Common Name(s): Afrormosia, Afromosia, African Teak
Scientific Name: Pericopsis elata
Distribution: West Africa
Tree Size: 150 ft (46 m) tall, 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 45 lbs/ft3 (720 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .57, .72
Janka Hardness: 1,560 lbf (6,940 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 13,300 lbf/in2 (91.7 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,590,000 lbf/in2 (10.97 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 9,730 lbf/in2 (67.1 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.0%, Tangential: 6.4%, Volumetric: 10.7%, T/R Ratio: 2.1
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is typically a yellowish brown, occasion will have an either reddish or olive hue. Color tends to darken with age.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, though it can also be interlocked. With a fine uniform texture and good natural luster.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small to medium pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; heartwood deposits occasionally present; growth rings may be distinct due to seemingly marginal parenchyma; rays not visible without lens; paratracheal parenchyma vasicentric, aliform (winged or lozenge), and frequently confluent.
Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable regarding decay resistance, and is also resistant to termites and other insects.
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 tightly controlled. It’s usually available as lumber in good sizes. Prices are medium to high for an imported African 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, Afrormosia is sometimes referred to as “African Teak,” though it is not closely related to genuine Teak (Tectona grandis). Afrormosia does look somewhat similar to Teak, has similar working and mechanical properties, and is extremely durable in outdoor applications; for these reasons, it’s used with a fair degree of success as a substitute for Teak.
Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Justin Holden for providing the wood sample of this wood species.