Spotlight on species – Ekki

Ekki is one of the many types of timber available at EcoChoice. This article will serve as a spotlight on the species.

What Is Its Botanical Name?

The botanical name for the Ekki tree is Lophira alata and is sometimes also known as Azobe or Bongossi. 

It is from the Ochnaceae family and has a variety of different names across the countries it is found in.

Where Can Ekki Be Found?

The Ekki tree can be mainly found on the coast of West Africa, often in the swamps and rainforests in countries like Sierra Leone or Nigeria. 

What Does The Ekki Tree Look Like?

The Ekki tree usually has a straight trunk but sometimes has a swollen base, ranging from 5-6 feet in diameter without buttresses. 

There are usually no branches until around 30 metres high – making it perfect for long straight beams and planks. 

The bark is reddish-brown in colour and can be up to two centimetres thick. It is sometimes called Red Ironwood due to its strength and colour.

The leaves are up to 25cm long and have a rounded or indented tip whilst narrow in length.

Younger Ekki trees have a greenish-grey bark which becomes pink or light brown as they mature.

What Does Ekki Timber Look Like?

The heartwood tends to be a dark red colour, whereas the sapwood is pale pink. The wood often has a speckled appearance,with white streaks against a dark background. It has interlocking grains, a coarse and uneven texture, and is extremely hard and heavy.

What Properties Does Ekki Timber Have?

Ekki timber is known for being incredibly strong and naturally very durable. It is also resistant to both insect and fungal attacks and to weathering, which means you do not need to use protective treatments on it. 

This explains why Ekki is a favourite species for civil and marine projects such as railway ties, sea defence groynes, piers, harbour fenders, etc

Ekki timber can be hard to work sometimes but it can finish well and has good gluing properties if required.

What Are the Main Uses of Ekki Timber?

Whilst Ekki timber is considered too hard for many purposes, heavy construction is an area where it does the job perfectly, especially in rail, civil, and marine projects – such as docks and harbours due to its high density and durability.

Apart from civil and marine projects, bog mats (also known as navy mats) are often made of ekki due to these amazing properties.

Did You Know?

The bark of the tree was often used as a traditional method of treating headaches – people sniffed it in the hope of some relief from the pain.

Undeniably strong

When it comes to density, Ekki gives Oak, which has a reputation for its density, a run for it’s money – with a super staggering strength of 96 MPa compared to European Oak’s 46.3 MPa

The Ekki tree is a great timber resource for a variety of marine projects and heavy-duty construction. 

To find out more about other species of timber, or to take a look at some of our projects get in touch today.

Images: ThorPic /, dotun55 / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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