The TreeAfara is a very large tree, from 18m to 45m high. The wide, spreading buttresses may extend up the bole for 2.5m or more, but the bole above is straight and cylindrical with a diameter of about 1.5m. Felling is carried out above the buttress.
The TimberUsually both the heartwood and sapwood are light yellowish- brown in colour, similar to light oak. Occasionally, however, the heartwood contains irregular greyish markings, with streaks which may be almost black (the cause of these markings is not known) Such timber is very attractive in appearance and fetches good prices, being valuable for veneer; off-centre peeling and quarter slicing give the best striping effects. This variation in colour has resulted in the timber from Zaire being divided into two types: - (1) Limba clair (or limba blanc), in which two-thirds or more of the diameter of the log is light in colour. (2) Limba noir (or limba bariole), in which the dark-coloured heartwood is sufficient to show on the sides of squared logs.The timber is close-grained and usually straight, but may be wavy in the grain; the latter type providing a good figure. It is of medium hardness and weighs about 560 kg/m3 when dried (to 15 per cent moisture content). In large logs the heart may be brittle, and if this is the case, it should be eliminated ('boxed out') in conversion.
DryingIn air drying, there is a tendency for the heart or 'brash' wood to split and shake, but little trouble is experienced with close-ringed outer wood; fairly thick sticks (75mm) assist in preventing discoloration. Kiln drying is easy, and there is less tendency for defects to develop.
StrengthComplete strength tests have not been carried out, but limited tests indicated that the timber is not very strong, and the dark coloured wood tends to be more brittle than the light, which is fairly resistant to shock loads.
Working QualitiesGood - The timber works easily with hand and machine tools; this includes turning. In cases where the grain is uneven there is some tendency to pick up in planing, but this can usually be overcome by using a low cutting angle. Gluing presents no difficulties, and an excellent finish can be obtained. The timber can be stained and polished easily (if a filler is used). Care must be taken in nailing and screwing to avoid splitting.
Latin NameTerminalia superba
Also known aswhite afara (Nigeria), limba clair (Zaire and Angola), limba noir (Zaire and Angola), limbo (French West Africa), noyer du Mayombe (French West Africa), ofram (Ghana), korina (Liberia), light limba (Zaire and Angola), akom (French West Africa), dark limba (Zaire and Angola), frake, chene limbo (French West Africa)
OriginWest Africa, Sierra Leone, Cameroon