Rodesian Teak Baikiaea plurijuga)
This timber is called Rhodesian, or Zambian teak because of its outstanding strengths, durability and stability. In Rhodesia and Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) it is as local equivalent of teak.
Distribution and supplies.
This species is limited to the relatively dry region drained by the upper Zambesi and Okavango rivers, an area including the western parts of Zambia and Rhodesia and adjoining portions of Angola, South-West Africa and Botswana. Compared with the giants of the tropical African rain forests. It is a small tree, commonly 9-15m (30-50ft.) high with a clear bole of 3-4.5m (10-15ft) up to 0.75m (2.5ft) in diameter. It is the most important indigenous timber tree exploited commercially in Zambia and Rhodesia where it is largely used for railway sleepers, construction work and furniture. The export trade is practically limited to flooring blocks manufactured form offcuts.
A handsome wood of distinctive appearance. The surface of freshly manufactured timber is light-brown marked with irregular black lines or flecks. On exposure to light it soon changes to reddish-brown, and after some years the red component disappears, leaving a beautiful dark-brown colour. The texture is fine and even, giving a smooth, hard surface; the grain is straight or slightly interlocked. The average density is about 0.9 (56 ib/ft3), i.e. appreciably harder and heavier than true teak.
Seasoning and movement.
'Rhodesian teak' dries slowly, but with the minimum of degrade. It is dimensionally stable under varying conditions of atmospheric humidity, being similar to mahogany in this respect, but less stable than true teak.
Strength and bending properties.
Laboratory tests a material in the form of flooring blocks have shown that it is appreciably harder than Canadian hard maple. In steam-bending tests it tended to buckle and was rated as the only moderately good.
Durability and preservative treatment.
It is well known for its outstanding durability under tropical conditions, and is resistant to termites. The heartwood is extremely resistant to impregnation with preservatives.
Working and finishing properties.
The timber is difficult to work and has a fairly severe blunting effect on cutting edges. A clean finish is usually obtained in planning. It should be pre-bored for nails, to prevent splitting.
Outside the country of origin 'Rhodesia teak' is mainly used for flooring. It makes a highly decorative, hard–wearing floor, wears smoothly under all conditions all pedestrian traffic, and is very stable under varying conditions of temperature and humidity. It is also widely used for furniture.