African Pearwood: Properties, Colors, Texture, Uses, Workability & Sustainability

African Pearwood tree, log, and lumber.

Let’s check out African Pearwood to get you started in your quest for the ideal wood. If you live, for example, in Africa, one hardwood native to this continent is African Pearwood. This wood gets generally used for making veneer, fine furniture, turned objects, specialty items, and cabinetry.

African Pearwood has the scientific name Baillonella toxisperma, the only species in the Baillonella genus. It inhabits tropical and subtropical lowland forests and has a Janka Hardness rating of 1,790 Janka or 7,960 N. Moreover, it is slightly harder than the Bolivian Rosewood (1,780 Janka), African Padauk (1,725 Janka), and many other hardwoods.

Characteristics and Properties of African Pearwood

African Pearwood also gets referred to as Moabi or Djave Nut. It can grow up to 200 feet with a maximum 6-foot-wide trunk diameter. It can have up to 100 feet of straight cylindrical boles; in some older trees, you can find butt swelling. If you intend to use this wood, it will be best to know its succinct properties and characteristics:

Appearance and Color

African Pearwood comes with a somewhat pinkish-brown heartwood. Occasionally, it has a darker reddish-brown hue. Its color also tends to darken over time as it ages. Moreover, its sapwood carries a grayish-brown tone. Besides, its figured patterns are visible in the forms of quilted, mottled, pommeled, and beeswing. It has fine and even texture as well as straight grain, though occasionally, you can see wavy grains with interesting patterns. 

Texture and Grain

As mentioned above, African Pearwood exhibits wavy to straight grains with even texture. It also features interlocking grains with straight grain that looks uniform and attractive. You will also notice a little shimmer or figure on its surface. 

This wood is excellently stable with a fine-textured surface, perfect for hand operations and machining. Nevertheless, it has silica in its wood that could dull blades and cutters with ease. 

Its end grain is characterized by diffuse-porous features with solitary and radial multiples. Besides, it features large pores in a diagonal or radial pattern. It also features little rays spaced close to each other. 

Rot Resistance

With a high Janka Hardness rating of 1,790 Jankas, African Pearwood is hard and durable compared to other wood types. It doesn’t shrink and expand much and exhibits good resistance to insect attacks. Thus, this wood has a very durable rating.

Applications and Uses of African Pearwood

If you live in Asia or some far-flung islands of the Pacific, you might not have access to African Pearwood. But if you ever gain access to this wood, you can use it in various ways. Its remarkable strength and durability make it best suited for exterior construction and joinery. Besides, it is a primary choice for commercial and residential flooring in areas where this wood is available.

African Pearwood is also great for carving and wood turning. You can likewise use it for cabinetry, fixtures, and furniture. Besides, you can utilize it for making joinery and decorative veneer. Others would also use this for containers, exterior doors, decorative flooring, cabinetwork, and many other applications. It also gets used for high-end furniture making. 

Guide on Working with African Pearwood

African Pearwood belongs to the moderately dense hardwood. Thus, you can quickly work with it using your power or hand tools. Nevertheless, it sometimes has figured grain patterns prone to tear out and chipping when you machine it. Besides, it contains silica, making blades and cutters easy to dull. 

You can turn and glue this wood with ease. It also finishes well. Besides, it responds to steam-bending well. The few issues you might encounter when working with this wood include its blunting effect on blades and cutters. Moreover, when cutting this wood, sawdust might irritate your nostrils, so you must wear your dust mask. 

When nailing this wood, you must predrill it to ensure no splitting. Gluing also requires care because this wood is dense. 

African Pearwood doesn’t dry quickly. Thus, you need to provide it ample time to dry. It will be best if you also dry it with care. A slow drying process is necessary to achieve 10 to 12 percent Moisture Content. 

Is It Sustainable to Use African Pearwood for Building Furniture?

The tropical and subtropical moist forests inhabited by this tree are slowly being diminished due to logging. With threatened habitats, this wood species also gets threatened. Besides, since this wood is highly desirable with sterling qualities and properties, its exportation is very lucrative. Thus, the logging of this wood continues at a rapid clip, and its number is in decline. 

Therefore, IUCN considers this wood vulnerable, although it is not yet included in the list of CITES appendices. Nevertheless, it gets included in the IUCN Red List. Moreover, its population has decreased by almost 20 percent in the past years due to the exploitation of its habitats. 


African Pearwood is a vulnerable species of tree that gets threatened by exploiting its habitats. As such, you will only seldom see this wood in the market. Its supply in the United States is generally limited, and it gets only used in small planks and quantities for carving and turning. Its price in the U.S. is also high. 

This wood has many sterling qualities you would love to have in a wood. Nevertheless, if you don’t live in the countries mentioned above, you might find it hard to access this wood. But if you ever get access to this wood, you can use it for various applications.

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