The use of teak (Tectona grandis) in Thailand dates back many centuries. Its favorable properties, including strength and resistance to pests and disease, made it a natural choice for use in buildings and furniture, while its fine grain traditionally lent itself to intricate carving. However, reckless overlogging has led to disastrous defores tation, and, as a result, most commercial teak logging and export was banned in 1989. Pockets of teak may still be seen in its natural habitat – low-lying deciduous forests of up to 1,950 ft (600 m) in elevation, with rich, moist soil (such forest is characteristic of Northern Thailand) – or in large new plantations. The trees are easily recognizable by their huge size – they can grow up to 131 ft (40 m) when mature – and by their large, floppy leaves, which fall off during the dry period of November to May. Thailand’s historic use of teak is evident in rural parts of the country, as in the old wooden houses of provincial towns, including Phrae and Ngao, both located in the North.