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Table 2.1.2 The timber properties of Acacia species and their uses (Broun and Massey, 1929; Manjunath, 1948, Boudy, 1950; Sahni, 1968; Palmer and Pitman, 1972; Zohary 1972; Ali 1973; Coats Palgrave, 1977; Zohary, 1977; Goldsmith & Carter, 1981; Maydell, 1986; Riley and Brokensha, 1988; Bhandari, 1990; Bird and Shepherd, 1992; Erkkilä and Siislonen, 1992; Haines and Eckman, 1993; Medley, 1993; Nahal, 1993)


Timber properties



A. abyssinica

a preferred species for timber, building materials and furniture in Tanzania

A. amythethophylla

sapwood yellow-white with orange streaks, heartwood reddish with black streaks, heavy, 1170 kg/m3, hard, strong, easy to split; durable

carving, turnery, inlay work

A. ataxacantha

sapwood white to creamy white, pink tinge, heartwood deep brown-red, texture medium, heavy, 9304 kg/m3, tough, durable, with abundant gum patches, flexible, saws cleanly and finishes well; sapwood susceptible to borers, termites and blue fungus

hut lathes, tool and implement handles, walking sticks, bows, poles, fences

A. brevispica

tough, durable, flexible

digging sticks, hut lathes, bows, walking sticks

A. burkei

wood dark brown, heavy, tough, good grain when polished

fence posts, formerly used for works well,

A. bussei

building poles, tool handles in Somalia

A. caffra

sapwood whitish, heartwood nearly black, very hard, heavy, close-grained, very attractive, not termite resistant, termite and borer-proof

good fence posts

A. circummarginata

wood strong, splinters badly; termite resistant

not used for implement handles because it splinters badly, may be used for construction purposes

A. davyi

wood soft, brittle

A. drepanolobium

hard, heavy; durable, termite resistant

agricultural implements, tool handles, Y-poles to support granaries; a preferred species for building material and fence posts in Tanzania

A. dudgeoni

occasionally used for tool handles

A. erioloba

sapwood wide, pinkish, heartwood dark or reddish brown, hard and heavy, 1230kg/m3, difficult to saw, finishes well; durable, borer and termite resistant

formerly used for machine bearings, considered better than brass if kept very well oiled; heartwood only now used, pit props, wagons, fence poles, firewood. Used in Namibia for knobkerries (clubs)

A. erubescens

wood hard, durable

ox yoke-skeys

A. erythrocalyx

straight stems occasionally cut for walking sticks

A. galpinii

sapwood pale brown, heartwood darker, heavy, 800 kg/m3, coarse grained, difficult to work

good furniture, formerly for wagons, joinery, general purpose timber

A. gerrardii

wood variable, heavy, 900 kg/m3, moderate durability. Subject to beetle and fungal attack

preferred species for building material and fence posts in Tanzania. Small furniture, shelves, cupboards, wood wool

A. goetzii

sapwood white, heartwood chocolate brown, even texture, heavy, 1025 kg/m3, saws and works well, durable. Susceptible to fungi

furniture, carving, turnery

A. gummifera

tool handles, domestic articles

A. haematoxylon

heartwood hard, red

wind instruments

A. hebeclada

wood strong

hoe and axe handles

A. hereroensis

yoke- skeys

A. hockii

susceptible to termites and decay

not favoured for hut construction because of its poor durability

A. karroo

sapwood wide, creamy brown, heartwood radish-brown, often seen as small streaks, heavy, 800 kg/m3, hard, tough, works well, durable; susceptible to borer and fungi

interior work, furniture, wagon wheels, yokes, rural implements, turnery, fence posts, coffins, wood wool

A. laeta

poles for local construction purposes, fence posts

A. lahai

a preferred species for building material fence posts and walking sticks in Tanzania

A. leucophloea

sapwood yellowish-white, heartwood brick red turning reddish-brown with darker streaks, coarse textured, grain irregularly interlocked, density 0.71, seasons well, difficult to saw, planes and good polish; not durable, susceptible to borer attack

agricultural implements, carts, cartwheels, turnery

A. luederitzii

heartwood dark, heavy, tough, water- and fire-resistant

well lining, fence posts

A. mellifera

subsp. detiens

sapwood thick, whitish heartwood dark brown to greenish black, almost black when oiled, very tough and durable, does not split readily, heartwood borer- and termite-proof

excellent for pick and axe handles, bows, fence posts. Regarded in Namibia as suitable raw material for chipboard and wood cement blocks but unacceptably weak for wood-cement panels

subsp. mellifera

heartwood black, very heavy, 1100 kg/m3, very hard, strong; durable, borer, termite and fungi resistant

poles for huts and fencing, tool handles; a preferred species for building material in Tanzania

A. modesta

sapwood white, heartwood russet with greenish cast often with darker streaks, strong, extremely hard, straight grained, density 0.97, difficult to saw; durable

cane crushers, Persian wheels, agricultural implements, cartwheels

A. nigrescens

sapwood narrow, off-white, heartwood dark golden reddish-brown, medium to coarse texture, very heavy, 1120 kg/m3, strong, difficult to saw, finishes well; resistant to borers, termites and fungi

carving, turnery, furniture, wagon work, mine props

A. nilotica sensu lato

heartwood redbrown, sometimes with dark striations, hard, heavy, 1170 kg/m3, dries and works (except for knots) well but high silica content blunts tools

hut construction, boat building, oil, sugar and cane presses, railway sleepers, poles for granaries, digging sticks

subsp. adstringens

hard, heavy, density 0.945(heartwood), 0.827 (sapwood), durable, short fibred, somewhat fencing, tool handles, etc. brittle. Resistant to water and termites.

Construction work, boat building, hut construction,

subsp. kraussiana

wood dark red, hard

carving, domestic utensils, saddles, bed frames, fencing

subsp. nilotica

sapwood yellowish-white, heartwood pinkish-red to reddish-brown, hard, heavy, tough, density 0. 80. Resistant to water and termites

sleepers, boat building, pit props, wagons, tool handles, carving, construction timbers, floor blocks, etc.

subsp. subalata

wood reddish, hard, durable.

Turnery, pit props, fence posts

Termite resistant

subsp. tomentosa

dark, hard, heavy, tough. Resistant to water and termites

sleepers, boat building, pit props, wagons, tool handles, carving, construction timbers, floor blocks, etc.

A. oerfota

wood with obnoxious smell when cut

hut construction

A. polyacantha subsp. campylacantha

sapwood white, heartwood red with blackish streaks and high in resin content, heavy, 705 km/m3, hard, coarse grained, difficult to plane or saw but polishes well, poor durability; susceptible to fungi

building construction, sleepers, ploughs in the Sudan agricultural implements, poles, handles, wheels, crates, shelves, wood-wool. Little used in southern Africa

A. reficiens

subsp. misera

thorny fence poles

A. robusta

sapwood light, heartwood dark, heavy, 850 kg/m3, tough, does not split readily, warps easily; attacked by borers unless water-seasoned, old trees often affected by dry rot and borers

good yokes but little value as timber, although sometimes used for poles if long enough, kitchen furniture

A. senegal

wood dark, hard. Termite resistant

construction timber, tool and implement handles, fence posts, weavers' shuttles

A. seyal

var. fistula

wood very susceptible to insect attack

little used

var. seyal

wood white, hard, shock resistant, seasons reasonably well, not durable, especially if cut green; not rot resistant; susceptible to insects

not favoured for hut construction because of its poor durability but can be improved by water treatment

A. sieberiana sensu lato

wood yellow ochre or white; medium heavy, 655 kg/m3, hard to soft. Sapwood readily attacked by insects and termites unless water-seasoned for 6 months

packing cases, light furniture, shelves, implements, tool handles, wagons, mortars, wood-wool, sleepers if preserved; a preferred species for building materials and mortars in Tanzania

A. tanganyikensis

used for drums in Tanzania

A. tortilis sensu lato

fence posts; tool handles a preferred species for furniture in Tanzania

subsp. heteracantha

sapwood whitish, soft, heartwood red, warps on drying unless cut when sap down and water seasoned; often riddled by borers heartwood small, dark brown,

poles, yokes

subsp. raddiana

local construction

subsp. spirocarpa

sapwood moderately dark or brown; fairly hard and heavy. Susceptible to borer insects

boat ribs, pulley blocks, kitchen furniture, shelves; a preferred species for building material and fence posts in Tanzania

subsp. tortilis

local construction

A. xanthophloea

undifferentiated creamy brown with pinkish tinge, in large boles heartwood brown, heavy, 880 kg/m3, hard, works and finishes well, requires thorough seasoning otherwise cracks; moderately durable, moderately resistant to borers and insects. Host of the root parasite Sarcophyte sanguina (Balanophoraceae)

general purpose timber

F. albida

sapwood and heartwood not clearly differentiated, bright yellow to white, light, at 12% moisture content 560 kg/m3, fairly dense, coarse grained relatively soft, easy to work; although not particularly suitable for building purposes or furniture, its large dimensions encourages its use by rural populations. Susceptible to fungi, insects and termites but easily preserved

boat building; hut construction, furniture, oil presses, mortars, bowls and domestic utensils, drums, boxes, light carpentry, saddles, drinking troughs, dugouts, fencing, etc. and wood wool


A. leucophloea

wod hard, strong and light

agricultural implements, oil mills, carts, wheels, turnery

A. nilotica

subsp. indica

building purposes, agricultural implements, spokes, wheels, oil presses, tent pegs,


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