African teak

A towering tree too much in demand

Also known as Afrormosia, Kokrodua and Assamela, the African teak (Pericopsis elata ) has brown, green or yellow-brown bark.

Portrait of a giant

African teak grows to a prodigious 50 m with buttresses up to 3 m high to keep the tree propped up. The trunk has no foliage for the first 25 m – 30 m. Pericopsis elata is only found in the drier parts of semi-deciduous forests in Central and West Africa, namely in Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Nigeria.

Demand

Timber from this tree is used for boat building, joinery, flooring and decorative veneers. Although it is endangered, African teak is still considered a better alternative to other threatened teaks within the timber industry.

Since 1948, trade in the species has soared. As a result, exploitation has become unsustainable and the species’ distribution has declined.

The African teak is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List 2004, and is listed on Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).1, 2


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1 FFI/UNEP-WCMC Global Trees Campaign. Resources > Pericopsis elata. Accessed 21/11/05.
2 Arkive.org. African teak. Accessed 21/11/05.

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