USDA Forest Service
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53705-2398
Wood Technical Fact Sheet
East African Olive
Other Common Names: Olmasi, Ngwe (Tanzania), Musharagi (Kenya).
Distribution: Montane rain forests at elevations of 6,000 to 9,000 ft; common in Kenya and parts of Zaire but less frequent in Uganda and Tanzania.
The Tree: May reach a height of 80 to 100 ft, but is often smaller; bole rarely straight, heavily fluted, about 15 to 30 ft in length; trunk diameters 2 to 3 ft.
General Characteristics: Heartwood pale brown with irregular dark gray-brown streaks; sapwood up to 2 in. wide, pale yellow, clearly demarcated. Texture fine and even; grain straight or shallowly interlocked, figured; surface slightly oily.
Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.72; air-dry density 55 pcf.
Mechanical Properties: (2-cm standard)
Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength
(%) (Psi) (1,000 psi) (Psi)
Green (9) 15,300 1,980 7,080
12% 25,300 2,530 12,200
Janka side hardness 1,840 lb for green and 2,740 lb for dry material.
Drying and Shrinkage: Timber dries very slowly with a strong tendency to check and warp; honeycomb may develop in thick material if dried too rapidly. Kiln schedule T6-D2 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-D1 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to 12% moisture content: radial 4.0%; tangential 6.5%. Movement in service is rated as large.
Working Properties: Easy to saw when green, difficult to work by hand, a smooth clean finish is obtained in planing, excellent turning properties, moderate steam-bending properties.
Durability: Heartwood has low to moderate durability, susceptible to termite attack.
Preservation: Heartwood moderately resistant to preservative treatments; sapwood permeable.
Uses: Furniture, decorative veneer, turnery, decorative flooring, tool handles.
Additional Reading: (3), (6), (9)