African Sapele originates from Central & West Africa & is one of the finest grades of Hardwood available and is the most popular of African hardwood species. Still very much in demand & remains in good supply. Sapele is a large hardwood tree, up to 45 m high (rarely 60 m), native to tropical Africa. The leaves are deciduous in the dry season, alternately arranged, pinnate, with 5-9 pairs of leaflets. The flowers are produced in loose inflorescences when the tree is leafless, with five yellowish petals. The fruit is a pendulous capsule about 10 cm long and 4 cm broad; when mature it splits into five sections to release 15-20 seeds.
Commercial Names: Sapelewood, Aboundikrou & Sapelli.
Distribution: West & East Africa.
General Description: The heartwood has a medium to dark reddish brown colour, characterised by a well-defined ribbon striped figure on quartered surfaces. Sometimes when wavy grain is present, a very attractive fiddleback figure, roe figure occasionally, beautiful mottled figure is obtained. The grain is interlocked or wavy & the texture fairly fine. Has a cedar-like scent when freshly cut. The timber is liable to ring or cup shakes. Weight varies between 560-690kg/m3 (35-43lb/ft3) averages about 620kg/m3 (39lb/ft3); specific gravity .62.
Seasoning: Dries fairly rapidly with a marked tendency to distort. Quartered material is less liable to degrade. Medium movement in service.
Durability: Moderately durable.
Uses: Hardwood Windows & Doors, Conservatories, Orangeries, Garden Offices & many other applications that require a high level of quality.
Comments: Possibly more Sapele than any other Mahogany species is being used in the U.K. today for joinery & door manufacture. Growers, agents & governments are striving to produce more certified timber in this species as its popularity grows.
Conservation measures: There are protected populations & felling restrictions in place in various countries. Realwood only use timber sourced from reputable timber merchants that belong to the TTF (Timber Trades Federation) who in turn source their timber from sawmills who subscribe to various forest management schemes around the world such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) & Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC). With good forest management there will be a plentiful supply of quality timber for future generations.