Afzelia Wood (Afzelia spp.) Uses, Properties, Pros and Cons

Afzelia is the most useful hardwood used for general construction, making cabinets, and flooring, among other things, because of how it is made.

This article is all about Afzelia wood. It talks about the unique qualities of African wood and all the amazing things you can do with it.

People who want to learn more about this amazing wood can read this blog. It has much information about this beautiful hardwood’s history, background, and traits.

Afzelia Wood General properties

Afzelia is a group of plants in the family of Fabaceae. The thirteen species are all trees native to tropical Africa or Asia. Most Afzelia species are used for their wood, but some species are also used to make medicines.

The red-brown heartwood is different from the pale straw-colored sapwood. The heartwood turns a color like mahogany when it is exposed to air.

The grain is uneven and tangled, giving the wood a coarse, even texture. Yellow or white deposits can cause stains. Afzelia is a wood that can be used in many different ways.

Afzelia can be used to make furniture, joinery, shop fitting, etc. Afzelia has a tolerable bending rating because it is likely to warp and leak resin during streaming. High crushing and bending strength, low resistance to shock loads, and medium stiffness.

It polishes well when the grain is filled but is hard to stain.

Afzelia is sold under other names.

One common name is “pod mahogany,” which makes it even harder to understand what mahogany means.

Most pieces of African afzelia are unfigured lumber, while burls and figured pieces with pommele or blister figures are usually Asian afzelia species sold as afzelia xylay.

Most of the time, the wood is traded under the names “doussie” and “afzelia.”


The overall look is also very good, and the colors work well in any setting.

It sometimes has clear patches close to the surface that look like flames. Because of its appearance, it is perfect for luxury objects and furniture, finely made items, and cabinets.


There isn’t much Afzelia lumber available at specialty lumber stores. Afzelia is exported from Africa much more often as commercial wood.

But highly patterned pieces of afzelia from Asia can also be found on the international market. These pieces are usually called afzelia xylay or xylay lace. Afzelia burls are also mostly from Asia.


Imported hardwood usually has moderate prices for clear lumber, but figured wood and burls are much more expensive.

(7.9 lb|8-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ x 2-3/4″) Price: $423.99.

XF Afzelia Burl Bowl Blank

(3.2 lb|6-1/8″ x 6-1/8″ x 2″) price: $172.99

Afzelia Burl Turning Square

(2.15 lb|10-7/8″ x 2-3/4″ x 2-3/4″) price: $238.99


Afzelia trees grow in the forests of West and Central Africa, from Liberia in the north to Angola in the south and the Great Lakes region in the east.

Afzelia is a species that lives between the dry Savannah forest and the dense forests of wet areas. It is found in parts of West Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Distribution: West, Central, and East Africa. Occur in the dense evergreen forests but are also common in the savanna and coastal forests of East Africa.


Drying doesn’t usually cause problems unless the wood warps or splits, but it takes a long time for the wood to dry.

Afzelia can be dried and seasoned in some ways, depending on how quickly it is processed after it is cut down and logged, how it is dried, and where it is dried (if air dried).

Usually, the care with which the wood is processed will affect how well it dries and ages.

As a whole, Afzelia can be successfully dried in a kiln if it is dried slowly from a green state.

There might be a little bit of warping, the shaking might get worse, and there might be some small cracks.

Please remember that wood can move when used, and its size can change.

How much this happens will depend on the species, the conditions it is exposed to, the coating, decoration, and protection.


Although a few African Afzelia species are listed on the IUCN Red List, this type of wood is not on the CITES Appendices list.

Afzelia Africana, A. bipindensis, and A. pachyloba are all designated vulnerable, while A. Bella and A. parviflora are listed as species of the least concern.

Is Afzelia hard or softwood        

Type of wood: Hardwood

A common hardwood genus that has species that can be used for business on two different continents. Most of the species come from Africa, but the species of Afzelia are also used as lumber in Asia.

Afzelia is a hardwood that is easy to work with because it is hard to cut. This causes tools to be dull, but not too much.

The wood has a medium shine, and it is rough but smooth. Afzelia wood is one of the most valuable exotic hardwoods because it is so hard and strong.

Afzelia wood stain          

Although it is challenging to stain, it polishes (finishes) quite well when the grain is filled. Wood is challenging to stain, particularly when the substance has yellow deposits. Filling grain is advised by experts for the greatest finish.

When the wood in the vessels is damp, the white or yellow pigment called afzelin can cause it to stain textiles and other items that come into contact with it.

Afzelia Wood identification

Heartwood turns reddish brown with exposure; well-defined sapwood is straw-colored to yellowish.

Moderate to coarse texture, straight to interlocked grain, medium gloss, and no distinctive odor or flavor.

Some pores have a yellow dye that, when exposed to moisture, can stain paper, textiles, and other cellulosic materials.

The look of the several afzelia species is remarkably similar.

The light-brown heartwood, which frequently turns dark red-brown when exposed, may be clearly distinguished from the sapwood, which is pale straw.

Frequently seen figures include Mottle and others. The texture is rough yet uniform, and the grain is erratic and frequently interlaced. When dry, it is a stiff and somewhat hefty wood, weighing around 830 kg/m3.

Afzelia is a wood that is incredibly stable and is equivalent to teak in this regard.

Color and appearance

Heartwood is a reddish brown.

Well-defined sapwood is a pale yellowish white.

Color tends to darken with age.

Afzelia xylay, a shortened form of the botanical name of a certain Asian species, Afzelia xylocarpa, is occasionally used to refer to pieces with pommele or blistered motifs.

After being cut, the tree’s wood significantly darkens and has a wide range of colors, from a golden brown to a reddish brown. Combining different colors can produce interesting hardwood flooring looks.


Large to very large holes; diffuse porosity.

Few to very few, solitary, and in groups of two to three; heartwood deposits are yellowish brown; parenchyma banded; (marginal).

Vasicentric, aliform (lozenge-shaped), confluent, slender rays with regular spacing describe the paratracheal parenchyma.

Diffuse-porous is the porosity. Solitary and radial multiples are the arrangements. Large to extremely large, scarce to scarce vessels with deposits of yellowish brown heartwood are present.


The flowers are sweet-scented, white to yellowish, zygomorphous, bearing 5 petals, 1.5 cm x 1 cm, red striped, and the other 4 very minute.

Flowers are double-layered, with discrete green, leathery, petal-like structures and larger, more showy, red-colored, frilled leaves which have been modified to look like flower petals; these are known as bracts.

Flowers lead onto large legume fruits measuring 11-20cm long, containing 2-5 black-brown seeds.

Inflorescences are racemose, or racemes grouped into panicles.

Flowers are spirally arranged along the inflorescence axes, pedicels jointed at the base.

Bracteoles are large, well-developed, concavo-convex, almost completely concealing the young flower buds, one bracteole overlapping the other by its margins.

Both bracteoles are caducous before the flower opens.


It takes the fruit six months to ripen. It is a brown to a black, oblong, straight, flattened, dehiscent pod that measures 10–20 cm in length and 5-8 cm in width.

After they ripen, pods can stay on the tree for up to six months.

Each pod has many 2-4 cm long, potentially poisonous seeds covered with a prominent, palatable bright orange aril that spans one-third of their length.

The remaining two-thirds of the seed is black. Birds that eat the arils disperse seeds.

Grain and texture

The grain is naturally glossy and interlocked with a consistent medium to coarse texture.


It can be up to 30 cm long and have 7–17 pairs of leaflets. They are opposite, petiolated, and paripinnate.

The leaflets are opposite, 5-15 cm long by 3-8.5 cm wide, and elliptic to ovate-elliptic in form. A terminal or axillary panicle, measuring 3–13 cm in length, is the inflorescence.

Cooked and consumed as a vegetable, leaves. They are mashed and fried with local potashes when they are young and still purple.

They combine to create the popular “thelele,” a gummy substance.


No characteristic odor.


has its maximum development on moist sites, reaching heights of 80 to 120 feet and clear boles of 30 to 50 feet. Its trunks have diameters of 3 to 5 feet and more, and occasionally it has enormous irregular buttresses.

The bole is cylindrical and straight with a few small buttresses. Its bark is lenticular and a dark grayish brown color.

With a height of 12 to 18 meters and a diameter of 1 meter, the West African species grow to their largest size in the moist deciduous forest. The bole is very short and rarely straight.

It is primarily found in lowland, coastal, and Savannah-style woodlands in East Africa.

It is often smaller, with the bole rising above the buttressed base, and is typically 4.5m tall with a 1.0m diameter.

Afzelia wood bark

The bark is scaly, 2 cm thick, highly fragrant, and grey to dark brown. The crown is broad and substantial. Its shape, flat or rounded, is determined by age and growth circumstances.

The majority of the plants in this genus produce tannins in their bark. This species’ seeds and bark are both utilized medicinally.

A mixture of pulverized bark and python fat is administered on eczematous skin patches. Apply a little piece of bark to a sore tooth.

Excessive harvesting of bark and foliage may lower fruit yields and jeopardize reproduction.

Pros and Cons        

Have you been looking into Afzelia wood? We have some tips for you! Learn why this wood is so great and what are the pros and cons of it!

We hope you find this helpful in making your next project a success.

Resistance to rot

Quite durable. Somewhat resistant to marine borers and termites, as well as varying degrees of susceptibility to other insect assaults.

Strength and Durability 

Afzelia is hardy; while the sapwood may be susceptible to attack by the powder post beetle, the heartwood is incredibly strong and stable, with excellent resistance to impregnation and preservative treatment.

This genus species is prized for being resistant to fungi, which produces high-quality wood known as Cherry or Brilliant Cherry. Typically, this hardwood doesn’t need any form of further protection.

End-uses in temperate areas are those that are resistant to fungi and termites.

Natural durability is based on mature heartwood, except for particular remarks on sapwood.

The sapwood of Afzelia is susceptible to attack by the powder post beetle, but the heartwood is quite hardy and stable, and it resists impregnation and preservative treatment well.

Because they produce high-quality wood known as Cherry or Brilliant Cherry, species from this genus are prized for their ability to fend off fungus. Typically, no extra protection is needed for this hardwood.

Resistance to fungi and termites refers to applications in temperate regions.

Allergies and toxicity

Although severe reactions are uncommon, afzelia has been reported to cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as sneezing.

Water resistance

From a green state, species can be satisfactorily but gradually dried in a kiln. Although small distortion may happen with some detailed inspection and shake extension, the degradation is not expected to be severe.


Generally regarded as being a little challenging to work with due to its interlaced grain, which causes tear-out during machining processes.

Some species have water-soluble yellow deposits in the pores, making it difficult to stain or finish with water-based materials. This can make gluing and finishing unpredictable.

High crushing and bending strength, poor shock load resistance, and medium stiffness characterize Afzelia. As a result of its great resistance to cutting and tolerated tool blunting, Afzelia is a difficult wood to deal with.

Afzelia wood uses

Turned objects, inlays, flooring, docks, boatbuilding, exterior millwork, and other tiny specialty wood products.

Afzelia for outdoor equipment

  • Exterior staircases and guard railing
  • Decks and pool areas
  • Raised decking, balconies, and boardwalks
  • Shelters, outdoor furniture, and play equipment
  • Gates
  • Visual barriers, windbreaks, and pergolas

Afzelia for structures and panels

  • Lightweight structures
  • Glued laminated timber
  • Finger joints
  • Plywood, inside face and outside face
  • Plywood, inner layers
  • Sliced veneer

Afzelia for exterior joinery/building facades

  • Cladding and other exterior protection
  • Windows and doors
  • Screens and solar shading
  • Shutters and blinds

Afzelia for carpentry and interior fittings

  • Wooden floors and staircases
  • Doors and door frames
  • Moldings and interior paneling, and cladding
  • Design features and furnishings
  • Furniture and cabinetry

Afzelia for industrial use and heavy work

  • Sleepers and dunnage
  • Industrial flooring and heavy framework
  • Vehicle, wagon, and container lining
  • bridges and buildings that come into contact with soil or freshwater
  • Acoustic barriers in urban areas along railways and roads
  • Industrial flooring and heavy framework

Afzelia for shipbuilding

  • Boat decks and planking
  • Boat and yacht layouts
  • Pleasure-boating pontoons

Afzelia wood Related species

Afzelia and Merbau are related (though now in the Intsia genus, Merbau was formerly placed in the Afzelia genus). Merbau typically has more pronounced yellow mineral deposits and a darker heartwood color.

Like chanfuta (another African species of Afzelia), the heartwood exhibits sporadic mild luminous coloration. Afzelia species from Asia typically exhibit a brighter and more constant fluorescence response.

Chanfuta (Afzelia Quanzensis)

A spectacular tropical plant called Chanfuta has a crown that spreads out extraordinarily widely, resembling an umbrella. It typically reaches heights of 12 to 15 meters.

Generally regarded as being a little challenging to work with due to its interlaced grain, which causes tear-out during machining processes. Additionally, the wood significantly dulls cutters.

This Afzelia species, sometimes marketed under the variant spelling “chamfuta,” shares the same qualities that make the other woods in the genus so well-liked.

Specifically, excellent rot resistance and great dimensional stability. Despite not being mahogany, the wood is sometimes referred to as pod mahogany (or even Rhodesian mahogany) due to its look.

Afzelia Xylay (Afzelia Xylocarpa)

Afzelia, an uncommon wood, is occasionally used as a high-end mahogany alternative. Although the wood has a lovely red and gold color, its fantastic figure makes it popular.

The wood can exhibit a deep rippling pommel form used for high-end blades, known as Xylay, lay, or gator skin figure.

As the handle is polished to a finer grit, the figure gets stronger, and contouring can bring out the interesting details of the figure.

Merbau (Intsia)

Papua New Guinea, the Pacific islands, northern Queensland, and South East Asia are the main sources of the popular hardwood Merbau.

Engineering, construction, and maritime applications have high inherent strength and durability.

Merbau also employs backyards for indoor joinery, flooring, and other purposes, as well as for outdoor furniture.

Merbau is taken from tropical forests, though occasionally, it may come from those lawfully converted to other land uses or from areas with insufficient restrictions.

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