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Ayous (Obeche) (Triplochiton scleroxylon)


African whitewood

A lightweight timber from the African whitewood tree, Triplochiton scleroxylon. Ayous, commonly called obeche, has a cream color wood with a straight to interlocking grain that produces a ribbon figure on the radial surface. Obeche has a medium texture and is easy to work. It is used for furniture.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Triplochiton scleroxylon; obeché; obechi; ayous; African whitewood; samba; wawa; samba (Fr.)


  • Slightly toxic by inhalation and moderately toxic by ingestion.
  • Finished wood and sawdust may cause skin allergies

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Color: Heartwood is pale yellow; Sapwood is similar; Color darkens with age
  • Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked with medium texture and good natural luster
  • Durability: Poor insect resistance; may stain or discolor from fungus if not dried properly
  • Density = 24 ppcf

Working Properties

  • Easy to work, though the interlocked grain can cause some rough surfaces in some machining operations.
  • Carves, stains, glues, and finishes well.

Resources and Citations

  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Website: www.gilmerwood.com

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