A relatively fast-growing, large tree, Okoume grows natively in the west coast countries of Central Africa, from Cameroon south to the Republic of the Congo. But it flourishes most abundantly – and famously – in Gabon, where the commercially-important species accounts for more than 60 percent of the nation’s timber production.
No surprise, that’s why you’ll sometimes find Okoume referred to simply as “Gabon,” or the slight variation: “Gaboon wood.”
Considered one of the best species for manufacturing plywood, Okoume is also a resinous wood with water-resistant qualities, making it a popular timber for canoes, kayaks, and boatbuilding. Not just today, but traditionally by the local people of the region.
No matter how you use it, Okoume is a classically elegant wood, with an overall light to medium mahogany color — a palette created by its pale pink to light brown heartwood that darkens with age, and narrow, grayish white sapwood. While the grain of Okoume tends to be straight to slightly wavy, it may be slightly interlocking. And when quatersawn, the wood can reveal striped or mottled figure. Okoume’s texture is fine and uniform, and can be polished to a beautiful, lustrous surface.
Used almost exclusively as wood veneer or architectural plywood in the United States, Okoume also makes a beautiful, exotic choice for furniture, cabinetry, and musical instruments.
Republic of the Congo
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CITES Appendices: Not listed
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: On the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduc-tion of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.