pinnately compound leaves, grouped towards the end of the branches, 15-50 cm (5.9?19.7 in) long, with pairs of scythe-shaped leaflets, lanceolate to oblong, 7-15 cm (2.8-5.9 in) × 3-5 cm (1.2-2.0 in) with the base obliquely truncated and asymmetric.

Cedrela odorata is the most commercially important and widely distributed species in the genus Cedrela. Known as Spanish cedar in English commerce, the aromatic wood is in high demand in the American tropics because it is naturally termite- and rot-resistant. An attractive, moderately lightweight wood (specific gravity 0.4), its primary use is in household articles used to store clothing. Cedro heartwood contains an aromatic and insect-repelling resin that is the source of its popular name, Spanish-cedar (it resembles the aroma of true cedars (Cedrus spp.) Cedro works easily and makes excellent plywood and veneer and would be more widely used if it could be successfully plantation grown. This plant is often used for honey production (beekeeping) and humidor construction. It is occasionally used for tops or veneers on some kinds of electric guitars. The wood is the traditional choice for making the neck of flamenco and classical guitars.

About Teak (Tectona grandis)

Teak is a tropical hardwood species placed in the family Lamiaceae. Tectona grandis is a large, deciduous tree that occurs in mixed hardwood forests. It has small, fragrant white flowers and papery leaves that are often hairy on the lower surface.
Teak wood has a leather-like smell when it is freshly milled. Teak timber is particularly valued for its durability and water resistance, and is used for boat building, exterior construction, veneer, furniture, carving, turnings, and other small wood projects.

Teak is a large, deciduous tree up to 40 m (131 ft) tall with gray to grayish brown branches. Leaves are ovate-elliptic to ovate, 15-45 cm (5.9-17.7 in) long by 8-23 cm (3.1-9.1 in) wide, and are held on robust petioles that are 2?4 cm (0.8-1.6 in) long. Leaf margins are entire.
Fragrant white flowers are borne on 25-40 cm (10-16 in) long by 30 cm (12 in) wide panicles from June to August. The corolla tube is 2.5-3 mm long with 2 mm wide obtuse lobes. Tectona grandis sets fruit from September to December; fruits are globose and 1.2-1.8 cm in diameter.- Flowers are weakly protandrous in that the anthers precede the stigma in maturity and pollen is shed within a few hours of the flower opening.- The flowers are primarily entomophilous (insect-pollinated), but can occasionally be anemophilous (wind-pollinated).