Lophira alata - Banks ex C.F.Gaertn.
Common Name Niam Tree
Family Ochnaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Evergreen moist rain-forest at elevations of 550 - 1,300 metres[328 ]. Evergreen and moist deciduous forests, in freshwater swamp forests, and close to riverbanks[316 ].
Range Australia - New South Wales, Queensland.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Full sun

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Found in Western tropical Africa, Niam Tree or Lophira alata is an extremely large tree growing usually about 40-60 m tall. It has a long, narrow crown and long, straight trunk that can be unbranched for up to 30 m and up to 180 cm in diameter. It has large buttresses at the base. It is one of the most over exploited species due to its strong, heavy, and highly durable timber. It also yields high quality edible oil. The oil is used as a hair oil and for soap-making.

Lophira alata Niam Tree

Lophira alata Niam Tree
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Lophira alata is an evergreen Tree growing to 40 m (131ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Lophira africana Banks ex G.Don Lophira barteri Tiegh. Lophira macrophylla Tiegh. Lophira procera A.

Edible Uses
The fruits can be used to make an edible oil[402 ].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses
Agroforestry Uses: The plant is a pioneer species and is representative of a disturbed forest[402 ]. Other Uses An oil obtained from the seed is used as a hair oil and is also suitable for making soap[46 ]. 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[316 , 338 , 848 ]. Because the wood is rich in silica, and is resistant to marine borers, it isd favoured for use in jetties[338 ].
Cultivation details
Grows best in a sunny position[299 ].Plants are sensitive to drought[402 ]. It is estimated that is takes 220 years for a tree to reach a girth of 2.7 metres in Nigeria[402 ]. Light gaps in the forest are necessary for successful regeneration, as seed germination does not occur in shady understorey[402 ].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe since the seed has a short viability[299 ]. Even sown fresh, germination rates are usually less than 50%, dropping to 5% after 3 months[299 ]. Germination takes 3 - 5 weeks[299 ]. 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[299 ]. 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[299 ]. Stem cuttings are also possible[299 ].
Other Names
Niam Tree, Akoga, Akufo, Azobe, Bongossi, Bonkole, Ega, Ekki, False Shea, Hos, Kaku, Kofyo, Lekwa, Ngokele, Okoa, Okoka,
Found In
Cameroon; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Ghana; Liberia; Nigeria; Sierra Leone, Africa, Benin, Cameroon, Central Africa, CAR, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, Equatorial-Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinée, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, West Africa,
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Vulnerable A1cd
Related Plants


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Expert comment
Banks ex C.F.Gaertn.
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
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Subject : Lophira alata  

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