Almaciga

 

Almaciga tree

Almaciga tree

Scientific Name

Agathis philippinensis

Physical Characteristics

The almaciga is a very large tree, reaching 300 centimeters in diameter at breast height and 60 meters in height.

The trunk is straight, cylindrical, or may taper and sometimes with markedly spiral grain. It has no buttress but with big, swollen, superficial roots. The crown is narrow. The branches are radial, or like rays spreading from the trunk, and may droop or turn at the ends and vary in thickness. The bark is smooth, gray, and one to 1.5 centimeters thick, peels or sheds off in large irregular plates, and is a rich source of resin.

Almaciga leaf

Almaciga leaf

The young leaves are about three to four centimeters wide and at least 10 centimeters long. Leaves from fully-exposed branches are rounded at the apex, and measures four to five centimeters long and 1.5 to two centimeters wide.

Cones are spherical and about eight centimeters in diameter. Male cones are borne in or slightly above the leaf axils and cylindrical cone scales are shield-like in appearance, numerous, and with 10 to 12 pollen sacs.

Female cones are situated at the tip, are either egg- or ball-shaped, with numerous woody cone scales, each bearing a single large ovule. The cones become massive and woody at maturity, with viable seeds forming only at the center of the cone. The seeds are egg-shaped and flattened with one large wing. Sometimes the wings are smaller than usual. Ripe cones shatter on the tree.

Almaciga fruit

Almaciga fruit

Distribution

Almaciga is present in primary forests at medium and high altitudes from the Babuyan Islands and Northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao.

Methods of Propagation

This tree is usually propagated by seeds, which have low viability. Stand establishment is normally through natural regeneration, planting stock, and wildlings.

Contemporary Use

This tree is much in demand as a chief source of Manila copal and for its high-quality timber used for many general purposes. It is planted as an enrichment crop in inadequately stocked areas or under-planted in existing plantations, as it needs partial shade in the early stages of its development.

Traditional Use

Locally, almaciga is employed as incense in religious ceremonies and for torches, to start fires, for caulking boats, and as smudge for mosquitoes. It is exported in considerable quantities, chiefly for use in the manufacture of high-grade varnish, but also for other processes, such as making patent leather and sealing wax. Almaciga is suitable for the manufacture of cheap soaps and paper sizing. In Malaya, the resin is used as a liniment. The sap is used as himughat (medicine against bughat, a condition in which a patient falls back to illness after apparent recovery).

Almaciga trunk

Almaciga trunk

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