Other Names

Sapele woods (Nigeria); Aboudigro (Ivory Coast); Sapelli (Cameroons)


It is found in the rain forest of West Africa from the Ivory Coast through Ghana and Nigeria to the Cameroons, and it extends eastwards to Uganda and Tanzania.

The Tree

Avery large tree with cylindrical bole and small or no buttresses. Grows to a height of 45m or more, and a diameter at breast height of 1m or slightly more.

The Timber

The sapwood is pale yellow or whitish, the heartwood pinkish when freshly cut, darkening to typical mahogany colour of reddish brown. Sapelli is characterized by a marked and regular stripe, particularly pronounced on quarter sawn surfaces. Occasionally mottle figure is present. It is fairly close texture, and the grain is interlocked. It is harder and heavier than African mahogany, weighing about 640kg/m3 when dried. It has pronounced cedar-like scent when freshly cut.


The timber dries rapidly with a marked tendency to distort. Quarter sawn materialist less liable to degrade in drying.


Sapelli is much harder than African or American Mahogany and in resistance to indentation, bending strength, stiffness, and resistance to shock loads, is practically equal with English Oak.


Moderately durable.

Working Qualities

Works fairly well with hand and machine tools, but the interlocked grain is often troublesome in planing and molding, and a reduction of cutting angle to 15 degrees is needed to obtain a good finish. It takes screws and nails well, glues satisfactorily, stains, readily, and takes an excellent polish.


Constructional and decorative veneer, furniture, cabinet making, shop fitting, boat building, paneling, flooring, joinery.