Iroko or iroco is the common name that receives the timber of the tree Milicia excelsa, a species original from many countries of the central and eastern Africa. Despite the species is considered threatened since 1998, their intense exploitation continues nowadays. Its appearance is similar to the teak timber, so it is also known as the “African teak” in many places.
The iroko wood has either a light brown colour or a pale yellow one, both in the sapwood and the heartwood, and it eventually darkens to a golden or reddish flush, depending on the light over it.
The iroko wood has a straight grain although it tends to intertwine slightly, and its grain size varies from medium to coarse. It is a heavy wood, with a density of approximately 650 kg/m3.
The iroko wood is a very resistant hardwood to both putrefaction and the insect attack. It is also resistant to bending, compression and traction.
Working with iroko wood may present some drawbacks if we consider that the material contains some calcareous residues which may cause some abrasiveness on the skin, so it is advisable to use mask and protection when sawing or planning the material, especially. The tannins in the resin may hinder the drying of the oxidant varnishes applied and the casein glues sizing, while the screwing can be nailed without any problem. The sapwood of the iroko wood is impregnable, but the heartwood does not have this property.
Since this is such a tough timber, the iroko wood is especially used for posters and woodcarvings exposed to the weather. It is also used for outdoor constructions, such as pallets, carpentry, structures, decorative plates, parks and gardens furniture, woodwork and shipbuilding, stairs, doors, paneling, friezes, floorboards, baseboards and several different moldings.