The trees in Ghost Forest – most of which fell naturally in adverse weather conditions – come from the Suhuma forest reserve in Western Ghana, a selectively logged concession run by John Bitar and Co, one of the largest timber producers in Ghana. They operate under strict licence from the Ghana Forestry Commission and run a Chain of Custody tracking system.
Cylicodiscus gabunensis (Leguminosae family)
Other Common Names: Edum (Gabon), Adoum, Bokoka (Cameroon), Bouemon (Ivory Coast).
A large tree 180 to 200 ft in height above short buttresses, the Denya is common in rainforests of all types from Sierra Leone to the Cameroons and Gabon. The Denya is often gregarious on red soils, and along ridge-tops. Its heartwood is yellow to golden brown, frequently with a slight greenish tinge which darkens on exposure; the sapwood is pale pink.
The Denya has an extremely large and spreading dark evergreen crown, and short, fat buttresses. It has small, knee-like knobs on the bole. Young trees are armed with prickles. When cut the scent of the wood is strong, like onions or garlic. The tree’s fruit is pod-shaped and massive at up to 3 ft in length.
Denya heartwood is very durable and highly resistant to termite attack. It is resistant to marine borers, has excellent weathering properties and high resistance to wear, making machining and working difficult.
Its uses include heavy duty flooring, ship and boat building, marine piling, bridges, railway sleepers, mining timbers, heavy construction and sea defence pilings.
Triplochiton scleroxylon (Sterculiaceae family)
Other Common Names: Arere, Obeche (Nigeria), Samba (Ivory Coast), Ayous (Cameroon), Abachi (Germany, Holland).
The Wawa with its light-coloured, medium weight wood is widely distributed in tropical West Africa, and is highly exploited by man in this region. It grows in the transition zone between the humid evergreen and semi-deciduous forests. It grows to be a large tree, on average up to about 180 ft tall, but can attain heights of 210 ft; the steep buttresses may reach to 20 ft. The crown of this tree is massive, with star-like leaves visible from a distance. This tree flowers and fruits irregularly, peaking every 2-7 years.
The Wawa has extended successfully out of its natural habitat, spreading predominantly along waterways and on abandoned farms and in logged areas. Its wood is widely used in furniture components, sauna lining, shoe heels, rotary veneer, trim, toys, mouldings, blockboard, particle and fibreboard, plywood, millwork, boxes and crates, pattern-making and artificial limbs.
Nesogogordonia papaverifera/Cistanthera papaverifera (Sterculiaceae family)
Other Common Names: Apru, Ekumadua, Epro, Kotibe; Ovoe Kotibe (Ivory Coast), Otutu (Nigeria), Owoe (Cameroon), Arborbo (Gabon), Kondofindo (Zaire), Naouya (Angola), Abumana, Akumaba, Epro (Ghana).
History of the Name: The name is translated as Da=paired, Nta=double; named after a traditional locally manufactured short gun (Adanta) used by chiefs in the olden days. The wood buttress is the part most used for making the butts of the short gun.
The Danta grows to about 120 ft in height; the trunk can reach diameters of 2.5 to 3.5 ft over short buttresses. It is found from Sierra Leone to Cameroon and northern Gabon, and occupies mixed and dry deciduous forests and transitional forests.
This tree is evergreen or briefly deciduous depending on its location. Its small crown has a flush of pale green in otherwise dark foliage. Flowers are white and very fragrant, the fruit is woody, splitting to release 1cm long winged seeds.
A strong, heavy, attractive redwood, the Danta is fine-grained and hard wearing with medium lustre. It is used for interior and exterior applications such as high quality joinery, cabinet work, bench tops, boat components, turnery and decking, general construction, flooring, tool handles, gunstocks, plywood and furniture. It is also used for making mortars for pounding Fufu, a local Ghanaian dish and sometimes as a substitute for chew sticks.
Other Common Names: Acajou D’Afrique, Caoba Del Galon, Dubene, Dubini, Ngollon, Kumankra
History of the Name: The name is translated as Red Wood: Du or Dua=tree; Bini or Bene=red
Common in Ghana, African Mahogany is one of the most commercially popular, attractive and versatile redwoods from the African rainforest. It is found in various habitat types in west and central Africa but is most abundant in wet undisturbed evergreen forest, and grows from 130 – 160 ft high. The scent when cut is strong and sweet like rose water and also bitter.
Rainforest tribes use mahogany bark to treat colds, the bark can also be used for coughs and whooping cough. When mixed with black peppercorns, used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. A bark decoction is used as a drink or bath for back pains and as a lotion for rheumatism. Some Ghanaians soak the bark in gin, and use the infusion as an aphrodisiac. Oil from its seed can also be used to kill insects.
Its texture is not as refined as American mahogany, but it is a highly valued wood for furniture, staircases, boat building and house panelling and flooring, high quality joinery, furniture, doors, carvings, cabinet making, boat construction, turnery and frames.
Piptadenia africana /Piptadeniastrum africanum ( Leguminosae family)
Other Common Names: Mbeli (Liberia), Dabema (Ivory Coast), Dahoma (Ghana), Agboin, Ekhimi (Nigeria), Atui (Cameroon), Bokungu (Zaire), Mpewere (Uganda), Elae, Koungou, Likundu, M’Beli, N’Singa, Odan, Tom, Toum.
History of the Name: The original indigenous name is translated as Da=sleep; Ho=there; Ma=provides or gives. The name was given by hunters and farmers who used the spaces provided by the huge buttresses as a sleeping place.
Found in tropical West Africa from Senegal to Angola and across the Congo region to Uganda in mixed deciduous and evergreen forests, the Dahoma reaches a height of 150 ft. Its buttresses are sharp near the trunk, then wide-spreading closer to the ground, reaching a distance of up to 15 ft out from the trunk. These buttresses often ‘wander’ sinuously away from the base of the tree. The Dahoma’s crown is spreading with dark, feathery leaves. Its fruits are long pendulous pods over one foot in length, which ripen December to February.
Dahoma heartwood is light to golden brown; sapwood is greyish to pale straw and quite distinct. Dahoma sawdust may irritate skin and mucous membranes. Dahoma wood may also stain if it comes in contact with iron under moist conditions. The tree coppices well.
The Dahoma is a tough timber, mostly for exterior use such as for wagon bodies, structural work, sleepers, mining timbers, marine defence, garden furniture, decking, heavy construction, wharf decking and flooring.
Celtis – 3 varieties
Celtis mildbraedii; Celtis zenkeri; Celtis Adolfi-friderici
Other Common Names: Asan, Ba, Esa, Esa-fufuo (for C. mildbraedii), Esakokoo (for Celtis zenkeri), Esakosua (for Celtis Adolfi-friderici); Esa-pa, Kayombo, Luniumbu, Odou, Ohia, African Celtis
The Celtis is evergreen, but many of its leaves do fall during the dry season. It grows up 100 ft tall and is of abundant forest availability.
Celtis adolfi-friderici has a dark green, rounded crown, whose branches droop at the ends. Fruit when dry look like white shells with a pitted surface.
Celtis mildbraedii has a smaller crown, with thin horizontal branches.
Celtis zenkeri has an attractive, homogeneous, light red-brownish coloured wood of medium strength. It may be used as a substitute for various mahogany types. Its crown is broader than C. mildbraedii.
The Celtis is used for interior joinery, plywood, furniture components, tool handles, mouldings, flooring, stairs, interior trim and veneer. In Europe it is mostly used for coffins.
Guibourtia ehie = Copaifera ehie (Leguminosae family)
Other Common Names: Anokye-Hyedua, Ovangkol, Palissandro, Ehie, Anokye (Ghana), Amazoue, Amazakoue (Ivory Coast). Currently being marketed in the United States as “Mozambique.”
History of the Name: The name is translated as Anokye=name of a person; Hye=gum incense; Dua=tree. The tree was named after a famous and highly respected Ashanti fetish priest Okomfo Anokye, who is said to have burned a scented gum from this particular tree in his shrine as his preferred incense.
The Hyedua is found to grow in Ghana, Southern Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Gabon, preferring closed rainforests and transitional forests and often growing in small groups. The Hyedua may reach a height of up to 150 ft. It has tiny flowers with no petals but 4 white sepals, and produces flat, papery pod-like fruit at the start of the dry season.
Hyedua heartwood is yellow-brown to dark brown with grey to almost black grain; the sapwood is yellow-white. This is a high quality cabinet wood, prized for its beautiful appearance and used for decorative veneer, turnery, trim, high quality joinery, fittings, carvings, fine furniture and cabinetwork.
It also yields a gum copal (resin) used in pharmaceuticals and as a base for varnishes.
‘Photoguide for the Forest Trees of Ghana’ by William Hawthorne and Ntim Gyakari, 2006.
‘Tropical Timbers of the World’ by Martin Chudnoff, 1984. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook
Ghana Forestry Commission Timber Industry Development Division http://www.ghanatimber.org/