Record display

Record Number


PROSEA Handbook Number

5(3): Timber trees; Lesser-known timbers


Actinodaphne Nees


Wallich, Pl. asiat. rar. 2: 61, 68 (1831).



Chromosome Numbers

x = 12; A. reticulata Meissner: n = 12

Vernacular Names

Medang (trade name). Indonesia: huru (Sundanese), wuru (Javanese). Malaysia: medang kuning, medang kunyit (Peninsular). Burma (Myanmar): kyese.

Origin and Geographic Distribution

Actinodaphne comprises some 60 or 70 species and is restricted to the Asian tropics and subtropics, from Sri Lanka and India towards Indo-China, China, and Japan to Thailand, the entire Malesian region and east towards the Solomon Islands.


Timber of Actinodaphne has been used for light construction, interior finish, furniture, beams and boat building. In general, "medang"" timber is suitable for veneer and plywood production.
Bruised leaves of A. moluccana have been applied externally against sores and splinters. Fruits of A. sesquipedalis are reported to be poisonous.

Production and International Trade

The timber of Actinodaphne is traded together with that of many other Lauraceae genera as "medang"", but probably constitutes only a minor proportion of the total amount traded. In 1984 the total export of medang from Peninsular Malaysia to Singapore was 1500 m3 with a value of US$ 62 000. In 1992 the export of medang from Sabah amounted to 52 000 m3 (of which about 10% was sawn timber) with a total value of US$ 4.3 million. In Papua New Guinea the minimum price for medang saw logs was US$ 43/m3 in 1992. Japan imports medang mainly from Sabah and Sarawak and small amounts only from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.


Actinodaphne yields a medium-weight hardwood with a density of 430-815 kg/m3 at 15% moisture content. Heartwood pale olive or grey-green to olive-green or brown, sharply differentiated from the paler, up to 5 cm wide sapwood, which occasionally has a yellow tinge; grain straight to moderately interlocked; texture moderately fine and even; wood often with camphor-like smell when freshly cut; planed surface greasy to the touch. Growth rings distinct to occasionally indistinct; vessels moderately small to medium-sized, generally solitary, occasionally in radial multiples of 2-4, visible to the naked eye, tyloses present; parenchyma sparse to moderately abundant, paratracheal vasicentric, in A. sphaerocarpa sometimes confluent; rays very fine to moderately fine, usually only visible with a hand lens; ripple marks absent.
The wood is of medium strength. The wood of A. oleifolia Gamble is siliceous, hence other species may also be siliceous and may present difficulties when sawing. Medang timber is generally easy to slightly difficult to saw, easy to plane. It is durable to slightly durable under cover but non-durable in exposed situations. The sapwood is susceptible to Lyctus. The heartwood is resistant to preservative treatment, the sapwood amenable.
Laurotetanine, a poisonous substance, has been traced in A. procera.
See also the table on microscopic wood anatomy.


Evergreen, dioecious shrubs or small to medium-sized trees up to 30(-40) m tall; bole straight to moderately straight, fairly cylindrical, usually comparatively short, up to 80 cm in diameter, sometimes fluted at base, sometimes with small steep buttresses up to 1 m high; bark surface smooth to cracking, dark or grey-brown to brown or pinkish-grey, inner bark brown to bright orange-brown. Leaves usually verticillate, occasionally tripliveined, usually aromatic when crushed, exstipulate; bud scales often leafy. Flowers in an axillary, solitary or compound fascicle or umbel, unisexual; tepals 6, with a short tube; fertile stamens usually 9, in 3 whorls, those of the inner whorl with 2 glands each, anthers 4-celled, opening by valves; ovary superior, 1-locular with a single ovule, stigma peltate. Fruit a 1-seeded, black or sometimes red or yellow berry, seated on the persistent enlarged perianth tube. Seedling with hypogeal germination; cotyledons not emergent, peltate; hypocotyl not developed; epicotyl with a few scales, all leaves arranged spirally, eventually verticillate.
Trees of A. sesquipedalis are often inhabited by ants. In Java most species flower in the period May-October. The seeds are dispersed by birds.
Like most genera of the Lauraceae, Actinodaphne is in desperate need of a thorough taxonomic revision. The present state of knowledge results in doubtful identifications and an unstable nomenclature, often rendering the scarce information at the species level unreliable.


Actinodaphne species reaching timber size are generally found in primary, lowland to lower montane rain forest, from sea-level up to 1000(-1400) m altitude. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats including floodplains, peat-swamp forest and kerangas.

Silviculture and Management

Actinodaphne is propagated by seed.

Genetic Resources and Breeding

As many Actinodaphne species have a restricted area of distribution, destruction of their habitat may enhance genetic erosion. Apart from some individual trees in botanic gardens, there are no records of ex situ conservation of Actinodaphne species.


Actinodaphne may continue to contribute to the medang timber trade group, but increased use is unlikely.


[41]Allen, C.K., 1942. Studies in the Lauraceae, IV. Preliminary study of the Papuasian species collected by the Archbold expeditions. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 23: 112-155.
[70]Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr., R.C., 1963-1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen.
[162]Burgess, P.F., 1966. Timbers of Sabah. Sabah Forest Records No 6. Forest Department, Sabah, Sandakan. xviii + 501 pp.
[163]Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. 2nd edition. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240. Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.
[209]Corner, E.J.H., 1988. Wayside trees of Malaya. 3rd edition. 2 volumes. The Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 774 pp.
[218]Dahms, K.-G., 1982. Asiatische, ozeanische und australische Exporthölzer [Asiatic, Pacific and Australian export timbers]. DRW-Verlag, Stuttgart. 304 pp.
[267]Desch, H.E., 1941-1954. Manual of Malayan timbers. Malayan Forest Records No 15. 2 volumes. Malaya Publishing House Ltd., Singapore. 762 pp.
[304]Eddowes, P.J., 1995-1997. The forests and timbers of Papua New Guinea. (unpublished data).
[402]Hallé, F., Oldeman, R.A.A. & Tomlinson, P.B., 1978. Tropical trees and forests - an architectural analysis. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York. 441 pp.
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[464]Ilic, J., 1990. The CSIRO macro key for hardwood identification. CSIRO, Highett. 125 pp.
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[595]Koorders, S.H. & Valeton, T., 1894-1915. Bijdrage tot de kennis der boomsoorten van Java [Contribution to the knowledge of the tree species of Java]. 13 parts. G. Kolff & Co., Batavia, 's-Gravenhage.
[605]Kostermans, A.J.G.H., 1957. Lauraceae. Reinwardtia 4: 193-256.
[614]Kostermans, A.J.G.H., 1964. Bibliographia Lauracearum. Ministry of National Research, Jakarta. xvi + 1450 pp.
[829]Ng, F.S.P., 1991-1992. Manual of forest fruits, seeds and seedlings. 2 volumes. Malayan Forest Record No 34. Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kepong. 997 pp.
[861]Oey Djoen Seng, 1951. De soortelijke gewichten van Indonesische houtsoorten en hun betekenis voor de praktijk [Specific gravity of Indonesian woods and its significance for practical use]. Rapport No 46. Bosbouwproefstation, Bogor. 183 pp.
[1094]Teschner, H., 1923. 86. Die Lauraceen Nordost-Neu-Guineas [The Lauraceae of north-east New Guinea]. Botanische Jahrbücher 58: 380-440.
[1221]Whitmore, T.C. & Ng, F.S.P. (Editors), 1972-1989. Tree flora of Malaya. A manual for foresters. 4 volumes. Malayan Forest Records No 26. Longman Malaysia Sdn. Berhad, Kuala Lumpur & Petaling Jaya.
[1242]Wong, T.M., 1982. A dictionary of Malaysian timbers. Malayan Forest Records No 30. Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kepong. 259 pp.


E.N. Sambas (general part), M.S.M. Sosef (selection of species)

Actinodaphne angustifolia
Actinodaphne glabra
Actinodaphne glomerata
Actinodaphne gracilis
Actinodaphne latifolia
Actinodaphne macrophylla
Actinodaphne malaccensis
Actinodaphne moluccana
Actinodaphne obtusa
Actinodaphne procera
Actinodaphne pruinosa
Actinodaphne rumphii
Actinodaphne sesquipedalis
Actinodaphne sphaerocarpa

Correct Citation of this Article

Sambas, E.N. & Sosef, M.S.M., 1998. Actinodaphne Nees. In: Sosef, M.S.M., Hong, L.T. and Prawirohatmodjo, S. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 5(3): Timber trees; Lesser-known timbers. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record:

Selection of Species

The following species in this genus are important in this commodity group and are treated separatedly in this database:
Actinodaphne angustifolia
Actinodaphne glabra
Actinodaphne glomerata
Actinodaphne gracilis
Actinodaphne latifolia
Actinodaphne macrophylla
Actinodaphne malaccensis
Actinodaphne moluccana
Actinodaphne obtusa
Actinodaphne procera
Actinodaphne pruinosa
Actinodaphne rumphii
Actinodaphne sesquipedalis
Actinodaphne sphaerocarpa

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