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Coula edulis - Baill.

Common Name African Walnut
Family Olacaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats It has its main distribution in the rain forest. Tolerates moderate shade and is normally a constituent of the upper reaches of the lower storey but is also found in the upper canopy. Semi-gregarious, it does not appear to be selective about sites[ 303 ].
Range Western Tropical Africa - Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Coula edulis African Walnut
Coula edulis African Walnut
Scamperdale flickr


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Coula edulis or African Walnut is an evergreen tree native to western Africa with a dense crown and grows up to 38 m in height. The leaves are simple and arranged alternately. The flowers are greenish yellow with four or five petals. The nut is an ellipsoidal drupe, smooth and red or green in colour. It is also known as Gabon nut. Plant parts have various uses. The nut is eaten raw or cooked. It can also be fermented and used as a condiment. The wood is very hard, heavy, and durable. It is resistant to attacks of fungi, termites, and marine borers. It is used in turnery, heavy carpentry, piles for bridges, etc.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Coula edulis is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Coula cabrae Wildem et Th. Dur.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Seed - raw or cooked[ 46 , 63 ]. A good dessert nut with a pleasant taste[ 63 ]. The oily kernel has a taste comparable to that of a chestnut or hazelnut[ 303 ]. It can be eaten raw, grilled or boiled[ 303 ]. The seed contains 50% oil, of which 87% is oleic acid[ 63 , 303 ]. The seed is also fermented and used as a condiment[ 46 ]. The spherical fruit is about 3cm long[ 335 ].


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.

None known


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Other Uses


Other Uses: The heartwood is dark red or violet brownish-red with dark brown veins; it is clearly demarcated from the 3 - 4cm wide band of pinkish-brown sapwood. The texture is fine; the grain straight or interlocked, sometimes wavy. The wood is very hard, very heavy, elastic, and very durable, resisting water well and resistant to fungal and insect attack, particularly termites and marine borers. It seasons slowly, with a high risk of distortion and checking; once dry it is moderately stable in service. The wood has a fairly high blunting effect upon tools, stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide are recommended; it polishes well; is easy to work, but has the disadvantage of being liable to shake and crack; it takes nails and screws well so long as it is pre-bored; gluing is correct for interior use only. In great demand, the wood is used in turnery and as a substitute for mahogany, as well as for heavy carpentry, industrial flooring, piles for bridges and railway ties[ 46 , 63 , 303 , 418 , 848 ]. The wood produces a suitable charcoal[ 303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming


Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Regional Crop

A plant of the hot, humid, lowland tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 25 - 35°c, but can tolerate 20 - 40°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 800 - 2,500mm[ 418 ]. Succeeds in full sun and in partial shade[ 418 ]. Shading is beneficial when plants are young[ 303 ]. The tree has no special soil requirements[ 303 ]. Prefers a well-drained soil[ 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7[ 418 ]. Fruit is normally borne plentifully in the wild[ 303 ].

Carbon Farming

  • 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.


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Seed - Because of the hard integument, germination is rather poor and may take up to a year[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Coula edulis or African Walnut. Also known as: Attia, Bodwe, Ekom, Emumu, Engom, Ewome, Ewoumeu, Fiya-towo, Gaboon-nut, Ivianlegbe, Kommol, Kumen, Kumini, Kumumu, Kumunu, Mengom, Ndokei, Ngoma, Noyer du pays, Slah, Sweh, Tokei, Udi, Woula,

Found In

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

Africa, Benin, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central African Republic, CAR, Congo DR, Congo R, Cote d'Ivoire, East Africa, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, 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.

None Known

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

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.


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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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