What Is Luan Wood?

Luan, or Lauan wood, is a type of commercial wood product that is processed from trees of the Shorea genus. Often sold commercially as Philippine Mahogany, Lauan wood is not in any way related to the "true" mahogany trees that belong to the Swietenia and Khaya genus.

Trees of the Shorea genus are endemic to Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines, Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia. Certain Shorea species also grow in Northern India. The variety of trees in the Shorea genus that are commercially sold as lumber are the Philippine mahogany, Lauan, Lawaan, Meranti, Seraya, Bangkirai and Balau.

Most of the Shorea species are flowering trees that bloom heavily in 3 to 10 year intervals. The extensive amount of flowers produced by the trees is believed to be a way to facilitate pollination and satiate predators. Most Lauan trees can grow to more than 260 feet, with the tallest tree measured at 288 feet.

Lauan wood is categorized into five different categories, and these are: light red Meranti, dark red Meranti, yellow Meranti, white Meranti and Balau. The wood products that are being sold as "Luan" or "Philippine mahogany" are actually a combination of the different Shorea varieties. Lauan wood products are often in the form of plywood and veneer. Apart from veneer, Lauan wood is ideally used for any projects that require lightweight wood, such as doll houses, small wooden tools and kayaks.