Albizia (Falcataria moluccana) most commonly known as the Moluccan albizia, and batai, is a species of fast-growing tree in the legume family, Fabaceae. It is about 30m tall tree in nature with a massive trunk and an open crown.
It is native to the Maluku Islands, New Guinea Island, the Bismarck Archipelago (in Papua New Guinea), and the Solomon Islands. It is cultivated for timber throughout South Asian and Southeast Asian countries. This tree is considered to be invasive in Hawaii, American Samoa and several other island nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Falcataria moluccana is cultivated throughout the wet tropical and subtropical regions of the world and so has many common names. These include: albizia (Hawaii), Moluccan albizia, sengon (Java), salawaku (Maluku), jeungjing (Indonesia), ai-samtuco (Tetun, Timor-Leste), batai (Malaysia), kerosin tree (Pohnpei), sau, Moluccan sau, and falcata (Philippines), Tamaligi (Samoa).
Albizia is used to make match-sticks, chopsticks, shipping pallets, and wooden boxes. The pulp is used for paper-making. Plywood production and veneer based products have increasingly been an important use for these trees. Traditional uses – Whole tree trunks are carved for seagoing canoes. Also used extensively for firewood in Timor-Leste and elsewhere. In agroforestry it is grown as a coffee shade tree. Inter-cropped with Eucalyptus to add nitrogen. It is also grown with pineapple and other crops in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. It can be used for surf boards, etc because of it's unusually low density.
Working with albizia is usually easy because of it's light weight, sometimes it feels like you're working with a foam more than a wood.
After recent testing at The University of Hawaii, albizia has been found to be a structurally sound building material. This development could be very helpful in pushing for the removal of these invasive trees, being able to subsidize that expense with the harvesting of their lumber. See The Albizia Project for more information.
In Hawaii the caterpillars of the endemic Hawaiian koa looper (Scotorythra paludicola) has been found to defoliate Falcataria moluccana and complete their development on this invasive tree without the larvae eating the leaves of their native host Acacia koa.
Janka Hardness: 430 lbf (1,900 N)
Average Dried Weight: 22 lbs/ft3 (360 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity: .32
Typical Albizia (Falcataria moluccana, Batai) wood grain with clear coat finish.
Albizia (Falcataria moluccana, batai) lumber up close wood grain.