Mangkono, scientifically called Xanthostemon verdugonianus Naves, is known to be the hardest Philippine hardwood species. Cutting a 70-cm thick tree with axes normally requires three hours, but cutting a Mangkono tree with the same diameter usually takes two to four days. Diamond-point saws have been used exclusively but a great volume of water is needed to counter overheating.
Because of its inherent hardness and high density, Mangkono has long been recognized as a substitute for the world famous Lignum vitae (Guaicum officinale L.). Mangkono is an excellent material for the bearing or stern bushing of a steamship’s propeller shaft. Its other uses are as rollers, shears, saw guide blocks, tool handles, novelties, poles and piles for wharves and bridges, and posts for houses.
Mangkono is a medium sized-tree reaching a diameter of 50 cm or more with a very irregular, fluted and bent bole frequently with epidermic branches.
Leaves are simple, relatively thick, alternate, obovate, 8-12 cm long and 3-5 cm wide. Its red inflorescence terminates in a branch. The fruit is dehiscent and has 2-3 lobes that split into 2-3 sections when ripe and contain tiny half-moon shaped seeds.
The species is endemic to the Philippines and is known to have a very limited habitat. It is indigenous only within the so-called ‘Mangkono Triangle’ area, consisting of the Dinagat Island in Surigao, the Homonhon Island in Samar, Babatngon, Leyte, and in Palawan.
Status: Rare and Endangered
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1998. Xanthostemon verdugonianus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 24 August 2007.
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