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1 Teak in Central America

The first report on introduction of teak seed in Central America is from 1926, when it was planted in the Summit Botanical Garden of the former Channel Zone (Gutiérrez and Cordovéz 1978, mentioned by Morán 1998). According to the same authors, the seed came from Colombo, probably from the Paranaeniya Botanical Garden (Weidema 1966).

This place of provenience, that has been called Ceylon - Panama or Sri Lanka - Panama, gave way to teak plantations located in farms dedicated to the banana production of the Chiriquí Land Company. Furthermore, the Good Year Company, dedicated to establish rubber plantations, also planted teak.

Gutiérrez and Cordovéz (1978), mentioned by Morán (1998), report the shipment of seeds from the Summit Botanical Garden to 11 Central and South American countries and the Caribbean during the period between 1936-1948. The United Fruit Company purchased the seed in February of 1943. Records from the Botanical Garden indicate a second shipment to R.A. Nichols, at the IICA, Turrialba, in April of 1943. By 1967, the Forest Development Project in select zones directed by FAO/UNDP/ITCO used seeds from five places of origin: Honduras, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Quepos (Costa Rica) and Nicoya (Costa Rica).

The date of introduction of the first teak seed in El Salvador is unknown. A more detailed reference mentioned by Keogh (1997b) places the introduction of seeds in 1950, originally from Puerto Rico and Honduras. Reports do not specify if teak seeds actually came from both countries or from one of them. Other versions indicated that the first seeds came from Burma and Trinidad (Zambrana 1998). Nevertheless, it is possible that the seed from Honduras came from the trees planted with seed from Panama and any other source between 1942 and 1943.

There are no reports, in Honduras and Nicaragua, of commercial teak plantation. Guatemala reports a planted area no bigger than 2,000 hectares.

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