Common Name(s): Opepe, bilinga
Scientific Name: Nauclea diderrichii
Distribution: Native to tropical Africa; also planted in tropical regions of South America and Pacific Islands
Tree Size: 100-160 ft (30-50 m) tall,
3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 48.2 lbs/ft3 (770 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .63, .77
Janka Hardness: 1,550 lbf (6,890 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 16,870 lbf/in2 (116.3 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,921,000 lbf/in2 (13.25 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 9,480 lbf/in2 (65.3 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.8%, Tangential: 8.1%,
Volumetric: 12.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is golden brown or orange, darkening over time. Sapwood is light yellow and is clearly demarcated from heartwood.
Grain/Texture: Grain is generally interlocked and/or irregular. With a uniform coarse texture with good natural luster.
Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable to very durable; heartwood is reported to have moderate to good resistance to insects and marine borers.
Workability: Moderately easy to work, though care must be taken on quartersawn surfaces or where the grain is highly irregular to avoid tearout. Poor bending properties. Turns, glues, and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, opepe has been reported as a sensitizer. Common reactions include skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as fever, headaches, and other nervous system effects in some individuals. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Usually available in large sizes as structural lumber, boards, flooring planks, or turning/craft blanks. Prices are in the mid range for an imported hardwood.
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: General construction, flooring, furniture, cabinetry, boatbuilding, docks, carving, and turned objects.
Comments: Opepe is used in marine applications, and is sometimes used in place of oak (except in cases where the wood needs to be bent, as it does not respond well to steam bending). Its golden orange color, borer resistance, and large available sizes make it a unique choice for exterior applications.
Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood. (A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample, and Michael Savchak for providing the turned photo of this wood species.)
Porosity: diffuse porous
Arrangement: exclusively solitary
Vessels: large to very large, few to very few
Rays: narrow to medium width; close spacing
Lookalikes/Substitutes: Sometimes used in place of oak for exterior marine applications (though the two are not easily confused).
Notes: Heartwood fluoresces faint to medium yellow/green under blacklight.
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