Treasure of the month
Scientific name: Milicia excelsa (Welw.) C.C. Berg
Family: Moraceae (which also includes mulberry and fig)
Trade names: iroko, kambala.
Found: throughout Tropical Africa
Dimensions : L = 2,5 m ; W = 0,75m ; H = 0,75 m
Weight : +/ - 900 kg
This piece of tree-trunk is from Lukula (Lower Congo, DRC).
The tree was felled in 1895 and, with three other trunks, was shipped to the port of Antwerp. This was the first shipment of Congolese wood to Belgium.
The square shape of the trunk is remarkable. The trunk was cut square when it was felled, to make maximum use of hold space during shipping.
Leopold II donated the sample for the World Exhibition in 1897 to convince public opinion of the availability of valuable natural resources in the Congo.
The iroko can grow to a height of 50 metres and reach a diameter of two metres. The heartwood feels greasy to the touch and has a varied colour. When freshly sawn the wood is yellow, but it quickly turns dark brown.
Iroko is a beautiful wood, with great durability, and is therefore a good alternative to teak. This wood has all sorts of uses: in construction (crossbeams, roadways, boatbuilding, as building wood for indoors or outdoors …) or in the chemical industry for making vats.
The RMCA's collection of wood includes 56,000 specimens of 13,600 different botanical species from around the world. It is therefore the second largest collection in the world and the largest in Europe: see Tervuren Xylarium