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Species – Iroko

Species Information - Iroko

Species Information

The Iroko tree is a rather large hardwood tree found in the tropical regions of west coast Africa. Intriguingly, Iroko is an often-feared tree in certain cultures. For example, Yoruba people believe a spirit inhabits the Iroko tree, and that anyone who comes face to face with this spirit becomes insane and dies. Any man who cuts down this tree is cursed and brings misfortune to his family.

Some also consider it a sacred tree. Fertility and birth are often associated with the Iroko tree, and its timber is used to make ceremonial drums and coffins.

The tree itself can grow to be 160 feet tall. The trunk is rather bare closer to the ground, with the first branches not appearing until around 60 feet up. The bark is pale or dark gray, and if damaged will ooze a milky latex.

Iroko wood is resistant to termites and other infestations, which is why it’s used for construction, furniture, joinery, paneling, boat building, and, of course, floors. The tree is also used in herbal medicine. The bark, for example, can be milled down into a powder and used for coughs, heart problems, and lassitude. The latex is used to clear stomach and throat obstructions.

As a lumber, Iroko is stable, durable, and rot resistant. Its look somewhat resembles Teak.

Scientific Names

Two species of trees make up the timber known as Iroko, including Milicia excelsa and Milicia regia.


The Iroko tree is found in west coast Africa (although it’s spread to other regions as well, mainly by bats) and has a natural habitat of wet savannah, rainforest, riverine, and low-altitude evergreen forests. It’s found in such African nations as Angola, the Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Crossover Names

Iroko is sometimes referred to as African Teak or Mvule. Despite being referred to as African Teak, it’s not related to the teak family. Given the high prices of actual Teak, many people turn to Iroko as a low-cost alternative.

Janka Rating

The Janka rating for the Iroko tree is 1,260.

Iroko Janka Scale Rating 1,260

*The Janka rating measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. Click Here for more info.


The heartwood of the Iroko tree is usually a yellow or golden brown. However, it’s common and usual for the color to darken as it ages. The sapwood is a pale yellow and offers a clear demarcation from the heartwood.

The texture of Iroko is medium to coarse, and it features open pores and an interlocked grain.


Iroko is generally rather easy to work with, with the exception of its interlocked grain. This type of grain can cause some tearout during surfacing operations. Also, you may at times find pockets of calcium carbonate, which can dull cutters. Iroko glues and finishes well.

CLICK HERE to view all of our Iroko hardwood flooring.

Click below for a detailed discription of the different species of hardwood.

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