Please donate to support our ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ Project. The Project is directed at enabling designers of ‘carbon farms’ and ‘food forests’: agroecosystems of perennial plants, to choose the most appropriate plants for their requirements and site conditions. We are working on a subset of plants in the PFAF database identified as having the most potential for inclusion in such designs. We are adding search terms and icons to those plants pages, and providing a range of search options aligned to categories of plants and crop yields, with Help facilities including videos. More >>>

Follow Us:


Guibourtia copallifera - Benn.

Common Name Kobo Tree, Sierra Leone gum copal
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats In nearly pure stands on mountain slopes; torrent sides; on sandstone; flooded valleys[328 ].
Range Western tropical Africa - Guinea-Bissau to Cote D'Ivoire.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Guibourtia copallifera Kobo Tree, Sierra Leone gum copal
Guibourtia copallifera Kobo Tree, Sierra Leone gum copal
© Barbara Eichhorn; African plants - A Photo Guide


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Guibourtia copallifera is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Copaifera copallifera (Benn.) Milne-Redh. Copaifera copallina Baill. Copaifera guibourtiana Benn. Copaiva copallifera (Benn.) Kuntze Copaiva guibourtiana Lyons


Edible Uses

None known


Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The resin obtained from the tree is used for medicinal purposes[317 ]. The bark and leaves are also used medicinally[317 ].


Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

Read More

Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

The tree is a source of Sierra Leone copal, used in varnishes[46 , 317 ]. Copal is a hard resin, obtained from various tropical trees, that is used to make varnish[K ]. The wood has some resemblance to rosewood[316 ]. The heartwood is pink, vivid red, or red-brown with purple streaks or veins, on exposure becomes yellow or medium brown with a reddish tint[316 ]. The sapwood is whitish and clearly demarcated[316 ]. The texture is fine and even, the grain straight or interlocked, lustrous, sometimes highly figured[316 ]. It has an unpleasant odour when first cut which disappears on drying[316 ]. Though quite hard and heavy it works, saws, and planes rather well and produces a good finish, glues well[316 ]. The heartwood has good durability and is resistant to termite attack[316 ]. It is a good wood for turning, and is used to make fine furniture and cabinetwork, decorative veneers, fancy turnery, inlay work[316 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming


Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[755 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, rubber, biomass products gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, butane, propane, biogas. Plants are usually resprouting plants and saps.
  • Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Most pharmaceuticals are synthesized from petroleum but 25% of modern medicines are based on plants.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.


Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now



Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Gum-copal; true gum-copal; red gum; yellow gum; ‘gun copper’, pau ferro, pó de fero, kaki, mélamberi, u séra, é untu, yuntu, melámberi, bu mana, copalier; copalier de Guinea

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Burkina Faso; Côte d'Ivoire; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Liberia; Mali; Senegal; Sierra Leone

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Guibourtia coleospermaBushman bean, Large false mopaneTree20.0 10-12 SLMNM222
Guibourtia demeuseiAfrican RosewoodTree25.0 10-12 SLMHNMWe004
Guibourtia pellegrianaAkume, Bubinga, WakaTree25.0 10-12 SLMHNM004
Guibourtia tessmanniiBubinga, KevazingoTree50.0 10-12 SLMHNM004

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Guibourtia copallifera  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.
Web Design & Management