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Tieghemella africana - Pierre

Common Name Douka
Family Sapotaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Dust from sawn wood may cause irritation to skin and mucous membranes. It has been suggested that this is caused by the presence of saponins or the contact allergen 2,6-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone. A highly haemolytic saponin has been isolated from the wood; on hydrolysis it gave d-glucose, l-rhamnose and d-xylose[299 ].
Habitats An emergent tree of primary rain forest, most common in coastal lowland and diminishing towards the eastern parts of its range. It occurs scattered in the forest, but may locally be more abundant[299 ].
Range West tropical Africa - Cote D'Ivoire, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Tieghemella africana Douka

Tieghemella africana Douka


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Douka, Tieghemella africana, is a large tropical tree growing up to 50 m tall and 2.5 m across. It has an enormous crown and spreading, heavy branches. The bole is cylindrical and sometimes buttressed. The inner bark is fibrous and yields a sticky latex. The leaves are simple and alternate. The fruits are oval and contain one to three seeds each. The seeds yield fat which can be used externally to treat rheumatism. The yellowish and semi-fluid seed fat is edible and used as a cooking or seasoning oil. The wood is considered as one of the most durable African timbers because it is resistant to termites and fungal attacks. It is used for furniture, exterior and interior construction, flooring, doors, turnery, sculptures, veneer, plywood, etc.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Tieghemella africana is an evergreen Tree growing to 45 m (147ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Baillonella africana (Pierre) Baehni Dumoria africana (Pierre) Dubard Lecomtedoxa vazii Dubard Mimus

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

The seed kernels are rich in an edible fat, which is locally popular as a cooking or seasoning oil[299 ]. The fatty oil from the seed kernel is yellowish and semi-fluid, has a pronounced flavour and taste, and consists of about 55% oleic acid, 21.5% stearic acid, 16.5% palmitic acid and 5% linoleic acid. The kernel comprises about 50% of fat[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.

The fat obtained from the seeds is used externally to treat rheumatism[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Furniture  Oil  Wood

Other Uses: 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

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Douka is a plant of the lowland humid tropics. Young trees are tolerant of shade, but can survive in full sun[299 ]. Trees have a moderately fast rate of growth. Young trees were on average 9 metres tall 6 years after planting in Gabon. The survival rate was about 90% and was almost equal when planted exposed to full sunlight in comparison with planting in the shade of forest cleared from undergrowth. The young trees grow faster when planted in light shade; 11-year-old trees were on average 18.5 metres tall and 13cm in diameter when planted in light shade, and 15.5 metres tall and 9cm in diameter in full sunlight[299 ]. In a 66-year-old plantation in Gabon the mean annual increment is 0.4cm in diameter and 1.8 cubic metres per hectare in wood volume[299 ]. The fruits are eaten by elephants, which are probably the main seed dispersers[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, weighing 15 - 20g each. They should be planted within a few weeks because viability decreases rapidly[299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Biadjo, N'duka, Nom adjap elang, Okola,

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Found In

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

Cameroon; Congo; Gabon; Sierra Leone, Africa, Cabinda, Central Africa, CAR, Central African Republic, Congo DR, Congo R, Equatorial Guinea,

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 heckeliiBakuTree50.0 10-12 MMHNM424

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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