Canarium schweinfurthii
Family: Burseraceae
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African Canarium

Other Common Names: Abel (Cameroon), Aiele (Ivory Coast), Elemi (Nigeria), Bediwunua, Eyere (Ghana), Mwafu (Uganda).


Distribution: Widely distributed in East, Central, and West Africa.


The Tree: Reaches a height of 150 ft with a straight cylindrical bole to 90 ft, trunk diameters 4 to 5 ft over a slight buttress.


The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood a light pinkish brown or light pinkish yellow; sapwood whitish or straw colored, wide, not clearly differentiated. Texture somewhat coarse; grain interlocked sometimes producing a very attractive roe figure; lustrous; pleasant characteristic scent, without taste.


Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) about 0.40; air-dry density 30 pcf.


Mechanical Properties: (2-cm standard)


Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

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

Green (40)                   5,900                           900                              3,130

12%                             10,100             1,180                           6,160


12% (44)                     8,740                           NA                              4,830


12% (44)                   10,750                           1,310                           6,240


Janka side hardness 520 lb for green material and 670 lb for dry. Amsler toughness at 12% moisture content 88 to 128 in.-lb (2-cm specimen).


Drying and Shrinkage: Timber seasons slowly, possibly with some collapse and a tendency to end checking and warp. Kiln schedule T1 0-D4S is suggested for 4/4 stock and T8-D3S for 8/4. Shrinkage green to 12% moisture content: radial 2.5%; tangential 4.5%. Movement in service is rated as medium.


Working Properties: Timber works easily with machine and hand tools but has a severe blunting effect on cutters because of silica content, sharp knives are required to avoid a woolly finish in planing, glues and nails satisfactorily, peels and slices easily.


Durability: Heartwood not resistant to decay and is vulnerable to termite attack; sapwood liable to attack by powder-post beetles. Logs must be protected with insecticides and fungicides and converted as soon as possible.


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



Uses: Plywood, decorative veneers, parquetry, joinery, furniture components.


Additional Reading:: (3), (9), (40), (44)

3.     Bolza, E., and W.G. Keating. 1972. African timbers-the properties, uses, and characteristics of 700 species. CSIRO. Div. Of Build. Res., Melbourne, Austrailia.

9.Farmer, R.H. 1972.Handbook of hardwoods. H.M. Stationery Office. London.

40.   Lavers, G.M. 1967. The strength properties of timbers. For. Prod. Res. Bull. No. 50. H.M. Stationery Office. London.

44.  Sallenave, P. 1955. Propriˇtˇs et mˇcaniques des bois tropicaux de lÕunionFrancaise. Publ. Centre Tech. For. Trop. No.8.



From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.