Iroko (Chlorophora excelsa)

Iroko (Milicia excelsa)

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Common Name(s): Iroko

Scientific Name: Milicia excelsa, M. regia (syn. Chlorophora excelsa, C. regia)

Distribution: Tropical Africa

Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 41 lbs/ft3 (660 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .55, .66

Janka Hardness: 1,260 lbf (5,610 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 12,700 lbf/in2 (87.6 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,360,000 lbf/in2 (9.38 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 7,840 lbf/in2 (54.0 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 2.8%, Tangential: 3.8%, Volumetric: 8.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is usually a yellow to golden or medium brown, with color tending to darken over time. Pale yellow sapwood is clearly demarcated from the heartwood.

Grain/Texture: Iroko has a medium to coarse texture, with open pores and an interlocked grain.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, very few to few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses common; growth rings indistinct; medium rays visible without lens, spacing wide to normal; parenchyma banded, paratracheal parenchyma vasicentric, aliform (winged and lozenge), and confluent.

Rot Resistance: Iroko is very durable, and is resistant to both rot and insect attack; it’s sometimes used as a substitute for Teak.

Workability: Generally easy to work, with the exception of its interlocked grain, which may cause some tearout during surfacing operations. Also, deposits of calcium carbonate are sometimes present, which can have a significant dulling effect on cutters. Iroko glues and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Iroko has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Iroko can  also cause other health effects in sensitive individuals, such as asthma-like symptoms, boils, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Iroko is imported and available for a moderate price. Veneer can also be seen for sale, and is likewise affordably priced.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

Common Uses: Veneer, flooring, furniture, cabinetry, boatbuilding, turned items, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: Given the high prices of genuine Teak, Iroko could be considered a low-cost alternative. The wood is stable, durable, and has an overall look that somewhat resembles Teak.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Justin Holden for providing a wood sample (quartersawn), and also to Steve Earis for providing a wood sample and the turned photo of this wood species.

Iroko (sanded)

Iroko (sanded)

Iroko (sealed)

Iroko (sealed)

Iroko (endgrain)

Iroko (endgrain)

Iroko (endgrain 10x)

Iroko (endgrain 10x)

Iroko (quartersawn)

Iroko (quartersawn)

Iroko (turned)

Iroko (turned)

19 Comments

  1. theuns January 26, 2018 at 2:22 am - Reply

    Hi ,

    If Iroko that is air dried is transported by ship in a container ,would the wood have any damage in any way due to the moisture content at sea .Will the planks go skew or change colour ,would like to know please

  2. Simon Borg April 26, 2016 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Does anyone know if this wood would be suitable as kitchen bench tops, if adequately varnished? I read the comments below about chopping boards, but the application I have in mind would mean that the wood is treated so that it is not exposed to water and other liquids. Any comments would be most welcome.

    • arron April 5, 2018 at 8:24 am - Reply

      Iroko is more than appropriate for this application. The material is commonly used in creation of exterior timber gates, benches and decking with or without treatment as it is very durable. I’m a hardwood trader btw.

  3. Ali Sadaqat March 9, 2015 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    I’m building my new home this year 2015. Someone recommend me Iroko for doors. I’m looking for advise that can i use Iroko for my doors in indoor and outdoor. I want to know should it behave good of shrinkage durabilty and termite resistant?
    Looking for your advise..
    Regards

  4. john warner July 10, 2013 at 4:04 am - Reply

    Does anybody know whether Iroko works for xylophones or Marimbas? I know Ipe has a very resonant ring, but I’m reluctant to use it because of its endangered status.

    Thanks. John Warner.
    Murrumbateman. NSW. Australia

    • Avner Tzur March 26, 2017 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      John,
      Ipe: where did you see it is endangered?
      We sell it to various destinations duly authorised by the Govt.
      Thanks/Avner

    • Joseph palas April 17, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

      Iroko is not a tone wood. Ipe is 2 or 3 times as hard as iroko.

    • Joseph palas April 17, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      Ipe is not endangered

  5. John Dickie June 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I have been making outdoor furniture with Iroko for 24 years

  6. John Dickie June 13, 2013 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    For exposed condititions I would say a Max of 100mm wide planks, preferably quarter sawn

  7. John Robinson June 12, 2013 at 10:39 am - Reply

    I am working on a new construction of a large beautiful home, as a paint contractor for over 40 years of experience.

    The mill work contractor built exterior stairs steps and at the top a large top deck step/platform of Iroka wood, about four foot wide and five foot long, 1 1/2 thick, to fit into the metal stair Skelton.

    I researched what exterior stain would be best suited for application that not only sealed but you where able to walk on surface. Was informed by paint supplier that a product called Sikkens in whitch I am very familiar with was the best choice.
    Before carpenters installed we sanded the surface on both sides of course dusted and then applied stain, which instruction say only one coat.
    After a month or so the steps where in good shape but top large flat platform warped and pulled loose. It is exposed to hot sun most of the day and lots of rain and humidity.
    My question is Iroka wood recommended for this kind od use.

    Thank you John Robinson Painting

  8. Lizzie Speed May 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    When we built our house over ten years ago, we had iroko wood work surfaces in the kitchen. Oiled with Danish oil, it looked fantastic and survived anything we could throw at it. I’d certainly use it again.

    Lizzie

  9. John Dickie April 25, 2013 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Investigate a floor finish called Bona-really tough

  10. Helen Botha April 24, 2013 at 3:27 am - Reply

    I need to send a specification to an architect of how one would coat Iroka on a staircase to keep it from getting damaged. Do you have any recommendations. Also to the walls which will be Iroka veneer what coating should be used ?

    Regards
    Helen

  11. Ryan April 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Iv been recomended iroko for a project at home by carpenter i generally use but was just looking for adtional opinions and experiences.

    im basically re pebbledashing the front of our house as existing has had it, in the centre is what i think you would call a mock tudor frame decorative pattern that is presently made up of pine planks but these have rotted twisted and shrunk into oblivion.

    theyre about 2 inch think and are 6 3/4 inch to 7 3/4 wide and will be painted black to put match how it was built in the twentys.

    so would just like to know if iroko is a good choice and iv also been told alumium primer is a good idea??

    thanks for any advice

  12. Mike February 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Keith;

    In answer to your question I would say no. It has an oil which can also be toxic and the open pores make a nice home for bacteria.

    I use this is boat building and it is great for cockpits, rails, etc resisting rot and bugs but I would not use it near any food prep.

    • Peter February 24, 2014 at 7:54 am - Reply

      Hi Mike

      Using IROKO in boat structures, can you also recommend using it for deck plank on Mahogany classic boat?

  13. Keith Gibson February 7, 2013 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Is this wood suitable for chopping boards/butchers blocks…?

  14. John Dickie October 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    internal stresses can cause difficulties.mild steam bending possible.

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