The lotofa wood is a material obtained from the tropical tree called Sterculia rhinopetala, a species native to the central and western Africa. The tree grows mainly in Ivory Coast and its lumber has a characteristic appearance similar to the chestnut wood. It may reach up to 40 meters high. This material is also called ayé wood (Nigeria), wawabina (Ghana) or n’kanang (Cameroon), brown sterculia (United Kingdom) and lotofa (Ivory Coast).
The sapwood of the lotofa wood is pale yellow colour, distinguished from the heartwood flush, usually reddish-yellow or reddish brown.
The lotofa wood, as it happens with most of the tropical woods, is a semi-hard and heavy timber, and usually has a nervous or interlocked grain. On its surface it has woody disks that give it an attractive appearance, but it also contains deposits of tungsten carbide, which can be irritating for the skin or the mucous membrane of someone who is working with it.
The lotofa wood is highly resistant to fungal attack, although it is more sensitive to insects, mainly termites.
The ramifications of the veins make more difficult the work of the lotofa wood. It is recommended to use machinery for handling it, and to nail and screw holes it is important to use drills previously, while the glue is only recommended for indoor uses. According to the dye, the heartwood of the lotofa wood is little impregnable and the sapwood, averagely.
The lotofa wood is commonly used in interior woodwork and solid joinery, as well as in furniture, thanks to the discs drawn on its surface that give an elegant and fine appearance. It is also usual its use in plywood, veneer for decorative coatings, wooden floors and sometimes even replaces the iroko wood in other objects construction.