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.

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

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses common; growth rings indistinct; rays visible without lens; 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 occasionally 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)