Limba (Terminalia superba)
Limba (Terminalia superba)

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Common Name(s): Limba, Black Limba, White Limba, Korina, Afara

Scientific Name: Terminalia superba

Distribution: Tropical western Africa

Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 5-7 ft (1.5-2.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3 (555 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .43, .56

Janka Hardness: 670 lbf (2,990 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 12,510 lbf/in2 (86.2 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,520,000 lbf/in2 (10.49 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,580 lbf/in2 (45.4 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.3%, Tangential: 6.3%, Volumetric: 10.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light yellowish to golden brown, sometimes with grey to nearly black streaks and veins. Wood with such darker figuring is referred to as Black Limba, while plain unfigured wood is called White Limba. Sapwood is a pale greyish to yellowish brown, not clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Color tends to darken with age.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to slightly interlocked, with a uniformly coarse texture. Moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; medium to large pores in no specific arrangement, very few; tyloses and other heartwood deposits common; parenchyma vasicentric, winged, confluent, and sometimes banded; narrow rays, spacing fairly close.

Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable, and also susceptible to insect attack.

Workability: Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Contains a small amount of silica, but blunting effect on cutters is usually small. Glues and finishes well.

Odor: Limba has a mild odor while being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Limba has been reported to cause skin irritation and respiratory irritation, as well hives, asthma-like symptoms, and bleeding of the nose and gums. Splinters also tend to become infected and take longer than usual to heal. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: In relatively good supply and available in board and veneer form. Prices are moderate for an imported hardwood, though figured wood such as Black Limba is likely to be more expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, furniture, musical instruments (electric guitar bodies), and turned objects.

Comments: This wood goes by a number of names, and historically has been called Afara or Korina, in addition to its now-prevalent moniker Limba.

Related Species:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the veneer sample of this wood species (White Limba).

Limba (Terminalia superba)
Black Limba (sanded)

Black Limba (sealed)
Black Limba (sealed)

White Limba (sanded)
White Limba (sanded)

White Limba (sealed)
White Limba (sealed)

Limba (endgrain)
Limba (endgrain)

Limba (endgrain 10x)
Limba (endgrain 10x)

Black Limba and Queenwood bandsaw box
Black Limba and Queenwood bandsaw box
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Billy Youngman

It’s amazing how many lumber yards never heard of it. It was very common in the woodworking shops in Kansas schools. Made great gun racks.?

Dean Simmons

I have a beautiful Taylor 414ce LTD 2019 that is Black Limba back and sides. Thought I’d share. Thanks for the article.

Ryan Bates

Black Limba cutting board. Bordered by Ziricote and Zebra / Wenge stripes

Stephen Ondich

The Black Limba grain patterns are hypnotizing. We’re looking at book-matched end-grain cuts, right? I’m seeing the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (top center) flanked by bats on his left and right. A flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz (top right). Two screaming meerkats on the bottom row.

A very creative use of color & grain variation. Well done!

Mark R. Garner

I have an Epiphone Flying V “1958 Korina V” and it’s beautiful. The body is light as a feather and the tone is magnificent.

Trevor Reed

I had a bass body custom built out of limba (black korina). The wood takes die really well and has great tone!

Ernest Lephart

Thanks for the information. I made a gun cabinet and black powder pistol box out of this wood back in 1971. That was my 10th grade project for wood shop.