Bubinga is wood derived from trees in the genus Guibourtia (named after the French pharmacologist Nicholas Jean Baptist Gaston Guibourt, who lived from 1790-1861).There are 16 known species of Guibourtia with 13 occurring in Africa and three in South America. Two species are commonly sold as bubinga (Guibourtia tessmannii and Guibourtia demeusei). Other trade names for wood from this genus are essingang, ovang, kevazingo and waika. Some species of Guibourtia also produce Congo copal.
Bubinga occurs sporadically through the jungles of Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Gabon and the Congo. It occurs in swampy and inundated forests and near lakes and rivers. The tree can reach a height of 130 to 150 feet with straight boles up to 70 feet tall before the first limb.The trunks are very often fluted or buttressed at the base, much like the tupelo gums and cypress of the United States.The seeds are distributed by animals.
The trees are considered rare in the forests in which they occur. Of the 48,500,000 cubic feet of lumber exported from Cameroon in 1997, bubinga only made up 0.8 percent of the total with aous and sapele leading the way with 30 percent and 10 percent of the total, respectively.
Uses and Species Management
The species enjoys wide use in equatorial Africa as a medicinal plant with the local population making use of the bark and leaves for various medicinal and cultural purposes. Very little information is available in literature about the natural history of the species, and management techniques are not well understood. This fact enhances the potential for rapid depletion of bubinga from the equatorial African forests.