Latin name: Afzelia spp


Also known as: doussie (Cameroons and France), aligna (Nigeria), Welw chamfuta, mussacossa (Mozambique), mbembakofi, mkora (Tanzania)

Wood Type:



Very durable


Extremely difficult, Moderately easy (Sapwood)

Moisture Movement:


Density (mean, Kg/m³):

830 (Density can vary by 20% or more)


Medium to coarse


Limited availability at specialist timber merchant



Chemical Properties:

Exudes yellow dye in damp conditions


Cladding, Joinery - Exterior, Joinery - Interior


Reddish brown

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The trade name afzelia has been proposed for all species of this genus. In practice the West African species are usually grouped together as a single commercial timber. The East African species is usually marketed separately.



Several species of Afzelia spp are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as as VU – Vunerable: at risk of extinction or EN – Endangered: at very high risk of extinction.



Afzelia is a transition species found between the Savannah forest of dry areas and the dense forests of humid regions. It occurs throughout West Africa, Uganda and parts of Tanzania.


The tree

The West African species attain their greatest size in the moist deciduous forest, with a height of 12m to 18m and a diameter of 1.0m but the bole is relatively short, and rarely straight. In East Africa, it is found mainly in coastal, lowland, and Savannah type forests, and is generally smaller, with the bole, above the buttressed base usually about 4.5m high and with a diameter of 1.0m.


The timber

The various species of afzelia are very similar in appearance. The sapwood is pale straw-coloured and sharply defined from the light-brown heartwood; the latter often becomes dark red-brown on exposure. Mottle and other figure is frequently present. The grain is irregular and often interlocked and the texture is coarse but even. It is a hard and moderately heavy wood, weighing about 830 kg/m³ when dried. Afzelia is an exceptionally stable wood, being comparable to teak in this respect.



Species can be kiln dried satisfactorily, but slowly from the green condition. Degrade is not likely to be severe, slight distortion may occur with some fine checking and extension of shakes.



A strong timber, with strength properties comparable with those of oak.


Working qualities

Medium to difficult - Somewhat hard to work, but produces a good finish and may be polished to a very attractive appearance.


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