Common Name(s): Zebrawood, Zebrano
Scientific Name: Microberlinia brazzavillensis
Distribution: West Africa
Tree Size: 65-130 ft (20-40 m) tall, 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 50 lbs/ft3 (805 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .67, .81
Janka Hardness: 1,830 lbf (8,160 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 17,800 lbf/in2 (122.8 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 2,374,000 lbf/in2 (16.37 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 9,210 lbf/in2 (63.5 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 7.6%, Tangential: 10.8%, Volumetric: 17.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light brown or cream color with dark blackish brown streaks vaguely resembling a zebra’s stripes. Depending on whether the wood is flatsawn or quartersawn, the stripes can be either chaotic and wavy (flatsawn), or somewhat uniform (quartersawn).
Grain/Texture: Has a fairly coarse texture and open pores. Grain is usually wavy or interlocked.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, few to very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; heartwood deposits (brown) occasionally present; narrow rays not visible without lens, spacing fairly close; parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, unilateral, vasicentric, winged, lozenge, and confluent, and banded (marginal).
Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as durable and is also resistant to insect damage.
Workability: The wood saws well, but can be very difficult to plane or surface due to the prevalence of interlocking grain. Tearout is common. Zebrawood glues and finishes well, though a transparent pore filler may be necessary for the large open pores which occur on both dark and light surfaces.
Odor: Has a characteristic, unpleasant smell when being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Zebrawood has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
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. (A closely-related, lesser-used species in Cameroon, Microberlinia bisulcata, is also listed as critically endangered.)
Common Uses: Zebrawood is frequently quartersawn and used as veneer. Other uses include: tool handles, furniture, boatbuilding, and skis.
Comments: Sometimes called Zebrano, the wood is strong and stiff, with a fairly high density. However, the wood is much more frequently used for its bold and unique striping.
Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the turned photo of this wood species.