USDA Forest Service
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53705-2398
(608) 231-9200


Wood Technical Fact Sheet


 Ocotea usambarensis

East African Camphorwood

Family: Lauraceae

Other Common Names: Muwong, Maasi, Mkulo (Tanzania), Mwiha (Uganda).

Distribution: Occurs in wet montane forests at altitudes of 3,000 to 9,000 ft; mainly in Kenya and Tanzania, sparse in Uganda.

The Tree: Reaches a height of 120 to 150 ft; bole straight and clear to about 50 ft; trunk diameters to 7 ft, occasionally to 10 ft. Mature trees often have heartrot.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood light yellowish brown, darkening to a deep brown on exposure; sapwood slightly paler, not clearly demarcated. Texture medium to fine and even; grain interlocked producing a stripe figure; sometimes lustrous; timber has a distinct camphor scent.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.51; air-dry density 37 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (First set of data based on the 2-cm standard; second set on the 2-in. standard.)

Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength

(%) (Psi) (1,000 psi) (Psi)

Green (9) 8,500 1,180 4,440

12% 13,300 1,440 7,590

12% (5) 10,900 1,440 6,790

Janka side hardness 760 lb for green material and 930 lb for dry.

Drying and Shrinkage: Seasons fairly well; but rather slowly, particularly thick stock. Kiln schedule T8-B3 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T5-B1 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to 12% moisture content: radial 2.5%; tangential 4.0%. Movement in service rated as small.

Working Properties: Works easily with hand and machine tools, in planing interlocked grain a cutting angle of 20 degrees is suggested, good gluing and moderate steam-bending properties, finishes satisfactorily.

Durability: Heartwood is rated as very durable but is vulnerable to termite attack and marine borers. Sapwood liable to powder-post beetle attack.

Preservation: Heartwood is rated as extremely resistant to preservative treatments; sapwood is permeable.

Uses: Cabinet and furniture work, joinery, flooring, sliced veneer, boatbuilding.

Additional Reading: (3), (5), (9)