African wood species range from pinkish-gray to dark brown, offering a wide spectrum of different colors. Their applications are also diverse. Some African wood species, such as Mahogany and Iroko, are frequently used for both interior and exterior construction. Teak wood is employed for bridge building, docks, or semi-wooden structures due to its ability to withstand heavy-duty use. African woods like Iroko are suitable for stairs, furniture, parquet flooring, or boat building.
A notable feature of African wood species is their resistance to pests and fungi. Chemical wood protection against fungi and insects is often unnecessary.
Diverse, durable, and globally applicable – read more about African wood species here.
|Wood Species||Regions||Weight (kg/m³)||Durability|
|Abachi||West and Central Africa||400||5 (Very low)|
|Bilinga||Tropical West and Central Africa||800||1 (Very good)|
|Bongossi||Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Central Africa Republic||1100||2 (Good)|
|Sipo||–||330||5 (Very low)|
|Dabema||West and East Africa||700||3 (Average)|
|Danta||West and Central Africa||1000||1 (Very good)|
|Iroko||Equatorial Africa||690||1-2 (Good to very good)|
|Okoumé||Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo||440||4 (Low)|
|Tali||Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe||970||–|
African Wood Species
Africa is home to a wide variety of woods, each with unique properties and uses. Here are a few examples:
Abachi is one of the most well-known imported woods from the African continent. Abachi has always been a popular choice for interior construction due to its high durability, insulating properties, and lightweight nature. This wood primarily grows and is harvested in the tropical regions of West Africa and Central Africa.
Abachi trees grow directly and, when fully mature, can reach an impressive diameter of up to 2 meters. The wood’s thickness is typically just a few centimeters, similar to pine wood.
Color and Texture of Abachi Wood Freshly cut Abachi heartwood exhibits a light yellow color. The width of Abachi pine wood can reach up to 15 centimeters, with only slight color contrast to the surrounding heartwood. This type of wood has a somewhat porous structure, and growth rings are not very pronounced. Growth zones are not clearly visible. The wood’s rays contribute to its natural radiance and attractive character.
Intermittent spiral grain growth can lead to a glossy figure, but this occurs only to a limited extent with Abachi wood. Color changes due to fungal contamination and wrinkling can occur with this type of wood.
Drying occurs quickly and without any significant defects, but it should be done immediately after cutting to prevent pest infestation.
This is a highly valued hardwood that is prized for its durability, strength, and beauty. It is commonly used for high-end furniture, cabinetry, and musical instruments.
This dark, dense wood is one of the most prized and expensive woods in the world. It is commonly used for musical instrument components, such as fingerboards and bridges, as well as for high-end furniture and decorative objects.
MOABI wood is one of the hardest hardwoods. It is closely related to woods like Makore and Douka and shares a similar color and wood structure with them. However, Moabi clearly surpasses them in terms of weight and strength properties. For this reason, it is often used as a structural wood for outdoor construction.
Color and Texture of Moabi Wood
Freshly cut Moabi heartwood has a reddish to purplish hue. The wood darkens significantly upon exposure to oxygen and turns into a dark reddish-brown color. Pine wood has a light pink to yellowish hue, with a width of 3 to 6 centimeters. The grain is usually smooth. Occasionally, spiral growth and partial surface radiance can occur.
Moabi wood has weak porosity and mild scaling on the radial surface. The wood is exceptionally durable and requires no chemical wood protection against fungi and insects. Drying should be done slowly to prevent cracking. Moabi’s durability ranges from satisfactory to good.”
This durable and weather-resistant hardwood is commonly used for outdoor furniture and decking. It is also used for boat building and construction.
This bright red or orange wood is highly prized for its color and durability. It is commonly used for furniture, flooring, and decorative objects.
This medium to dark reddish-brown wood is commonly used for furniture, cabinetry, and musical instruments.
Color and Texture of BILINGA Wood
Bilinga wood has a width of 3 to 5 centimeters and is yellow, tending towards gray to light orange. The heartwood of Bilinga differs in color from pine wood, displaying a yellow hue with irregular pink streaks. When dry, Bilinga wood darkens in color and transforms into a warm golden-brown.
The pores are coarse and are individually distributed throughout the wood. Fine wood rays can be observed radially on the surface of the wood, which do not significantly affect its appearance. Occasionally, there is intermittent spiral grain growth, and the grains are usually wavy. Bilinga is particularly resistant to pest attacks and fungi.
Uses and Processing of Bilinga Wood
Bilinga is ideal as a robust wood for outdoor construction structures that undergo heavy use, such as for semi-wooden structures, dock construction, beds, or heavy-duty flooring. Bilinga wood decking is also popular in garden design. The wood can also be used indoors once properly dried; however, it is recommended for short lengths and rock-hard cuts.
Additionally, Bilinga can be used in small sizes as a surface veneer for panels and boards. It is not suitable for decorative use, such as making furniture. Tools with tungsten carbide tips ensure smooth processing.
Tali is a hardwood from the African continent found in tropical rainforest regions. It is one of the heavy woods and, as such, can withstand heavy-duty use. This type of wood is primarily produced and traded in countries like Ivory Coast and other African nations such as Ghana, Cameroon, Congo, and Zambia. These trees are evergreen and can grow to a significant height of up to 40 meters when fully mature, with a trunk diameter reaching up to 120 centimeters.
The excellent technical properties of this African wood species allow for a wide range of applications in both indoor and outdoor construction, thanks to its versatility.
This dense, dark wood is known for its exceptional tonal qualities and is commonly used for musical instruments such as clarinets and oboes.
This highly prized wood is known for its beautiful grain patterns and is commonly used for high-end furniture and musical instruments.
Bongossi wood is also known as ‘Azobe.’ It is one of the hardest and heaviest types of wood in West Africa. This wood is highly resistant to wood-damaging fungi and insects, making it exceptionally durable. Azobe’s unique technical properties make it difficult to substitute in various applications.
Color and Texture of BONGOSSI Wood
Freshly cut heartwood of Azobe has a warm reddish-brown color. However, over time, it darkens significantly due to oxygen exposure and becomes a rich chocolate-brown color. In contrast, the narrow 3-centimeter-wide pine wood is reddish-brown. Bongossi wood features strong, irregular, and transparent pores. It is extremely heavy and possesses high strength properties. When dried, it is exceptionally fire-resistant due to its high resistance.
Please note that the transformation of Azobe’s color over time is a distinctive characteristic, and its durability against fire sets it apart in various applications.
Denya tropical wood is primarily found in West and Central Africa and is known for its good durability. It is especially popular in structures that require resistance to heavy use. Denya trees grow directly and can reach a diameter of up to 150 centimeters. The wood’s thickness is typically just a few centimeters, similar to pine wood.
Color and Texture of Denya Wood
Freshly cut heartwood of Denya has a reddish-brown color with some olive tones in certain areas. Upon exposure to oxygen, the wood darkens and turns into a deep brown color. Pinewood, with a width of 5 to 8 centimeters, has a reddish-gray hue, clearly distinguishing it from the heartwood.
The wood features prominent grain patterns with clear spiral growth. Overall, it has a coarse texture with high density. Distinctive pores on the surface run lengthwise, and shiny streaks may appear radially.
Denya wood is resistant to termites and fungi. However, in hydraulic engineering, there is no evidence of resistance to marine borers and fungi, although it is recommended as a substitute for Greenheart wood in hydraulic engineering.”
Ceiba wood is a common type of wood found worldwide. It originates from tropical rainforests in the Americas and the Caribbean. It held special significance for indigenous peoples here, as they saw the large Ceiba tree as a spiritual connection between the three worlds (heaven, earth, and the realm of the deceased). Centuries ago, the wood was highly favored and used for furniture making. Consequently, seed fibers were exported to Asia and Africa in the early years and successfully cultivated.
Today, this wood is primarily found in the Americas and Africa. Ceiba trees grow directly and can reach a diameter of up to 250 centimeters. The wood’s thickness is typically just a few centimeters, similar to pine wood. A Ceiba tree can grow up to 75 meters in height, making it one of the largest trees in tropical rainforests.
wood in South Africa
South Africa is home to a variety of wood species, both indigenous and exotic. Here are a few examples:
- Yellowwood: This is one of South Africa’s most prized indigenous woods, known for its strength, durability, and beautiful golden color. It is commonly used for furniture, flooring, and decorative objects.
- Kiaat: This is another indigenous wood that is highly valued for its strength and durability. It is commonly used for furniture, flooring, and cabinetry.
- Cape Beech: This indigenous wood is known for its beautiful grain patterns and is commonly used for furniture and decorative objects.
- Oak: This is an exotic wood species that is commonly used for furniture, flooring, and cabinetry. It is prized for its strength and durability.
- Pine wood: This is a commonly used wood species in South Africa, particularly for construction and outdoor applications such as decking and fencing.
- Teak wood: This exotic wood species is highly valued for its durability and weather resistance. It is commonly used for outdoor furniture and decking.
- Meranti: This is an exotic wood species that is commonly used for interior and exterior doors, window frames, and furniture.
These are just a few examples of the many types of wood found in South Africa. Each type of wood has unique properties that make it well-suited for different applications, and they are all important resources for the country’s economy and culture.
What wood is used in South Africa?
Are you planning a project and wondering whether you should use African wood? In this article, we explain the characteristics of wood species like Dabema, Moabi, or Bilinga and why African Mahogany wood, in particular, is suitable for sauna construction.
What sets African wood species apart from local wood?
First and foremost, the natural question arises: why should one buy wood from distant regions for home improvement projects? Beyond this, there is a wide selection of local wood types, each suitable for specific purposes due to their unique properties. However, some African wood species, as well as other exotic woods, have distinct selling points when compared to native woods in their home country. These distinctions include:
- Unique Wood Density: African wood species often have specific wood densities that make them stand out.
- Extraordinary Wood Colors: African woods can exhibit exceptional wood colors.
- Special Grain Patterns: Some African woods feature distinctive grain patterns.
- Exceptional Durability and Hardiness: African woods can be exceptionally durable and resistant to wear and tear.
- Less Sensitivity to Surface Damage: African woods may be less sensitive to surface damage.
These unique qualities make African wood species, and other exotic woods, desirable choices for various applications.”
What is the most common timber South Africa?
South African wood for furniture
Common South African woods used for furniture include African Blackwood, African Teak, Kiaat, Rhodesian Teak, and Yellowwood.
What is the most common timber South Africa?
Soft wood for carving South Africa
Softwoods that are commonly used for carving in South Africa include pine, poplar, basswood, and balsa. Other woods that can be used for carving include cypress, cedar, and mahogany.