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Tieghemella heckelii - (A.Chev.) Pierre ex Dubard

Common Name Baku
Family Sapotaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Dust produced from sawing the wood may cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes[299 ]. It has been suggested that this is caused by the presence of saponins or the contact allergen 2,6-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone[299 ]. A highly haemolytic saponin has been isolated from the wood[299 ].
Habitats Often an emergent tree of the high forest, it is found in moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forests[299 ]. There is a strong preference for undisturbed forest[299 ].
Range Western tropical Africa - Sierra Leone to Ghana.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Tieghemella heckelii Baku

Tieghemella heckelii Baku


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Tieghemella heckelii, otherwise known in various common names such as Baku, African Mahogany, Cherry Mahogany, and Dumori Butter, is a large tropical tree reaching a height of about 50 m upon maturity. Its trunk is angular at the base, not buttressed, and can be up to 2 m across. The bark is used in the treatment of blennorrhea and toothache while young buds are used for snake bites. Seed kernels contain edible fat known as 'dumori butter' or 'makore butter' which is used as cooking or seasoning oil. Aside from its edible use, seed fat is used as hair pomade and in soap manufacturing. The wood is medium weight, moderately hard, resistant to fungal and termite attacks, but not highly durable and is difficult to work. It is usually used as construction material and for furniture, floorings, railway sleepers, turner, sculptures, veneers, and plywood. This species is threatened by habitat loss and overexploitation. It is grown from seeds, air layering, or cuttings.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Tieghemella heckelii is an evergreen Tree growing to 50 m (164ft) by 40 m (131ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Baillonella heckelii (A.Chev.) Baehni Dumoria heckelii A.Chev Mimusops heckelii (A.Chev.) Hutch. & D

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

The seed kernels (cotyledons, known as 'baco') are rich in an edible fat known as 'dumori butter' or 'makore butter'[299 ]. It is locally popular as a cooking or seasoning oil and often preferred to palm oil[299 ]. The seeds are 60 - 75mm long, 1 - 3 being contained in each large, pulpy fruit[299 ]. The kernel comprises about 60% oil by weight[299 ]. The oil is yellowish and semi-fluid, has no distinct flavour or taste (occasionally slightly spicy), and consists of about 51% oleic acid, 43% stearic acid, 3.5% palmitic acid and 2.5% linoleic acid[299 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Odontalgic  Stings

The bark is reportedly effective for treating blennorrhoea and toothache[299 ]. Young buds are used to treat snake bites[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Furniture  Hair  Oil  Soap making  Wood

Other Uses: The fat from the seed is applied as a pomade to the body and hair, and used in soap production[299 ]. The wood resembles African mahogany (Khaya and Entandrophragma spp.), but the texture is finer. The heartwood is pinkish-, purplish- or reddish-brown with a silky lustre, often with a decorative figure in the form of flames or stripes; it is very distinctly demarcated from the up to 8 cm wide band of pinkish white to greyish brown sapwood. The grain is straight or interlocked, texture fine and even. The wood is medium-weight; moderately hard; it is rated as one of the most durable African timbers, being resistant to termites and fungi although damage by pinhole borers and powder-post beetles has been recorded occasionally. Although it is resistant to marine borers in temperate waters, the wood is not very durable in tropical (especially brackish) waters. The wood is somewhat difficult to work due to the presence of silica - blunting effects are moderately severe when sawing, and stellite-tipped sawteeth are recommended; it finishes well, staining and polishing give good results; pre-boring for nailing and screwing is recommended to avoid splitting; gluing properties are good; the timber can be peeled satisfactorily. The heartwood is very difficult to impregnate, the sapwood moderately easy[299 ]. Traded as makore or cherry mahogany, the wood is used for furniture, exterior and interior construction, flooring, doors, vehicle frames, sports goods, railway sleepers, turnery and sculptures[46 , 299 , 848 ]. It makes a good and decorative veneer, often used to face plywood, especially for marine uses[299 ].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a heavy soil[299 ]. Young trees are very tolerant of shade, but can survive in full sun, whilst older trees need a sunny position[299 ]. Initial growth of seedlings is fast, up to 70 cm in 4 months, but then often ceases while a strong taproot (c. 20 cm long) is formed[299 ]. Growth of the young trees is reported as slow, but strongly depends on the amount of light the plant receives. Under conditions above 40% of full light, growth may be up to 1 metre per year; whilst when light levels fall below 10% growth is almost nil[299 ]. In Ghana, young trees have been reported to be 1 - 2 metres tall after 1 - 1.5 years in a nursery[299 ]. However, in western Cote d'Ivoire, trees have been reported to be 3 metres tall after 4 years and 9 - 11 metres tall after 20 years with a stem diameter of 13 - 16cm. Occasional specimens have even reached 28 metres tall after 21 years with a diameter of 37cm. For 35 - 80- year-old trees the mean annual increment is 4 - 8mm[299 ]. Trees start flowering and fruiting after about 17 years, but sometimes in as little as 10 years[299 ]. A large tree produces approximately 3,000 - 4,000 fruits at a time[299 ]. The fruits are eaten by elephants, which are probably the main seed dispersers; bush-pigs are also reported to feed on the fruits[299 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe since the viability decreases rapidly once the seeds have been removed from the fruit[299 ]. In the nursery, seeds are usually planted at a spacing of 40 cm _ 40 cm under light shade. Seedbeds should be watered well. Germination is over 90% in optimal conditions, and without pre-treatment[299 ]. Germination begins after about 4 weeks, most seeds having germinated after 10 weeks, but it may continue for 16 weeks[299 ]. Saplings of about 2.5 years old and 1 - 1.5 metres tall are planted out into the field usually at the beginning of the rainy season, but in western C?te d?Ivoire 0.5 year-old seedlings are used[299 ]. The seeds are heavy, there are 30 - 50 seeds per kg[299 ]. Rodents may cause considerable damage to seeds and seedlings (cotyledons)[299 ]. Air layering. In a test, 39% of branches rooted after 8 weeks[299 ] Cuttings. The average rate of rooting of branch cuttings after 6 months was 73%[299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Abaku, Bacu, Baku, Gwah, Makore,

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Found In

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

Cameroon; Côte d'Ivoire; Gabon; Ghana; Liberia; Nigeria; Sierra Leone, Africa, Côte d'Ivoire, Ivory Coast, Liberia, West Africa,

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Endangered A1cd

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Tieghemella africanaDoukaTree45.0 10-12 FLMHFSNM324

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.


Expert comment


(A.Chev.) Pierre ex Dubard

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.

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