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Guarea cedrata (A.Chev.) Pellegr.

Bull. Soc. Bot. France 75: 480 (1928).
Chromosome number
2n = 72
Trichilia cedrata A.Chev. (1909).
Vernacular names
Light bosse, pink mahogany, pink African cedar, scented guarea, Nigerian pearwood (En). Bossé clair, acajou bossé, cèdre d’Afrique, faux acajou (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Guarea cedrata occurs from Sierra Leone east to Uganda, and south to Gabon and DR Congo.
The wood (trade names: light bosse, bosse) is valued for house building, flooring, joinery, interior trim, panelling, window frames, doors, ship building, vehicle bodies, furniture, cabinet work, decorative boxes, crates, veneer and plywood. It is suitable for musical instruments, toys, novelties, carving and turnery, but gum exudation may have adverse effects on the products. Traditionally, the wood is used for dug-out canoes. It is also used as fuelwood and for charcoal production.
The bark is used in traditional medicine. Bark decoctions or macerations are taken to treat stomach-ache, food poisoning and gonorrhoea, and used as a wash against kidney pain, bleeding after childbirth, rheumatism and leprosy. Guarea cedrata trees are sometimes left after forest clearing to serve as shade trees for coffee and cocoa plantations, e.g. in Cameroon.
Production and international trade
The wood of Guarea cedrata, Guarea laurentii De Wild. and Guarea thompsonii Sprague & Hutch. is all traded as ‘bosse’. In the past, Côte d’Ivoire was the main exporter of Guarea wood, exporting 45,000 m³ in 1971 and 21,000 m³ in 1983. Congo exported 11,000 m³ of Guarea logs in 2003, at an average price of US$ 174/m³, 15,000 m³ in 2004, at an average price of US$ 177/m³, and 21,000 m³ in 2005, at an average price of US$ 172/m³. Exports of Guarea sawnwood from Congo were 4000 m³ in 2004, at an average price of US$ 333/m³, and 9000 m³ in 2005, at an average price of US$ 304/m³. Small amounts of veneer were exported from Congo in 2003 and 2004, at an average price of US$ 331/m³ and US$ 363/m³, respectively. Cameroon exported 12,250 m³ and 11,700 m³ of Guarea logs in 1997 and 1998, respectively, and exports of sawn ‘bossé’ were 4150 m³ in 2003, 3300 m³ in 2004, and 3000 m³ in 2006. Ghana exported 2450 m³ of Guarea logs in 1994, at an average price of US$ 221/m³, and 3710 m³ of sawn wood, at an average price of US$ 424/m³. The Central African Republic exported 3200 m³ of logs in 1999, and 2300 m³ in 2006. Guarea has some importance as export timber in Gabon, with an annual export volume in 2001–2005 of about 5000 m³ of logs for all Guarea species together. However, the share of Guarea cedrata in Gabon is small because it is uncommon there.
The heartwood is pale pinkish brown when freshly cut, darkening to reddish brown upon exposure. It is usually distinctly demarcated from the yellowish white, 5–10 cm wide sapwood. The grain is straight or interlocked, texture fine to moderately coarse. The wood sometimes shows a mottled or curly figure, and has a cedar-like smell when fresh. It may have a gummy exudate.
The wood is medium-weight, with a density of 545–680 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It generally air dries fairly easily with little degrade, and has little tendency to warping or splitting during kiln drying. The rates of shrinkage are moderately high, from green to oven dry 3.5–5.6% radial and 5.3–7.9% tangential. Once dry, the wood is fairly stable in service.
At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 76–145 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 9400–12,900 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 47–60 N/mm², shear 10–15 N/mm², cleavage 11–24 N/mm, Janka side hardness 4000 N and Janka end hardness 5420 N.
The wood is usually fairly easy to saw and work, with moderate blunting effects on cutting edges because the wood contains some silica (up to 1.0%). It can be finished to a smooth surface, but there may be a slight tendency to pick up in planing quarter-sawn material and gum may appear at the surfaces. The wood holds nails and screws well, but may split upon nailing. It glues satisfactorily except when gum is present; the use of a filler is recommended for staining and polishing. The bending properties are usually satisfactory. Good-quality veneer can be produced by both rotary cutting and slicing. The wood is moderately durable and only occasionally attacked by termites and pinhole borers, but it is slightly more susceptible to attacks by powder-post beetles. The heartwood is strongly resistant to impregnation, the sapwood permeable to moderately resistant. The wood dust may cause irritation to the skin.
Some preliminary pulping tests gave satisfactory results for paper production. The wood fibres are about 1.4 mm long, with a diameter of 21 μm, a lumen width of 13 μm and a cell wall thickness of 4 μm. The wood contains 54% cellulose, 40% α-cellulose, 30% lignin and 13% pentosans. The solubility in ether is 0.6%, in alcohol-benzene 0.7%, in hot water 1.9% and in 1% NaOH 11.2%.
The bark contains essential oil, which consists exclusively of sesquiterpenes, with as major constituents β-caryophyllene (45%) and globulol (11%). Limonoids, including dregeanin, have been isolated from the bark.
Adulterations and substitutes
The wood of Guarea thompsonii Sprague & Hutch. is sometimes mixed with that of Guarea cedrata, but is in general slightly heavier and darker. The wood resembles that of Khaya spp., and is close to that of Entandrophragma spp. It is also difficult to distinguish from that of Beilschmiedia spp. (‘kanda’).
Evergreen, dioecious, large tree up to 45(–55) m tall; bole branchless for up to 26 (–41) m, usually straight and cylindrical, sometimes fluted, up to 150(–200) cm in diameter, sometimes with spreading, blunt buttresses up to 3 m high; bark surface greyish to yellowish brown and smooth but exfoliating in small circular scales leaving concentric rings of markings (mussel shell pattern), inner bark pinkish or reddish pale brown, fibrous, with cedar-like smell; crown rounded, dense; twigs densely yellowish-brown hairy but glabrescent. Leaves arranged spirally, paripinnately or imparipinnately compound with (3–)4–6(–7) pairs of leaflets; stipules absent; petiole 2–5 cm long, broadly winged and deeply grooved, rachis 2–18 cm long; petiolules up to 1.5(–2) cm long; leaflets opposite or nearly so, oblong-ovate to narrowly oblong-elliptical, (4–)8–28(–32) cm × 2–9(–10.5) cm, cuneate or sometimes rounded and slightly asymmetrical at base, usually acuminate at apex, margins entire to wavy, thickly papery or thinly leathery, nearly glabrous, pinnately veined with 10–22 pairs of lateral veins, smallest veins finely reticulate and markedly raised on the lower surface. Inflorescence an axillary panicle up to 7 cm long, densely hairy. Flowers unisexual, male and female flowers very similar in appearance, regular, 4–5-merous, pale yellow, fragrant; pedicel 1–3 mm long; calyx cup-shaped, 1–2 mm long, with short lobes; petals free, narrowly elliptical, 4–7(–9) mm × 3–4 mm, reflexed; stamens fused into an urn-shaped tube 4.5–6 mm long, with 8–10(–12) included anthers near apex, alternating with rounded lobes; ovary superior, globose to conical, c. 2 mm in diameter, (3–)4(–5)-celled, style 2–3 mm long, thick, stigma disk-shaped; male flowers with rudimentary ovary, female flowers with smaller, non-dehiscing anthers. Fruit a nearly globose capsule 3–5.5 cm in diameter, yellowish to orange-red, densely short-hairy, dehiscent by 3–5 valves, (2–)3–5-seeded. Seeds kidney-shaped to rounded-triangular, 2–4 cm × 1.5–2 cm, with fleshy orange seed coat. Seedling with hypogeal germination, cotyledons remaining enclosed in the seedcoat; epicotyl 8–12 cm long; first 2 leaves opposite, usually 3-foliolate.
Other botanical information
Guarea comprises about 8 species in tropical Africa and about 35 in tropical America. It belongs to subfamily Melioideae tribe Guareeae and seems most closely related to Turraeanthus, which differs in its petals that are fused with the staminal tube.
Guarea mayombensis Pellegr. (synonym: Leplaea mayombensis (Pellegr.) Staner) from Cameroon. Gabon, Congo, DR Congo and eastern Uganda, is a medium-sized tree up to 25 m tall. It differs from other Guarea spp. in its large, indehiscent or tardily dehiscent fruit, often only breaking up after falling. It resembles Guarea cedrata in its leaves, but has larger flowers. Its wood is similar and undoubtedly used for the same purposes. Guarea mayombensis is included in the IUCN Red list as a vulnerable species because of habitat loss and degradation, selective felling, and poor regeneration due to the absence of seed dispersal agents.
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; 24: intervessel pits minute ( 4 μm); 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; 47: 5–20 vessels per square millimetre; 58: gums and other deposits in heartwood vessels. Tracheids and fibres: 61: fibres with simple to minutely bordered pits; 65: septate fibres present; (66: non-septate fibres present); 69: fibres thin- to thick-walled; (70: fibres very thick-walled). Axial parenchyma: (80: axial parenchyma aliform); (82: axial parenchyma winged-aliform); 83: axial parenchyma confluent; (85: axial parenchyma bands more than three cells wide); (86: axial parenchyma in narrow bands or lines up to three cells wide); 92: four (3–4) cells per parenchyma strand; 93: eight (5–8) cells per parenchyma strand. Rays: 97: ray width 1–3 cells; 106: body ray cells procumbent with one row of upright and/or square marginal cells; 115: 4–12 rays per mm. Mineral inclusions: (136: prismatic crystals present); (137: prismatic crystals in upright and/or square ray cells); (142: prismatic crystals in chambered axial parenchyma cells); 159: silica bodies present; 160: silica bodies in ray cells.
(E. Ebanyenle, A.A. Oteng-Amoako & P. Baas)
Growth and development
Initial growth of seedlings is slow, less than 30 cm after 1 year. Seedlings showed best growth at 10% of full sunlight. If they are exposed to more sunlight after 1 year, growth may speed up, reaching annual growth rates of up to 1 m in height in plots managed by the tropical shelterwood system. In Guinea trees planted in the understorey showed a mortality of about 50% and reached a mean height of 2.5–3.0 m at 6 years of age, for those planted in forest paths the mortality was 25–30% but the height only 1.2 m, and all seedlings planted in full sun died within 2 years. It is recommended to start thinning the upper storey of the forest 4 years after planting so that the saplings receive progressively more light. Planted trees in Ghana reached a height of up to 15 m and 19 cm in bole diameter in 14 years. Under natural conditions in Côte d’Ivoire an average annual diameter increment of 2.9 mm was recorded, and in Ghana it was 3.2–5.5 mm. In Nigeria it has been estimated that it takes more than 170 years for Guarea cedrata trees to reach 100 cm in bole diameter.
Flushes of new leaves are strikingly pinkish red. Ripe fruits often develop at the beginning of the dry season. In Côte d’Ivoire trees are recorded as fruiting twice a year, in June–July and in October–December. Birds such as hornbills, monkeys, duikers and porcupines eat the fleshy seedcoat and may disperse the seeds. A study in the Dja reserve in Cameroon showed that hornbills are very important for seed dispersal of Guarea cedrata.
Guarea cedrata occurs in lowland evergreen rainforest, usually primary forest, in regions with more than 1600 mm annual rainfall. In Ghana it is most common in moist semi-deciduous forest and drier localities in the moist evergreen forest zone, especially in undisturbed forest. It attains its highest density in regions with 2000 mm annual rainfall. In Uganda it occurs in lowland rainforest, up to 1100 m altitude. Guarea cedrata is classified as a shade-bearer. Seedlings are most common in the shade, although they are occasionally found in full sunlight. They are often even common in deep shade, where they can survive for a long time. All sizes of seedlings and saplings are less abundant in forest affected by recent logging, in comparison with undisturbed, not too dense forest. However, for further development, some opening of the forest canopy seems essential. Guarea cedrata prefers well-drained soils and tolerates infertile soils.
Propagation and planting
Guarea cedrata has comparatively large seeds, with a 1000-seed weight of 1–3.5 kg. Fresh seeds have a fairly high water content, about 27%. They have a short viability, but can be stored in sealed containers for at least 2 weeks. It is recommended to add ash to reduce damage by insects. Germination is irregular and often rather slow, taking 20–45(–65) days. Soaking in cold water for 12 hours before sowing has been recommended to speed up germination. Seed beds in the nursery should be shaded. Seedlings are drought sensitive.
In general, larger trees of Guarea cedrata occur in low densities in the forest. In Liberia densities of less than 1 to 16 boles of over 60 cm in diameter per km² have been recorded. For some regions in Côte d’Ivoire 1 exploitable tree per 12–16 ha has been recorded, and the average wood volume for forest in Côte d’Ivoire has been estimated at 0.3 m³/ha. In southern Cameroon the average density of boles of Guarea spp. over 60 cm in diameter is 0.03–0.14 per ha, with a wood volume of 0.16–1.22 m³/ha. In the Central African Republic the average wood volume has been recorded at 0.26–0.34 m³/ha. In Gabon Guarea cedrata is rare; the average wood volume of Guarea trees has been estimated at 0.13 m³/ha. In Congo wood volumes of up to 0.30 m³/ha have been reported. In Uganda larger trees of Guarea cedrata are uncommon; in many regions they have even become very rare. Guarea cedrata is rarely planted, but several village nurseries in western Cameroon offer seedlings.
Diseases and pests
In Ghana it has been reported that fruits are commonly infested by Menemachus beetles.
The minimum bole diameter for harvesting of Guarea cedrata is 60 cm in Côte d’Ivoire and DR Congo, 70 cm in the Central African Republic, and 80 cm in Cameroon and Liberia.
A tree with a bole diameter of 60 cm yields on average 4.1 m³ of timber, and a tree with 100 cm diameter 11.6 m³.
Handling after harvest
Freshly harvested boles often float in water and can be transported by river.
Genetic resources
Guarea cedrata is quite widespread, but occurs usually in low densities and is usually restricted to undisturbed forest. It is included in the IUCN Red list as a vulnerable species because of habitat loss and degradation, and selective felling. In general, the levels of exploitation are moderate, but Guarea cedrata sometimes suffers from its similarity to other commercial species such as Entandrophragma angolense (Welw.) C.DC.
More research is needed on appropriate management systems in natural forest to ensure a sustainable exploitation of Guarea cedrata. However, its rather slow growth and poor regeneration in logged-over forest are serious drawbacks for larger-scale commercial exploitation, necessitating long rotation cycles. The establishment of plantations seems unprofitable, although some planted Guarea cedrata trees showed fair growth rates, indicating potential for selection and breeding.
Major references
• 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., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• CTFT (Centre Technique Forestier Tropical), 1978. Bossé. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 177: 35–49.
• Katende, A.B., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 1995. Useful trees and shrubs for Uganda: identification, propagation and management for agricultural and pastoral communities. Technical Handbook 10. Regional Soil Conservation Unit, Nairobi, Kenya. 710 pp.
• Phongphaew, P., 2003. The commercial woods of Africa. Linden Publishing, Fresno, California, United States. 206 pp.
• 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.
• Styles, B.T. & White, F., 1991. Meliaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 68 pp.
• Takahashi, A., 1978. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan, 248 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.
• Wilks, C. & Issembé, Y., 2000. Les arbres de la Guinée Equatoriale: Guide pratique d’identification: région continentale. Projet CUREF, Bata, Guinée Equatoriale. 546 pp.
Other references
• ATIBT (Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux), 1986. Tropical timber atlas: Part 1 – Africa. ATIBT, Paris, France. 208 pp.
• Aubréville, A., 1959. La flore forestière de la Côte d’Ivoire. Deuxième édition révisée. Tome deuxième. Publication No 15. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 341 pp.
• CIRAD Forestry Department, 2003. Bosse. [Internet] Tropix 5.0. ame/bosse.pdf. Accessed February 2008.
• CTFT (Centre Technique Forestier Tropical), 1951. Bossé. I – Fiche botanique et forestière. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 20: 251–254.
• CTFT (Centre Technique Forestier Tropical), 1961. Résultats des observations et des essais effectués au Centre Technique Forestier Tropical sur bossé, Guarea cedrata Pellegr., mutigbanaye, Guarea thompsonii Sprague & Hutch. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 7 pp.
• de Koning, J., 1983. La forêt de Banco. Part 2: La Flore. Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 83–1. Wageningen, Netherlands. 921 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.
• de Saint-Aubin, G., 1963. La forêt du Gabon. Publication No 21 du Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 208 pp.
• Farmer, R.H., 1972. Handbook of hardwoods. 2nd Edition. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, United Kingdom. 243 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.
• Istas, J.R., Raekelboom, E.L. & Heremans, R., 1959. Etude de quelques bois congolais. Série technique No 59. Institut National pour l’Etude Agronomique du Congo (INEAC), Brussels, Belgium. 183 pp.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1989. Trees of Nigeria. A revised version of Nigerian trees (1960, 1964) by R.W.J. Keay, C.F.A. Onochie and D.P. Stanfield. Clarendon Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. 476 pp.
• Kyereh, B., Swaine, M.D. & Thompson, J., 1999. Effect of light on the germination of forest trees in Ghana. Journal of Ecology 87: 772–783.
• Menut, C., Lamaty, G., Bessiere, J.M., Seuleiman, A.M., Fendero, P., Maidou, E. & Denamganai, J., 1995. Aromatic plants of tropical central Africa. XXI. Chemical composition of bark essential oil of Guarea cedrata (A. Chev.) Pellegr. from Central African Republic. Journal of Essential Oil Research 7(2): 207–209.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 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.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Tailfer, Y., 1989. La forêt dense d’Afrique centrale. Identification pratique des principaux arbres. Tome 2. CTA, Wageningen, Pays Bas. pp. 465–1271.
• Vivien, J. & Faure, J.J., 1985. Arbres des forêts denses d’Afrique Centrale. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 565 pp.
Sources of illustration
• 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.
• Wilks, C. & Issembé, Y., 2000. Les arbres de la Guinée Equatoriale: Guide pratique d’identification: région continentale. Projet CUREF, Bata, Guinée Equatoriale. 546 pp.
R.B. Jiofack Tafokou
Ecologic Museum of Cameroon, P.O. Box 8038, Yaoundé, Cameroon

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:
Jiofack Tafokou, R.B., 2008. Guarea cedrata (A.Chev.) Pellegr. 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 twig; 3, infructescence; 4, seed.
Redrawn and adapted by Iskak Syamsudin

base of bole



leaves, fruits and seeds

various parts of the tree
obtained from
W.D. Hawthorne


wood in transverse section

wood in tangential section

wood in radial section