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Amphimas pterocarpoides Harms

Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 12: 12 (1913).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Chromosome number
2n = 22
Origin and geographic distribution
Amphimas pterocarpoides is widespread from Guinea east to DR Congo and Sudan, and south to northern Gabon.
The wood (trade names: lati, yaya, bokanga) is used for interior construction, carpentry, flooring, planks, interior trim, joinery, furniture, frames, crates, boxes, toys, novelties, veneer and plywood; it is also locally used for canoes, huts, mortars and as frames to support yam. It has been used for railway sleepers and poles, although use in contact with soil is discouraged.
The reddish resin from the bark is used in traditional medicine to treat dysentery, anaemia, haematuria, dysmenorrhoea, blennorrhoea, schistosomiasis and mumps, and as poison antidote. The inner bark is administered to treat cough and in a steam bath against yaws and sores on the feet. A decoction of twig bark is applied to prevent threatening abortion, and a wood decoction is drunk to treat impotence.
Production and international trade
Amphimas pterocarpoides and Amphimas ferrugineus Pierre ex Pellegr. are both traded as lati. In 2003 Cameroon exported about 70 m³ of lati logs and 130 m³ of sawnwood. In 2004 Cameroon exported about 2500 m³ of lati logs and 110 m³ of sawnwood. The wood of Amphimas pterocarpoides can be found on a very small scale as veneer in Europe, under the name ‘white wenge’, but it is now mainly used locally in Africa. In Côte d’Ivoire it is sold for local utilization, but it is considered of lesser quality.
The heartwood is yellowish brown, often with whitish markings that darken with age, and more or less distinctly demarcated from the 5–9 cm thick, yellow-white to pale brown sapwood. The grain is usually straight, sometimes wavy, texture medium to coarse. The wood has a coarse silver figure.
The wood is moderately heavy. At 12% moisture content, the density is 670–880 kg/m³. The rates of shrinkage from green to 11% moisture content are 2.9% radial and 5.6% tangential, and from green to oven dry 5.4–6.4% radial and 9.7–10.8% tangential. The wood dries slowly, with severe risk of deformation, checking or case hardening. It is recommended to quarter-saw the timber before drying. Some pre-drying is recommended before kiln drying. After drying, the wood is moderately stable in service.
At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 80–129 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 11,600–16,300 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 50–64 N/mm², shear 16 N/mm², cleavage 12–16 N/mm, Janka side hardness 5800 N and Janka end hardness 6300 N.
The wood normally saws and works well with standard equipment, but stellite-tipped sawteeth are recommended for sawing large logs. It can be planed to a smooth surface, but with some dulling effect on cutting edges. The nailing and screwing properties are good, with satisfactory holding properties, but pre-boring is often needed. The gluing properties are satisfactory, and painting and varnishing are easy. The wood is suitable for sliced veneer and plywood production. It is moderately durable to non-durable; it is susceptible to dry-wood borer and Lyctus beetle attack, but often moderately resistant to fungal and termite attacks. The heartwood is poorly to moderately permeable to preservative treatment, the sapwood is permeable. The pulping characteristics for paper production are rather poor and the wood pulp can only be used in combination with better pulp.
The presence of alkaloids has been demonstrated for the bark and pods; the bark is poisonous to mice and fish. The heartwood contains the isoflavone afromosin.
Adulterations and substitutes
The wood of Amphimas ferrugineus is very similar to that of Amphimas pterocarpoides and mixed in trade in regions of Central Africa where both species occur, e.g. in Cameroon. In Ghana Amphimas pterocarpoides wood is considered a suitable substitute for the wood of Milicia excelsa (Welw.) C.C.Berg. It has some resemblance to the wood of Eribroma oblonga (Mast.) M.Bodard ex Hallé.
Large deciduous tree up to 45(–50) m tall; bole straight, cylindrical, branchless for up to 25(–30) m, up to 130(–180) cm in diameter, with thick buttresses; bark surface rough, with rectangular scales, greyish brown to dark brown, inner bark thick, soft, fibrous, orange to brown, exuding a red exudate; crown hemispherical; young twigs densely reddish brown hairy. Leaves arranged spirally in tufts at the ends of branches, imparipinnately compound with 11–21 leaflets; stipules leafy, up to 2.5 cm long, caducous; petiole 2.5–4.5 cm long, rachis up to 30 cm long but sometimes longer, densely hairy; leaflets alternate to opposite, with thread-like stipels at base of 2–5 mm long petiolules, (2–)5–13 cm × (1.5–)2.5–5 cm, ovate to oblong or elliptical, rounded to shortly acuminate at apex, sometimes slightly notched, glabrous except midrib below, pinnately veined with rather indistinct veins below. Inflorescence a lax terminal or axillary compound raceme c. 20 cm long, strongly branched, many-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, fragrant; pedicel c. 1 mm long; calyx campanulate, c. 2 mm long, with short lobes, densely brown hairy; petals free, equal, c. 6 mm long, deeply 2-lobed, whitish; stamens 10, fused at base, c. 5 mm long; ovary superior, stipitate, glabrous, style slender, c. 3.5 mm long. Fruit a pendulous, flat, elliptical to oblong pod, 8–22 cm × 3–7 cm, with large papery wing all around, reticulately veined, golden brown, indehiscent or slowly dehiscing with 2 valves, 1(–2)-seeded. Seed kidney-shaped, 1.5–2(–3) cm long, brown. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl 3–4 cm long, epicotyl 5–6 cm long; cotyledons thick and fleshy, 1.5–2 cm long; first two leaves opposite, simple and stipulate.
Other botanical information
Amphimas comprises 2 or 3 species, and is confined to West and Central Africa. The affinity of the genus is still uncertain. It is usually classified within the Sophoreae tribe of Papilionaceae, but has also been classified in Caesalpiniaceae because of its corolla that lacks the typical papilionaceous structure. Amphimas ferrugineus differs from Amphimas pterocarpoides in more hairy leaflets having more conspicuous veins. Amphimas tessmannii Harms has been described on the basis of material from Equatorial Guinea; its status is uncertain.
Wood-anatomical description (IAWA hardwood codes):
Growth rings: 2: growth ring boundaries indistinct or absent. Vessels: 5: wood diffuse-porous; 13: simple perforation plates; 22: intervessel pits alternate; 23: shape of alternate pits polygonal; 27: intervessel pits large ( 10 μm); 29: vestured pits; 30: vessel-ray pits with distinct borders; similar to intervessel pits in size and shape throughout the ray cell; 42: mean tangential diameter of vessel lumina 100–200 μm; 43: mean tangential diameter of vessel lumina 200 μm; (45: vessels of two distinct diameter classes, wood not ring-porous); 46: 5 vessels per square millimetre. Tracheids and fibres: 61: fibres with simple to minutely bordered pits; 66: non-septate fibres present; (69: fibres thin- to thick-walled); 70: fibres very thick-walled. Axial parenchyma: 83: axial parenchyma confluent; 85: axial parenchyma bands more than three cells wide; 92: four (3–4) cells per parenchyma strand. Rays: 98: larger rays commonly 4- to 10-seriate; 104: all ray cells procumbent; 115: 4–12 rays per mm. Storied structure: 118: all rays storied; (119: low rays storied, high rays non-storied); 120: axial parenchyma and/or vessel elements storied; 122: rays and/or axial elements irregularly storied. Mineral inclusions: 136: prismatic crystals present; 142: prismatic crystals in chambered axial parenchyma cells.
(P. Détienne & P.E. Gasson)
Growth and development
Natural regeneration is generally abundant. Amphimas pterocarpoides is classified as a non-pioneer light demander, and regeneration is common in small gaps in the forest. Seedlings tolerate some shade, but saplings require more light for proper growth, developing straight and unbranched stems until they are at least 70 cm tall. In the semi-deciduous forest zone in Côte d’Ivoire, 14-year-old Amphimas pterocarpoides trees planted in full sun have a mean bole diameter of 19.6 cm, but the diameter growth in natural forest is only 0.2–0.4 cm per year. Trees usually flower when they are leafless in the dry season, in Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana from October to December. Fruits take about 3 months to ripen. The winged fruits are spread by wind. The roots have nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Amphimas pterocarpoides occurs in different types of forest, from dense evergreen forest to deciduous forest, sometimes also in secondary forest and bush fallow. It may become common in agricultural land as the trees are difficult to fell. In Ghana it is most common in moist evergreen forest, but is also fairly common in moist semi-deciduous forest. It prefers high rainfall areas, and its abundance decreases with decreasing soil fertility. Amphimas pterocarpoides is poorly resistant to forest fires.
Propagation and planting
The 1000-seed weight of Amphimas pterocarpoides is about 800 g. Seeds germinate within 5–15 days, but seedlings stop growth for a few weeks when they have developed the first 2 leaves.
In Liberia, where Amphimas pterocarpoides is rather frequent, the average stock (more than 50 cm bole diameter) is estimated at 43 m³/km² and the total volume of such trees at 1,700,000 m³. In Sierra Leone Amphimas pterocarpoides is considered a weed in production forest.
Diseases and pests
In Liberia and Sierra Leone ambrosia beetles often attack the living tree and create holes in the wood.
The minimum diameter for felling is 50 cm in Liberia, 60 cm in Ghana and 70 cm in Côte d’Ivoire.
Handling after harvest
After felling, logs should be removed rapidly from the forest because they are liable to blue stain attack. When left for longer periods, they should be treated with preservatives. Usually, logs float in water and thus can be transported by river.
Genetic resources
There are no indications that Amphimas pterocarpoides is threatened by genetic erosion. It is not only widespread, but also locally common with abundant regeneration. Moreover, it has a wide ecological amplitude.
Until recently the wood of Amphimas pterocarpoides was considered of rather poor quality, but with the depletion of many commercial timber species it is becoming of more interest, especially for local construction and joinery, but presumably also for export in the future. However, much research is still needed on growth rates, ecological requirements and management of natural stands on a sustainable basis.
Major references
• Ayarkwa, J., 1994. Strength properties of yaya (Amphimas pterocarpoides). Ghana Journal of Forestry 1: 57–59.
• Bolza, E. & Keating, W.G., 1972. African timbers: the properties, uses and characteristics of 700 species. Division of Building Research, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. 710 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 1995. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Families J–L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 857 pp.
• CIRAD Forestry Department, 2003. Lati. [Internet] Tropix 5.0. afr/lati.pdf. Accessed February 2007.
• Dudek, S., Förster, B. & Klissenbauer, K., 1981. Lesser known Liberian timber species. Description of physical and mechanical properties, natural durability, treatability, workability and suggested uses. GTZ, Eschborn, Germany. 168 pp.
• Richter, H.G. & Dallwitz, M.J., 2000. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. [Internet]. Version 18th October 2002. Accessed February 2007.
• Siepel, A., Poorter, L. & Hawthorne, W.D., 2004. Ecological profiles of large timber species. In: Poorter, L., Bongers, F., Kouamé, F.N. & Hawthorne, W.D. (Editors). Biodiversity of West African forests. An ecological atlas of woody plant species. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 391–445.
• Takahashi, A., 1978. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan, 248 pp.
• Vivien, J. & Faure, J.J., 1985. Arbres des forêts denses d’Afrique Centrale. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 565 pp.
• Voorhoeve, A.G., 1979. Liberian high forest trees. A systematic botanical study of the 75 most important or frequent high forest trees, with reference to numerous related species. Agricultural Research Reports 652, 2nd Impression. Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation, Wageningen, Netherlands. 416 pp.
Other references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Aboubakar, N., Dramane, K., Ebot, M.E., Ekpere, J.A., Enow-Orock, E.G., Focho, D., Gbilé, Z.O., Kamanyi, A., Kamsu, K.J., Keita, A., Mbenkum, T., Mbi, C.N., Mbiele, A.L., Mbome, I.L., Mubiru, N.K., Nancy, W.L., Nkongmeneck, B., Satabié, B., Sofowora, A., Tamze, V. & Wirmum, C.K., 1996. Contribution to ethnobotanical and floristic studies in Cameroon. CSTR/OUA, Cameroon. 641 pp.
• Aké Assi, L., Abeye, J., Guinko, S., Riguet, R. & Bangavou, X., 1985. Médecine traditionnelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Centrafricaine. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 140 pp.
• Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
• ATIBT (Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux), 1986. Tropical timber atlas: Part 1 – Africa. ATIBT, Paris, France. 208 pp.
• ATIBT (Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux), 2004. Tropical wood and wooden product export statistics. ATIBT Newsletter 20: 29–47.
• ATIBT (Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux), 2005. Statistics. ATIBT Newsletter 22: 26–47.
• Bouquet, A., 1969. Féticheurs et médecines traditionnelles du Congo (Brazzaville). Mémoires ORSTOM No 36. Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer. Paris, France. 282 pp.
• Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
• de la Mensbruge, G., 1966. La germination et les plantules des essences arborées de la forêt dense humide de la Côte d’Ivoire. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 389 pp.
• Durrieu de Madron, L., Favrichon, V., Dupuy, B., Bar-Hen, A. & Maître, H.-F., 1998. Croissance et productivité en forêt dense humide: bilan des expérimentations dans le dispositif d’Irobo, Côte d’Ivoire (1978–1990). Document Forafri 2. Cirad, Montpellier, France. 69 pp.
• Fouquet, D., 1984. Etude comparative de bois commerciaux provenant de continents différentes pouvant être confondus. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 205: 35–59.
• Gérard, J., Edi Kouassi, A., Daigremont, C., Détienne, P., Fouquet, D. & Vernay, M., 1998. Synthèse sur les caractéristiques technologiques des principaux bois commerciaux africains. Document Forafri 11. Cirad, Montpellier, France. 185 pp.
• Hawthorne, W.D., 1995. Ecological profiles of Ghanaian forest trees. Tropical Forestry Papers 29. Oxford Forestry Institute, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. 345 pp.
• Hawthorne, W. & Jongkind, C., 2006. Woody plants of western African forests: a guide to the forest trees, shrubs and lianes from Senegal to Ghana. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 1023 pp.
• InsideWood, undated. [Internet] Accessed May 2007.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Normand, D., 1960. Atlas des bois de la Côte d’Ivoire. Tome 3. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 182 pp.
• Normand, D. & Paquis, J., 1976. Manuel d’identification des bois commerciaux. Tome 2. Afrique guinéo-congolaise. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 335 pp.
• Sosef, M.S.M., Wieringa, J.J., Jongkind, C.C.H., Achoundong, G., Azizet Issembé, Y., Bedigian, D., van den Berg, R.G., Breteler, F.J., Cheek, M., Degreef, J., Faden, R.B., Goldblatt, P., van der Maesen, L.J.G., Ngok Banak, L., Niangadouma, R., Nzabi, T., Nziengui, B., Rogers, Z.S., Stévart, T., van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H., Walters, G. & de Wilde, J.J.F.E., 2006. Check-list des plantes vasculaires du Gabon. Checklist of Gabonese vascular plants. Scripta Botanica Belgica. Volume 35. National Botanic Garden of Belgium. 438 pp.
• Wilczek, R., Léonard, J., Hauman, L., Hoyle, A.C., Steyaert, R., Gilbert, G. & Boutique, R., 1952. Caesalpiniaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 3. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 234–554.
• Wilks, C. & Issembé, Y., 2000. Les arbres de la Guinée Equatoriale: Guide pratique d’identification: région continentale. Projet CUREF, Bata, Guinée Equatoriale. 546 pp.
Sources of illustration
• Vivien, J. & Faure, J.J., 1985. Arbres des forêts denses d’Afrique Centrale. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 565 pp.
• Wilczek, R., Léonard, J., Hauman, L., Hoyle, A.C., Steyaert, R., Gilbert, G. & Boutique, R., 1952. Caesalpiniaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 3. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 234–554.
A.T. Tchinda
Institut de Recherches Médicales et d’Etudes des Plantes Médicinales (IMPM), Ministère de la Recherche Scientifique et de l’Innovation, B.P. 6163, Yaoundé, Cameroun
P. Tané
Département de Chimie, Université de Dschang, B.P. 67, Dschang, Cameroun

D. Louppe
CIRAD, Département Environnements et Sociétés, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bât. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
J.R. Cobbinah
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
Photo editor
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Tchinda, A.T. & Tané, P., 2008. Amphimas pterocarpoides Harms. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild

1, base of bole; 2, flowering branch; 3, fruit; 4, seed.
Redrawn and adapted by Achmad Satiri Nurhaman

base of bole


leaves and fruits


obtained from
Carlton McLendon, Inc.

wood in transverse section

wood in tangential section

wood in radial section