Central and tropical West Africa, especially in dense equatorial rain forest regions.
Although the sapwood of padauk tends to be a very uniform cream or pale beige color, the heartwood is prized for its rich reddish orange tone which over time seasons nicely to a dark reddish- or purple-brown color, or even black. Padauk has a moderately coarse texture, with large pores and a grain that can be straight or interlocked.
Harder and more stable than northern red oak, padauk is heavy and strong and has an average to high durability. It has excellent weathering qualities and is highly resistant to decay.
As a flooring option, padauk is one of the harder wood species. It is over one third harder than red oak, is just over eighteen percent harder than hard maple, about five percent harder than wenge, and approaches seventy-eight percent of santos mahogany's ranking of 2200.
Padauk saws well, but because of its hardness and density it requires a slow saw rate. For best results, carbide tools are recommended. Although it machines easily, there may be some tearing of the interlocked grain. It sands satisfactorily and has good holding ability. Padauk can be finished to an eyecatching sheen without the need for staining. The wood has a tendency to bleed when finished with stains, but it has been found that water-based finishes may hold color better than other types when applied to padauk.
This exceptionally vivid and striking wood species is most often used for decorative purposes, as in wood flooring and veneers, inlay, boad building, fine joinery, fancy turnery, tool and knife handles, and carvings.