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ZEBRAWOOD

Common Name(s): Zebrawood, Zebrano

Scientific Name: Microberlinia brazzavillensis

Distribution: West Africa

Tree Size: 65-130 ft (20-40 m) tall, 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 50 lbs/ft3 (805 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .67, .81

Janka Hardness: 1,830 lbf (8,160 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 17,800 lbf/in2 (122.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,374,000 lbf/in2 (16.37 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 9,210 lbf/in2 (63.5 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 7.6%, Tangential: 10.8%, Volumetric: 17.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light brown or cream color with dark blackish brown streaks vaguely resembling a zebra’s stripes. Depending on whether the wood is flatsawn or quartersawn, the stripes can be either chaotic and wavy (flatsawn), or somewhat uniform (quartersawn).

Grain/Texture: Has a fairly coarse texture and open pores. Grain is usually wavy or interlocked.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, few to very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; heartwood deposits (brown) occasionally present; narrow rays not visible without lens, spacing fairly close; parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, unilateral, vasicentric, winged, lozenge, and confluent, and banded (marginal).

Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as durable and is also resistant to insect damage.

Workability: The wood saws well, but can be very difficult to plane or surface due to the prevalence of interlocking grain. Tearout is common. Zebrawood glues and finishes well, though a transparent pore filler may be necessary for the large open pores which occur on both dark and light surfaces.

Odor: Has a characteristic, unpleasant smell when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Zebrawood has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Zebrawood tends to be fairly expensive, though usually not as prohibitively expensive as other exotics such as Ebony or Rosewood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range. (A closely-related, lesser-used species in Cameroon, Microberlinia bisulcata, is also listed as critically endangered.)

Common Uses: Zebrawood is frequently quartersawn and used as veneer. Other uses include: tool handles, furniture, boatbuilding, and skis.

Comments: Sometimes called Zebrano, the wood is strong and stiff, with a fairly high density. However, the wood is much more frequently used for its bold and unique striping.