- What is petrified wood?
Petrified wood (also called fossil wood) is a mineral that can occur because trees are buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash. The ash contains many minerals that dissolve in groundwater. The wood doesn’t rot as quickly as it normally would, because it doesn’t come in contact with oxygen. Groundwater saturates the tree, and the minerals penertrate the cells within the tree.
Slowly but surely the rotten wood is replaced by the minerals. This process takes many years, and the structure of the dead tree is perfectly preserved. The wood content is replaced completely by hard stone like minerals. Experts can recognise the species of tree.
What are some species of petrified trees?
The petrified wood from Indonesia consists almost exclusively of the species Dipterocarpus. This deciduous species still exists, and is common in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Petrified Palm trees are also found.
The trees from Arizona and Madagascar are Araucaria. There are also other petrified trees available.
How old is petrified wood?
The Indonesian petrified wood typically comes from the Miocene era. This means that the trees are about 20 million years old. There were no humans alive, and dinosaurs became extinct about 45 years ago, as a comparison. The petrified wood from Arizona and Madagascar is much older. Approximately 225 million years old.
Where is petrified wood found?
Petrified wood can be found all over the world. In most countries, such as the Netherlands, it is not very interesting. The pieces are small and the colouration tends to be bland. In some countries, petrified wood can be found in large quantities, made up of large pieces which are brightly coloured. Top quality pieces are to be found in Indonesia, the USA, Madagascar and Brazil.
There are known "petrified forests", where tourists can explore. It is strictly forbidden to remove petrified wood from these locations. Well known petrified forest are located on the island of Lesbos, in Greece, and in Arizona, USA.
Petrified wood in Indonesia is often hidden deep under ground. When a farmer is plowing his land, he can sometimes unearth a piece of petrified wood. Experts are then called in to examine the piece to determine if it is worth excavating. If they are found to be valuable, they are sold to companies who clean, cut and generally process the piece.. Xyleia Natural Interiors purchase the petrified wood from these companies.
It is important to note, that the excavation site is always returned to it’s original condition.
Is it legal to import petrified wood?
The simple answer is yes it is. In Indonesia, petrified wood has become a cottage industry, enabling many people to earn their living by excavating petrified wood, transporting and processing it.
Is it difficult to buy petrified wood?
It is not particularly difficult to find petrified wood, but it is a challenge to locate beautiful pieces. Xyleia Natural Interiors purchase less than 1% of what our local buyers are offered. The other 99% doesn’t meet our criteria. Our local staff continuously travel in search of the best pieces.
How hard is petrified wood?
The “Mohs” hardness scale, runs from 1 to 10. Chalk has a hardness of 1. A diamond is 10 on the scale. Petrified wood is an average of 7. Granite also is 7 on the scale. Belgian marble is 3, and limestone 4. Petrified wood is a less suitable material for sculptors, due to its hardness.
How is petrified wood modified?
Using conventional grinders petrified wood can be cut, shaped and polished. When polished, wonderful colours emerge. It can be cut into slices. Larger pieces up to 3 meters in diameter, are cut using a wire saw. Cutting and polishing is a very time consuming task which requires craftsmanship.
How big can a piece of petrified wood be?
The biggest piece of petrified wood that we ourselves have ever seen, weighed about 23 tons. The biggest piece in our collection in the Netherlands weighs approx 800 kg. That’s similar to a small car. The average weight of a side table is around 100 kg.
How is petrified wood exported?
The petrified wood is well packed in strong timber crates, then placed into a shipping container. A full container weighs 20 tons. It takes about a month to arrive in Europe.
- Which tree species are used by Xyleia Natural Interiors?
Most tree slab tables we import are made of the species albizia saman. This species is widespread throughout the tropical area, but nevertheless it is not native in South East Asia. Albizia saman originates from South and Central America. Several centuries ago, the tree was introduced in other countries with a suitable climate, like Thailand.
These trees do not exist in the natural rainforest. On the contrary, the trees are usually planted along roads and in parks.
Besides albizia saman Xyleia Natural Interiors sell consoles and coffee tables of rosewood and teak. These furniture pieces are made from the root system of the tree, and not the trunk.
Where do Xyleia Natural Interiors source their wood?
Our tree slab tables come from Thailand. The trees are often cut into slabs on the spot. These slabs are easier to transport than a complete trunk, which can weigh many tons.
Does Xyleia Natural Interiors meet the requirements of the EUTR?
Yes, we can always prove that every table that we import is produced sustainably. We buy mainly from one reliable supplier whose administration is in perfect order. They always know where the tree came from, who felled it, with which license, how the tree is transported, etc.
We work exclusively with legally harvested timber produced in a sustainable manner.
Albizia saman is a protected species?
No, to the Thai "Forest Department", the organization that deals with the protection of forests in Thailand, the albizia saman looks rather like an unwanted guest, who takes up the space of indigenous species like teak and palissander.
Xyleia Natural Interiors support the organization FORRU-CMU. With a percentage of our profit, this organisation plants trees in national parks. Check for more information about our donations: About Xyleia, CSR.
Does albizia saman have other names?
Yes, the tree has several names. The botanical name is albizia saman or Samanea saman. In many countries, the species has a different name, e.g.:
English: Raintree or monkey pod.
Thailand the tree is often referred to as ‘acacia by English speaking people. In Thai it is called Cham Cha.
Why are some table tops light in colour, while others are quite dark?
Trees that have been standing close to a river, are usually lighter in colour than trees have lived on the slopes of a dry mountain.
Why is it that the edge of the table top has a very light colour, compared to the inside of the tree?
The outer, light-coloured edge is called sapwood. ‘Sapwood is the younger, outermost wood; in the growing tree it is living wood, and its principal functions are to conduct water from the roots to the leaves and to store up and give back according to the season the reserves prepared in the leaves. However, by the time they become competent to conduct water, all xylem tracheids and vessels have lost their cytoplasm and the cells are therefore functionally dead. All wood in a tree is first formed as sapwood.’ (source: Wikipedia).
In the sapwood, there are often marks of longhorn beetles. These insects make the holes, which are visible on the side of the tables. These are in fact the exit holes of the longhorn beetles. All unwanted animals have been destroyed by fumigation.
How old were the trees when they were cut?
Albizia saman is a species that stops growing after about 70 years. Thereafter, the wood is of lower quality and the tree is usually felled. So the biggest tee slab tables Xyleia Natural Interiors imports (600 x 185 cm), have not grown much older than 70 years. It is a relatively fast-growing species.
Ten years after the planting of this tree people can harvested is. Not for large tree slab tables, of course, but for example for Stools.