Common Name(s): Okoume, gabon
Scientific Name: Aucoumea klaineana
Distribution: Central Africa (primarily Gabon)
Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall,
3-6 ft (1-1.8 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 27 lbs/ft3 (430 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): 0.35, 0.43
Janka Hardness: 400 lbf (1,790 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 10,870 lbf/in2 (75 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,228,000 lbf/in2 (8.47 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,250 lbf/in2 (36.2 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.6%, Tangential: 7.1%,
Volumetric: 12.2%, T/R Ratio: 1.5
Color/Appearance: Heartwood ranges from a pale pink to light brown. Color darkens with age. Narrow heartwood is grayish white, not clearly demarcated from heartwood. The grain patterns can bear a resemblance to mahogany, and one of okoume’s lesser-used commercial names is Gaboon mahogany, though it bears no relation to either African mahogany (Khaya spp.) or the New World Swietenia species.
Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to wavy or slightly interlocked. Texture is medium, with good natural luster.
Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable; poor insect resistance.
Workability: High silica content has a pronounced blunting effect on cutters. Planing and shaping may produce tearout or fuzzy surfaces. Glues and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, okoume has been reported to cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as other effects such as asthma-like symptoms, coughing, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). These hazards are especially pertinent as okoume is often processed locally in workplaces with minimal safety standards.Comlan, P., Ezinah, F., Wezet, G. N., Anyunzoghe, E. S., & Ossoubita, B. O. (2007). Occupational health and safety problems among workers in wood processing enterprises of Libreville, Gabon. … Continue reading See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Most commonly sold as veneer and/or plywood, okoume should be moderately priced for an imported hardwood, though highly figured pieces of veneer or solid wood are much more expensive.
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, plywood, boatbuilding, musical instruments, furniture, and interior millwork.
Comments: Sometimes simply called gabon or gaboon (not to be confused with Gaboon ebony), the wood is commercially important in the country of Gabon, where it’s the principle timber species.Collomb, J. G. (2000). A first look at logging in Gabon. World Resources Institute.Guidosse, Q., Du Jardin, P., White, L., Lassois, L., & Doucet, J. L. (2022). Gabon’s green gold: a bibliographical review of thirty years of research on okoumé (Aucoumea klaineana … Continue reading Even though it’s used almost exclusively in veneer form in North America, exports of both veneer and solid lumber are much more common in Asia and Europe.
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Porosity: diffuse porous
Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples
Vessels: large to very large, few to very few; tyloses occasionally present
Parenchyma: generally not visible, even with hand lens
Rays: narrow width; normal spacing; storied rays present
Lookalikes/Substitutes: Okoume can bear a close resemblance to true mahogany (Swietenia spp.) and mahogany-like woods, and given it’s natural range in Central Africa, it’s most likely to get confused with Khaya ivorensis, a similarly lightweight species with partially overlapping distribution. Generally, Khaya species will be 25-50% heavier (depending on species and growing conditions), as well as feature wider and more prominent rays.
|↑1||Comlan, P., Ezinah, F., Wezet, G. N., Anyunzoghe, E. S., & Ossoubita, B. O. (2007). Occupational health and safety problems among workers in wood processing enterprises of Libreville, Gabon. African Newsletter, 17(2), 44-46.|
|↑2||Collomb, J. G. (2000). A first look at logging in Gabon. World Resources Institute.|
|↑3||Guidosse, Q., Du Jardin, P., White, L., Lassois, L., & Doucet, J. L. (2022). Gabon’s green gold: a bibliographical review of thirty years of research on okoumé (Aucoumea klaineana Pierre). Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement, 26(1).|