Lophira africana Banks ex G.Don
Lophira barteri Tiegh.
Lophira macrophylla Tiegh.
Lophira procera A.Chev.
Lophira simplex G.Don
Lophira tholloni Tiegh.
Common Name: Niam Tree
Niam tree is a very large tree growing from 40 - 60 metres tall with a long, narrow crown of steeply ascending branches[
]. The fluted bole is long, straight and clear, it can be unbranched for up to 30 metres and 120 - 180 cm in diameter, with large buttresses[
One of the giant trees of the African rain-forest, it is also one of the most exploited species for wood in West Africa, providing a strong, very durable, heavy construction timber[
]. The tree is also harvested from the wild for its seed, which is used to extract a good quality edible oil[
This species has been listed as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List because of the large scale destruction of wet evergreen forest throughout its range; the over-exploitation of this species as a timber; slow rates of growth; and poor regeneration levels in less than optimum conditions[
]. The plant is common and widespread in Cameroon, however, where it regenerates easily in many areas and does not appear threatened[
Western tropical Africa - Guinea to Zaire.
Evergreen moist rain-forest at elevations of 550 - 1,300 metres[
]. Evergreen and moist deciduous forests, in freshwater swamp forests, and close to riverbanks[
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Grows best in a sunny position[
]. Plants are sensitive to drought[
It is estimated that is takes 220 years for a tree to reach a girth of 2.7 metres in Nigeria[
Light gaps in the forest are necessary for successful regeneration, as seed germination does not occur in shady understorey[
The fruits can be used to make an edible oil[
The plant is a pioneer species and is representative of a disturbed forest[
An oil obtained from the seed is used as a hair oil and is also suitable for making soap[
The heartwood is dark red, chocolate brown, or purple brown with conspicuous white deposits in the vessels; it is clearly demarcated from the 2 - 5cm wide band of pale pink sapwood; there is an intermediate zone between the heartwood and sapwood. The texture is coarse; the grain usually interlocked; lustre low; there is no characteristic odour or taste. The wood is very dense; very hard; very heavy; elastic; very durable, being resistant to fungi, dry wood borers, termites and toredo. It seasons slowly, with a high risk of checking and distortion; once dry it is poorly stable in service. It is very difficult to work with hand and machine tools; there is a severe blunting effect if machined when dry so stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; it can be dressed to a smooth finish, though there can be difficulties due to the interlocked grain; nailing and screwing are good, but require pre-boring; the gluing properties are usually good for interior purposes, but care must be taken because of the dense wood. It is resistant to acids and has good weathering properties. It is used for heavy, durable construction work, harbour work such as jetties, heavy-duty flooring, parquet flooring, railroad crossties[
]. Because the wood is rich in silica, and is resistant to marine borers, it is favoured for use in jetties[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe since the seed has a short viability[
]. Even sown fresh, germination rates are usually less than 50%, dropping to 5% after 3 months[
]. Germination takes 3 - 5 weeks[
]. To improve growth in the nursery, it is recommended to add soil from under an established tree to the substrate to ensure development of mycorrhizal fungi[
Air layering is possible. A rooting percentage of marcots of more than 60% has been obtained with cow dung as substrate and IBA (0.8%) as growth hormone[
Stem cuttings are also possible[
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