Tamboti is a beautiful African hardwood which is derived from the Spirostachys Africana tree — a medium-sized, semi-deciduous to deciduous, fruit producing tree. The heartwood is brown to dark brown, with darker markings and streaks, clearly demarcated from the whitish to pale yellow sapwood. Its grains are usually straight to slightly wavy, with a fine, even texture. The wood has a beautiful banded figure and a satin-like lustre, with an oily surface. Known for its durability, dimensional stability and exceptional rot and insect resistance, Tamboti is a hard, heavy wood — and one which remains in steady demand throughout regions of its natural range, despite its somewhat challenging working properties.
Between the tree’s natural oils and latex production, resawing the wood tends to gum up saw blades. Difficulties aside, the wood turns and finishes well, and its density and pleasant aesthetics make it popular with wood carvers, as well.
Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is reported by the IUCN as being “data deficient.” Due to a recent history of exploitation, exporting has been restricted and is closely monitored in India and Sri Lanka.
Common Uses: Decorative joinery, furniture, cabinetry, construction posts & beams, flooring, shipbuilding, musical instruments, carvings, turnings, small specialty items and fuelwood (although the fumes can be toxic).
Comments: The tree is known for its toxic milky latex, that exudes from all parts of it. Its bark, roots and the latex have been utilized for centuries in concoctions used to treat a variety of medical issues. Despite its great popularity throughout southern Africa, its sawdust can be quite harmful to the eyes (even being reputed to cause blindness, in extreme cases of repeated exposure).
Tamboti emits a fragrant, spicy smell when worked, and the smell can actually persist for years.