The azobe is a long-stemmed broad-leaf that grows in equatorial regions, mainly in Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Guinea, Ghana, Gabon and Nigeria. The scientific name of the azobe is Lophira alata/Lophira procera.
It reaches a height of 40 to 50 metres and its diameter can even exceed 100 centimetres.

The azobe is differentiated, with thin sapwood (the outer part of the trunk is pink or brownish) and heartwood inner part of the trunk from red-brown to purplish). It has a strong, coarse texture and its thick, frequently interlocked fibres characterise it and stress its great strength; it should be noted that whitish deposits form in the large vessels (particularly on the borderline between the sapwood and the heartwood), highlighting and intensifying its hardness. The weight per volume of the fresh product is about 1300 kg per cubic metre.


The azobe has a very high mechanical strength. The heartwood of the azobe is durable even in a damp environment and it has a high resistance to shipworm. The tests carried out by the "Centre Technique Forestier Tropical" confirm that azobe wood can be considered practically immune to rotting, extremely durable and impact-resistant, with very good qualities of elasticity and mechanical strength, and that it can be classed as one of the few species in the world truly resistant to aggression by xylophagous insects including, among others, termites and woodworm, as well as by teredo navalis.

It can therefore be said of the Azobe that it is truly the ideal wood for any outdoor works, on both damp and dry ground and in fresh or salt water. It is practically everlasting thanks to its excellent qualities of resistance to rotting and its strength.
Azobe is the hardest industrially used wood in the world.
The heartwood is not prone to catching fire and is naturally very resistant to weathering, acids and vegetable and animal parasites. Even termites are unable to damage it.
Its properties in terms of strength are remarkable. Following are the most important parameters, compared to those of oak-wood, with which we are all familiar:

  Azobe Oak
Modulus of elasticity, Kg/sq. cm 240.000 115.000
Bending strength, Kg/ sq. cm 2.460 950
Crushing strength, Kg/sq. cm 1.090 540
Hardness (Brinell), Kg/sq. cm 13 6

Hundreds of structures have been realised in azobe wood with great success, because it fully satisfies the constructor's needs . Here are some examples.

  • Structures in constant contact with salt water in main seaports. - we know that the planking ( i.e. fender bars, camels) in the world's main seaports is made from azobe wood, because this wood is resistant to xylophagous insects and teredo navalis.
  • Landing brows and embankment support walls used as defense from the sea. - In the low lands, and especially in Holland, the use of azobe wood for these types of structures is over 100,000 MC per year. The embankment of the Suez canal is made of azobe wood, because of its above described characteristics.
  • Paris Underground - The use of azobe wood in the Paris Underground system dates back to more than 40 years ago thanks to its resistence and strenghth, to its durability, to the fact that it is easy and cheap to handle and transport compared to other materials (i.e. precompressed concrete), and because it requires low maintenance. The French also paid close attention to the fact that, when dealing with an underground system, it is preferable to use materials that are as sound absorbent as possible. After many trials using different types of sleepers, azobe wood sleepers turned out to be the most sound absorbent, along with other types of wood, compared to sleepers made out of other materials. Railway sleepers in France, Germany, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Holland, United States of America, Canada etc. always chosen for the above described characteristics.
  • Oil pipeline bed-plates in marshy waters. - For such structures azobe wood has been chosen for its resistance to xylophagous insects and because, being a water-repellent material, it is resistent to the acids and oils present in oil pipelines.
  • Pillaring and construction of tunnels in mines. - We have long-term experience in supplying azobe wood guides for mine shafts because this type of timber presents a high degree of mechanical resistence and a low degree of flammability as demonstrated brilliantly in the "spark arrester trial".

Knowing the characteristics of azobe wood and having read all the necessary technical information, we highly recommend the use of this type of timber to those who need contruction material for the above mentioned types of structures. For the construction of the structures illustrated above, azobe or bongossi wood has been widely tested in the most important industrial nations worldwide and it is unrivaled in its fields of application.

We hope, thanks to our long-term experience in the production of azobe wood manufacts, to have given you a comprehensive over-view on this type of timber.

Azobe wood screened panels for calves