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Species – Sapele

Species Information - Sapele

Species Information

Sapele is a large African deciduous tree found in the mahogany family Meliaceae. The Sapele tree can reach rather large sizes, upwards of 60 meters at times, with trunks 2 meters in diameter. The leaves of the Sapele are pinnate, featuring 5 – 9 pairs of leaflets.

Commercially speaking, Sapele is reminiscent of mahogany. But Sapele has a distinctive figure, thus is often used when figure is important or desired. Its density is 640 kg per cubic meter, and while Sapele is used for many things, it’s most common use is for flooring. It’s a moderately priced plainsawn and quartersawn lumber. However, its figure lumber and veneer can be extremely expensive, particularly if its pommele or quilted Sapele.

Aside from flooring, Sapele is used in musical instruments, including the backs and sides of acoustic guitars. The neck of a ukulele will oftentimes feature Sapele. Cadillac uses Sapele often for its interior wood trim. The shower seat manufacturer Hudson Reed also uses Sapele wood for some of its models. Sapele can also be used in boatbuilding, furniture, cabinetry and turned objects. It is sometimes used as a substitute to genuine Mahagony.

There are protected populations and felling restrictions in place throughout the world.

Scientific Names

The scientific name for Sapele is Entandrophragma cylindricum.


Sapele is found in Africa and, more commonly, tropical Africa.

Crossover Names

Sapele also referred to as Sapelli, Sapeli and the tree itself is also often known as aboudikro. In some instances, Sapele is called “Sapele Mahogany.”

Janka Rating

Sapele has a Janka hardness rating of 1,510, making it 17% harder than Red Oak.

Sapele Janka Scale Rating 1,510

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


The heartwood of Sapele is golden to a dark reddish brown. The color of the wood tends to darken and deepen as it ages. With quartersawn boards you’ll likely see a ribbon pattern, but Sapele is also known for its other figured grain patterns, including pommele, quilted, mottled, wavy and fiddleback.

The grain of Sapele is interlocked, and at times wavy. It possesses a fun uniform texture and a good natural luster. Its endgrain has large pores with no specific arrangement.


Sapele has been known to be troublesome when worked on with machine tools (such as during planning and routing). This can result in tearouts due to the wood’s interlocked grain.

Sapele has also been known to react when in contact with iron. It’ll become discolored and stained. The wood can blunt cutters, but it turns, glues and finishes well.

When being worked on, Sapele has a cedar-like scent.

CLICK HERE to view all of our Sapele hardwood flooring.

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

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