Common Name(s): Afrormosia, afromosia, African teak
Scientific Name: Pericopsis elata
Distribution: West Africa
Tree Size: 100-150 ft (30-46 m) tall,
3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 45.3 lbs/ft3 (725 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): 0.57, 0.72
Janka Hardness: 1,570 lbf (6,980 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 14,920 lbf/in2 (100.9 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,715,000 lbf/in2 (11.83 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 9,570 lbf/in2 (66 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.2%, Tangential: 6.2%,
Volumetric: 9.9%, T/R Ratio: 1.9
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is yellowish brown, occasionally with a reddish or olive-colored hue, darkening with age. Narrow sapwood is pale yellow and is clearly differentiated from the heartwood.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, though it can be interlocked. With a fine, uniform texture and good natural luster.
Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable, with good insect/borer resistance.
Workability: In nearly all regards, afrormosia is easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though surfacing boards with interlocking grain may cause tearout. Other downsides include a slight blunting effect on cutting edges, and the development of dark stains if left in contact with iron in damp conditions. Afrormosia turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor: Afrormosia has a distinct odor while being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, afrormosia has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Afrormosia has also been known to cause nervous system effects, asthma-like symptoms, as well as splinters having an increased chance of getting infected. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Trade of this species is currently regulated and tightly controlled—though still available as lumber in good sizes. Prices are medium to high for an imported hardwood.
Sustainability: This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.
Common Uses: Boatbuilding, veneer, flooring, and furniture.
Comments: Along with iroko (Milicia excelsa), afrormosia is sometimes referred to as African teak, though neither are closely related to genuine teak (Tectona grandis). Compared to teak, afrormosia has similar weight and strength, nearly comparable rot resistance, and a similar appearance (though some pieces can be a yellower golden brown and more closely resemble satinwood, especially when freshly sawed). However, though afrormosia is a lower-cost alternative to genuine teak, it is in itself threatened and is CITES protected.
Another closely related species, Pericopsis laxiflora, is a much smaller tree not protected under CITES. It yields similar lumber, though it has little commercial potential due to its small size.
Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood. The top set shows a flatsawn sample, while the lower sample is quartersawn.
A special thanks to Justin Holden for providing a wood sample of this wood species.
Porosity: diffuse porous
Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples
Vessels: medium to large, few to moderately numerous; brown heartwood deposits occasionally present
Parenchyma: vasicentric, lozenge, confluent, and unilateral
Rays: narrow width (generally not visible without magnification); normal spacing
Lookalikes/Substitutes: Afrormosia is used as a teak substitute, though teak tends to be semi-ring porous, and lacks the lozenge and confluent parenchyma seen in afrormosia. Iroko is another wood that sometimes shares the common name African teak with afrormosia, and can have a very similar appearance, though iroko has larger, less numerous pores. Afrormosia can also be confused with satinwoods (see article for more details).