Sunday, September 6, 2015

Magkono: The Iron Wood Tree

By Anton Antonio
September 7, 2015

One of the many wonders of nature is a tree so hard that people call it “The Iron Wood Tree”.  Locally, though, it is called “Magkono”.  Here is a researched material on Magkono highlighting  six lesser-known facts about it…

“DOON PO SA AMIN in Surigao del Sur, you will find the hardest tree in the Philippines.  The Magkono (Xanthostemon verdugonianus) is an endemic tree that is found only in select localities in the Philippines such as Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Palawan, Samar, and Dinagat Island.  It’s a rare and endangered species due to deforestation and overcutting.  The magkono tree is considered one of the most valuable trees in the world not just because of its rarity.  Find out how valuable the magkono is here:
  1. Tall and Skinny – The magkono is a small to medium-sized tree --- about 20-36 inches in diameter and can reach up to 30-40 feet.  Its bark is hard, thin, and smooth.  But don’t be fooled by how skinny it looks compared to other hardwood trees; the magkono is extremely durable.  Even under the most severe weather conditions, they remain standing tall.
  2. Strength and Tenacity – Due to its density and hardness, it takes some time to cut down the magkono tree even with the use of modern methods.  It takes four days to cut it down with the use of diamond-tipped saws and plenty of water for lubrication.  A twenty-foot magkono tree would need lots of water and plenty of time to cut it down.  The dark-colored wood is extremely durable that even termites can’t penetrate it.
  3. Wooden Heirlooms – Furniture made of magkono trees are extremely valuable and are considered as heirloom pieces.  Such furniture and other novelty items are well-known among the towns of Surigao del Sur since they last for generations.  And not just for generations but even for centuries.  There’s a display of items made of magkono in the National Museum in Butuan that is a testament to the wood’s long-lasting abilities.
  4. Scarcity – The magkono is considered an endangered tree species due to loss of habitat.  As such, local furniture makers can’t meet the demand for magkono-made furniture.  The scarcity has only been worsened by the entry of large scale mining and logging in Surigao del Sur.  It has become increasingly rare to see a mature magkono tree in the wild.
  5. Founded in Magkono – Even back then, the magkono was already highly valued by our ancestors.  They used it as the foundation for houses and poles used in the balangay (boat).  They also used it as caskets for the departed.  Before the existence of plastics, the magkono was used as propeller shafts for steamships, tool handles and bowling balls.  The iron wood was already prized for its durability and strength.
  6. Tree of Life – The magkono gains little title for being the source of livelihood for several communities in Surigao del Sur.  They use it for their woodcraft, although the people use abandoned slabs of magkono instead.  Wood artists fashion magkono wood into commercial products such as chopping boards, centrepieces, paperweights, and other elaborate pieces.  The magkono tree is not just one of the valuable hardwood trees that we have today; it’s also an important part of the cultural landscape in Surigao del Sur.  The iron wood is the representation of the resiliency and strength of the Surigao people.” ---

The magkono tree of Surigao del Sur can be likened and considered a “David” compared to the mighty “Goliath” red woods of the western United States.  But dwarfed as it is, we can bet a sure win that the magkono tree could outlive the red wood because of its unique characteristics. 

This article aims to spread vital information about the magkono tree in an effort to increase the level of awareness on the true value of this rare tree species… a tree that is worth protecting and preserving.  It remains to be the pride, not only of the Surigaonons but, of the Filipino people… Magkono: The Iron Wood Tree.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders on Facebook or follow me at and

REFERENCE:, (2015). “Six Facts About Surigao del Sur’s Magkono, the Iron Wood Tree in the Philippines”. Retrieved on September 7, 2015 from

No comments:

Post a Comment