Despite the importance of the African tropical rainforests as a hotspot of biodiversity, their history and the processes that have structured their biodiversity are understood poorly. With respect to past demographic processes, new insights can be gained through characterizing the distribution of genetic diversity. However, few studies of this type have been conducted in Central Africa, where the identification of species in the field can be difficult. We examine here the distribution of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) diversity in Lower Guinea in two tree species that are difficult to distinguish, Erythrophleum ivorense and Erythrophleum suaveolens (Fabaceae). By using a blind-sampling approach and comparing molecular and morphological markers, we first identified retrospectively all sampled individuals and determined the limits of the distribution of each species. We then performed a phylogeographic study using the same genetic data set. The two species displayed essentially parapatric distributions that were correlated well with the rainfall gradient, which indicated different ecological requirements. In addition, a phylogeographic structure was found for E. suaveolens and, for both species, substantially higher levels of diversity and allelic endemism were observed in the south (Gabon) than in the north (Cameroon) of the Lower Guinea region. This finding indicated different histories of population demographics for the two species, which might reflect different responses to Quaternary climate changes. We suggest that a recent period of forest perturbation, which might have been caused by humans, favoured the spread of these two species and that their poor recruitment at present results from natural succession in their forest formations.