African Walnut is derived from the Lovoa Trichilioides tree — a monoecious, evergreen that is indigenous to Central and Southern Africa’s tropical regions. Its heartwood color can vary anywhere from a golden brown to a reddish brown, often with darker streaks and/or portions. Over time, its color will darken to deeper brown tones. The sapwood is narrow, grey to beige in color, and clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Despite it not being a true walnut (of the Juglans genus), it shares many of the basic characteristics.
African Walnut’s grains are typically straight or slightly interlocked — yielding good working properties — with a fine to medium, consistent texture and a fine natural luster. Finding figured pieces is not uncommon. It turns, glues and finishes well. The wood is considered moderately durable.
Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Comments: Despite its nickname, African Walnut is more closely related to mahoganies (being a member of the Meliaceae family) than true walnuts. When quartersawn, the wood can display a long, horizontal stripe figuring and chatoyance that is similar to Sapele.
In spite of its fairly cooperative working properties, sharp cutting tools and blades are recommended to avoid the tearout which can occur with pieces featuring a more interlocking grain pattern.
The wood is sometimes available in the US as precut flooring, although lumber is not too commonly found — due, in part, to being overly exploited in a significant portion of its natural range.