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Iroko is a medium density wood with white sapwood that is sharply demarcated from the heartwood. The heartwood is golden-orange to brown in color and darkens with age. The wood can at times be colored with yellow bands of soft tissue that form a zigzag pattern on all surfaces, plus darker colored surrounding materials are usually present. The wood has a medium to moderately coarse texture with a grain that is typically interlocked or crossed.

Formal Name: Chlorophora excelsa

Other Names: African Teak, Kambala, Chen d’Afrique, Odum, African Oak


Iroko is found in tropical areas of East and West Africa, Angola, the Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaire, Zimbabwe and the Ivory Coast.

Working Properties

Iroko works satisfactorily with hand tools, with a moderate to severe blunting effect on cutting edges due to the presence of occasional deposits of calcium carbonate. Because of these deposits, machining properties, such as planing, turning, moulding, and boring, are generally good, but variable. The interlocked grain may lead to some tearing in material. Iroko has good nailing properties and satisfactory screwing properties. A good finish requires some surface preparation, including degreasing, after which it can be stained well or varnished.