Afzelia africana

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Afzelia africana
Sclerocarya birrea habitus.jpg
Sclerocarya birrea leaves.jpg
Habit in Senegal, with foliage below
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Afzelia
A. africana
Binomial name
Afzelia africana

Afzelia africana, the African mahogany, afzelia, lenke, lengue, apa, or doussi, is a tree species in the family Fabaceae.


It occurs in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, DRCongo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda.[2] It is typically found in dense, evergreen forests, but may also be found in the savanna and the coastal forests of East Africa.[3]


Mature trees grow between 6 and 30 m in height. Produces white or greenish-white flowers with a red or pink stripe in panicles.[4] The flowers give way to dark brown or black shiny fruits containing poisonous black seeds attached to an edible orange aril.[5] The trunk diameter may reach 100–170 cm, sometimes more.[3] The leaves are bright green, about 30 cm long, with 7-17 pairs of elliptic or ovate leaflets.[5]


Afzelia africana was used in the Middle Ages for ship building.[6] It is one of the traditional djembe woods.[7] The building of a reconstructed 9th-century Arab merchantman, the Jewel of Muscat, required thirty-eight tons of Afzelia africana wood, which was supplied from Ghana. Curved trees were chosen for the ship's frames and timbers.[8] The trade name for the wood of this species is doussié; it is known for being resistant to decay and termites.[3]

The leaves are sometimes used as fodder for livestock.[2] The bark is often used for medicinal purposes in West Africa, and some groups regard the tree as "a refuge of invisible spirits".[9]



  1. ^ Hills, R. (2020). "Afzelia africana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T33032A67742420. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T33032A67742420.en. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Afzelia africana (PROTA) - PlantUse English". Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  3. ^ a b c "Doussié". Tropical Timber. Archived from the original on 2017-06-07. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  4. ^ "Afzelia africana in Global Plants on JSTOR". Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  5. ^ a b Orwa (2009). "Afzelia africana" (PDF). Agroforestry Database 4.0. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-04-14. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  6. ^ Jackson, Robert (March–April 2012). "Sailing Through Time: Jewel of Muscat". Saudi Aramco World. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  7. ^ Henning, Michi. "Djembe Woods: What You Need to Know". Archived from the original on 2012-01-03. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  8. ^ Jewel of Muscat timeline. Accessed 2013-01-13.
  9. ^ Balima, Larba Hubert; Nacoulma, Blandine Marie Ivette; Ekué, Marius Rodrigue Mensah; Kouamé, François N’Guessan; Thiombiano, Adjima (2018-03-27). "Use patterns, use values and management of Afzelia africana Sm. in Burkina Faso: implications for species domestication and sustainable conservation". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 14 (1): 23. doi:10.1186/s13002-018-0221-z. ISSN 1746-4269. PMC 5870347. PMID 29587813.

External links[edit]

Media related to Afzelia africana at Wikimedia Commons