Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Afzelia spp. (Afzelia, doussié)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-CAESALPINIOIDEAE. Afzelia africana Smith ex Pers., A. bella Harms, A. bipindensis Harms, A. pachyloba Harms, A. quanzensis Welw. Trade and local names: afzelia (DE, GB, NL), doussié, doussié rouge (CM, FR), apa (NG), chamfuta (MZ), lingue (CI, FR), ovala (AO), azodau (CI). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: tropical Africa (A. quanzensis East Africa, remaining species West Africa).

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct (growthring limits demarcated by marginal parenchyma bands). Heartwood basically brown to red, without streaks. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Odour indistinct or absent. Density 0.7–0.78–0.88 g/cm³. Conspicuous interlocked grain.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 100–180–270 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 6–8 µm, vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels absent. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present, yellowish to brownish.

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls or common in both radial and tangential walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal), fine, up to three cells wide. Marginal parenchyma bands very fine, not always continuous. Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma aliform to confluent. Aliform parenchyma lozenge. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 2–6.

Rays. Rays 5–8 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), (1–)2–3(–4) cells wide. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent.

Storied structures. Storied structure present (rarely) or absent, all rays storied, axial parenchyma not storied.

Secretory structures. Intercellular canals absent.

Cambial variants. Included phloem absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood yellow fluorescent (except A. bipindensis). Heartwood extractives not leachable by water.

Illustrations. • Macro images. Afzelia bipindensis. transverse. tangential. • Transverse section. Afzelia africana. • Tangential section. Afzelia africana. • Radial section. Afzelia africana.


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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