Woods of Tanzania
Tanzania is blessed with abundant natural resources. Out of the many resources available, the best type of timber is readily available. Four types of timber are grown, namely Mninga, Mkongo, Mvule and Mpodo. We purchase timber after ascertaining that the wood that is offered for sale has been grown sustainably and does comply with all the Tanzanian laws and regulations. This way, we avoid obtaining timber from illegal sellers as a part of our corporate social reasonability and business ethics. We manufacture bespoke hardwood pieces and can custom make using the wood of your choice in the size and finish that you desire.
It is a very popular wood and is in very high demand, being the preferred choice of buyers for manufacturing household and office furniture in Africa as a fine wood for furniture and quality cabinets is Mninga (Pterocarpus angolensis) is locally grown in the beautiful highlands of Iringa District in Tanzania. It is also grown in Zambia, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Mninga is easy to dry naturally and also by use of kilns. Experts warn that the process of drying will be slow, especially if the material being dried is thick. The wood will dry well with little warping and no tendency to check or split.
Unlike Mninga, Mvule is one of the most popular timber species in East Africa. Milicia excelsa is native to tropical Africa, mostly East and West Africa. It is known as African teak in English, Iroko in Nigeria, Odum (Ghana) and Mvule (Uganda). The wood is an attractive brown colour, the hard, dark heartwood is durable on the ground, works easily, and is heavy, strong, open grained and resistant to termites. Mvule is a hardwood which is a good timber to be used doors, flooring and outdoor exposed surfaces. The timber secretes a natural oil that makes it durable. It withstands varied weather conditions. The leaves and the ashes also have medicinal uses. Its importance to the environment is significant. Studies have shown that Mvule acts as a carbon sink.
Afzelia quanzensis, known in Kiswahili as mkongo or mbambakofi, grows in dry low-altitude zones of between 0 to 1,800 metres above sea level. Where annual rains range from 400 to 1,700mm. It is known as a ‘spectacle case’ tree in English, because of the shape of its fruit. The tree is widespread in different habitats, from Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique to Angola. It grows well in deep, well-drained, sandy soils. Mkongo produces a valuable hardwood and has been extensively exploited for this. It also provides edible leaves (enjoyed in southern Africa). It can be used to as medicines for treatment of gonorrhoea, chest pains, kidney problems, bilharzia, eczma, eye problems and snakebites. Timber from mkongo has good natural durability, so it does not need to be treated with preservatives, it is immune from wood-attacking insects. It is used to make furniture in Tanzania and Kenya and is valued for joinery and makes attractive doors, window frames and flooring. The wood is also good for producing decorative, carved pieces; known historically for making the beautiful traditional Zanzibar-style doors.
Mtiki or Teak trees, or Tectona grandis can be found in the Mtibwa and Longuza Forest Plantations in Turiani, Morogoro Region and Usambara Mountains – Muheza, Tanga Region. To ensure that you get a good teak wood, check it’s colour – the highest quality teak wood will have a golden brown colour. The real teak wood has a long, straight grain. The low-quality teak wood will feature larger knots. Teak is esteemed for its great density and rot-resistance qualities. Its growth period is between 15 and 35 years, which accounts for its high content of natural teak oils. Teak is one of the strongest and most durable hardwoods, especially when exposed to weather conditions such as rain and sun. It can be used to create tables, bench seats, storage, chairs and sun lounges. It can also be left natural, painted, stained, waxed or varnished depending on the style of the furniture and your individual taste preferences.
Podocarpus usambarensis is a tree growing in highland rain forests, in altitudes of 950-2,700 m. In Tanzania it is found in Kilimanjaro, Pare, Usambara, Iringa, Mbulu, Njombe and Uluguru. It is popularly used in firewood, timber, poles, tool handles and made into spoons, combs etc. but not commonly used for furniture making. It’s bark is pale grey to pale brown smooth when young, becoming rough and flaking with age. The leaves of this tree are small, narrow, shiny green, to 5 cm long. A slow-growing species. It needs nurse trees in the first 15 years of establishment. Rotation period is 50-75 years. There are two varieties in Tanzania: P. usambarensis war usambarensis found in highland areas, and var. dawei found in ground-water forests in Minziro Forest Reserve in Bukoba and extending to Masaka in Uganda.