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Aucoumea klaineana

Aucoumea klaineana

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Aucoumea klaineana (Angouma, Gaboon, or Okoumé) is a tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

 in the family Burseraceae
Burseraceae is a moderate-sized family of 17-18 genera and about 540 species of flowering plants. The actual numbers differ according to the time period in which a given source is written describing this family. The Burseraceae is also known as the Torchwood family, the frankincense and myrrh...

, native to equatorial west Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 in Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

, the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

, and Rio Muni
Río Muni
Río Muni is the Continental Region of Equatorial Guinea, and comprises the mainland geographical region, covering 26,017 km².-History:Río Muni was ceded by Portugal to Spain in 1778 in the Treaty of El Pardo...

. It is a medium-sized hardwood
Hardwood is wood from angiosperm trees . It may also be used for those trees themselves: these are usually broad-leaved; in temperate and boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergreen.Hardwood contrasts with softwood...

A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

 growing to 30-40 m tall, rarely larger, with a trunk 1-2.5 m diameter above the often large basal buttresses. The tree generally grows in small stands, the roots of the trees intertwined with neighboring trees. In Gabon it is the primary timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...



It is a weak wood with low decay resistance and moderate dimensional stability, the major use of Gaboon is in the manufacture of plywood
Plywood is a type of manufactured timber made from thin sheets of wood veneer. It is one of the most widely used wood products. It is flexible, inexpensive, workable, re-usable, and can usually be locally manufactured...

. Its attractive appearance means that it is often used decoratively as the top surface veneer
Wood veneer
In woodworking, veneer refers to thin slices of wood, usually thinner than 3 mm , that are typically glued onto core panels to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry...

 in panelling and furniture or, in solid form in luxury items such as boxes for cigars or other high value items (e.g. audio equipment).

Gaboon plywood is also used in the French aircraft industry to make light aeroplanes, such as those built by Avions Robin
Avions Robin
Avions Robin was a French manufacturer of light aeroplanes. It was previously known as Avions Pierre Robin and Centre Est Aeronautique. The company was bought by Apex Aircraft in 1988.-History:...

. It was used extensively to manufacture the Jodel
Société Avions Jodel is a French aircraft company started in 1946 by Édouard Joly and his son-in-law Jean Délémontez. Jodel designed a range of light aeroplanes shortly after the Second World War. The popular myth is that the two, with no formal aerodynamics training, set about designing a...

 range of aircraft, which are popular throughout Europe but no longer factory-built. However, the wood's open grain, flexibility and light weight make it a popular choice for amateur builders of Jodel aircraft to this day.

In the form known as okoume marine grade plywood, it is considered perhaps the finest construction plywood now available for boats. It is widely available manufactured and certified to British Standard 1088
BS 1088
In materials, the BS 1088 specification is a marine plywood specification that applies to plywood produced with untreated tropical hardwood veneers that have a set level of resistance to fungal attack. The plies are bonded with WBP glue. Although the initials BS are for "British Standard", the...

. Its users range from individual hobbyist kayak
A kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle.The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler...

 builders to some of the world's largest boat builders. Most often it is used in combination with epoxy and fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

, the combination giving a structure that can be stronger and lighter than plastic or fiberglass, rivaling the performance characteristics of more advanced composites such as carbon fiber
Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber, alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of fibers about 5–10 μm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber...

. The grain appearance is prized, likened to that of mahogany
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany....

and is often varnished for a decorative appearance.

When used for the backs and sides of high-end acoustic guitars Okoume (or as it is known in the trade, Akoumé) exhibits many of the tonal properties of maple. Guitars made with Akoumé are noticeably lighter in weight than those made with mahogany or rosewood.