Iroko tree appearance wood uses and lumber
Iroko trees are common throughout the lower western parts of tropical Africa. These fast growing trees grows on low altitudes often near rivers or lakes. Iroko is also called African teak and one of the most important lumber trees of Africa. Excessive and illegal loggings have declined the species but luckily trees also grow on plantations. The scientific name of iroko is milicia excelsa and in is part of the moraceae family.
Iroko tree, leaf and fruit description
The iroko tree can grow to heights up to 180 feet or 55 meters. The tree is not evergreen but classed as deciduous and won't have leaves all year.
The leaves are alternate arranged and elliptic shaped. Iroko leaves can reach lengths up to 8.2 inches or 21 cm and vary in color from light to dark pale green.
Fruits of the iroko tree are fleshy and elliptic shaped and highly nutritious. Fruit bats and squirrels love the sweet taste of the iroko fruits. Natives also use the fruits to make refreshing drinks and local recipes.
Iroko tree bark and trunk
Yong trees have smooth grey green bark. Older trees have rough scaly dark grey to brown black bark. The trunk of tall iroko trees is long and straight and free of branches the first 50 to 65 feet or 15 to 20 meters. The diameter of the trunk depends on the age of the tree. Old trees can have trunks with a diameter up to 8.2 feet or 2.5 meters.
Iroko wood properties and durability
Fresh iroko heartwood is light to dark brown colored. The sapwood is paler more light brown colored. Exposure to sunlight gives both wood types a darker and intense color. Iroko wood is known for its interlocked grain and moderately coarse texture, medium hardness, high strength and good decay resistance. The average dried weight of the wood at a moisture content of 12% is 650 kg per cubic meter. The durability of iroko wood is classed as I high durability.
Iroko wood working tips and uses
Iroko wood is one of the most used tropical hardwoods from Africa. It works well both by hand and machine despite its hardness.
Sharp tools are recommended because the lumber can have a blunting effect on cutting tools.
Pre drilling is always advised when screws or nails are used. Iroko wood is used in a wide range of products like
- table tops
- kitchen cabins
- and more