Common Name(s): Afzelia, doussie
Scientific Name: Afzelia spp.
Tree Size: 80-120 ft (25-37 m) tall,
3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 50.1 lbs/ft3 (805 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .67, .80
Janka Hardness: 1,810 lbf (8,050 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 17,740 lbf/in2 (122.3 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 2,094,000 lbf/in2 (14.44 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 10,750 lbf/in2 (74.1 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 2.3%, Tangential: 3.9%,
Volumetric: 6.3%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a reddish brown. Well defined sapwood is a pale yellowish white. Color tends to darken with age. Most pieces of African afzelia occur as unfigured lumber, while burls and figured pieces with pommele or blister figure are usually Asian afzelia species sold under the name afzelia xylay.
Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked with a uniform medium to coarse texture; naturally lustrous.
Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable. Moderately resistant to termites and marine borers, and variously resistant/susceptible to other insect attacks.
Workability: Generally considered somewhat difficult to work on account of its interlocked grain, causing tearout during machining operations. Afzelia also has a pronounced dulling effect on cutters. Gluing and finishing can be variable, and some species contain water-soluble yellow deposits in the pores which can pose challenges in staining or finishing with water-based products.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, afzelia has been reported to cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as sneezing. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Prices for clear lumber tend to be moderate for an imported hardwood, though figured wood and burls are much more expensive.
Sustainability: Afzelia species are listed in CITES Appendix II under the genus-wide restriction of all Afzelia species from Africa. Also, a handful of African species in the Afzelia genus are on the IUCN Red List. Afzelia africana, A. bipindensis, and A. pachyloba are all listed as vulnerable, while A. bella and A. parviflora are reported as being species of least concern.
Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, veneer, flooring, docks, boatbuilding, exterior millwork and construction, turned objects, inlays, and other small specialty wood items.
As a commercial timber, afzelia is much more frequently exported from Africa, though some highly figured pieces of afzelia from Asia are also seen on the international market—usually bearing the name afzelia xylay or xylay lace. Most afzelia burls are also of Asian origin.
Porosity: diffuse porous
Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples
Vessels: large to very large, few to very few; yellowish brown heartwood deposits present
Parenchyma: vasicentric, lozenge, confluent, and marginal
Rays: narrow, normal spacing
Lookalikes/Substitutes: Afzelia is closely related to merbau (though now in the Intsia genus, merbau was formerly placed in the Afzelia genus). Merbau generally has a darker heartwood color and conspicuous yellow mineral deposits.
Notes: Much like chanfuta (another African species of Afzelia), heartwood is weakly fluorescent, but not consistently so. Asian species of Afzelia tend to display a stronger and more consistent fluorescent response.