Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Ann. Sci. Nat., Bot., sér. 4, 14: 378 (1860).
Mimosaceae (Leguminosae - Mimosoideae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Albizia boivinii is endemic to Madagascar, where it is widespread in the western and central parts of the island.
The wood is used for dugout canoes. It is suitable for peeled veneer and plywood corestock. It is also used as firewood and for charcoal production.
Production and international trade
The wood of Albizia boivinii has been exported from north-western Madagascar as rotary-cut veneer. It is traded in small quantities only and mixed with wood of other Albizia spp.
The wood is whitish to slightly pinkish. The density is about 500 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. The wood dries rapidly. The shrinkage rates are low, from green to oven dry 2.7% radial and 5.2% tangential. The wood is soft and easy to work. The durability of the wood is low, it is liable to fungal attack and susceptible to termites and Lyctus borers.
Seed extracts are toxic to mice, and showed haemolytic activity in red blood cells of sheep as well as antibacterial activity against several pathogenic bacteria. Pod extracts showed toxicity against crab brood and inhibit germination of rice and bean seeds.
Small to medium-sized deciduous tree up to 20(–35) m tall; bole up to 40(–130) cm in diameter; bark pale grey to purplish, cracking into thin plates; young branches pubescent, glabrescent. Leaves alternate, bipinnately compound with (1–)2–3(–4) pairs of pinnae; stipules minute, caducous; petiole 1.5–7.5 cm long, in the basal half of upper side with a sessile gland, rachis (1–)2–11.5 cm long, glabrous to pubescent; leaflets in (2–)3–8(–9) pairs per pinna, with petiolules 1.5–3 mm long, slightly obliquely elliptical to elliptical-obovate, up to 4 cm × 2.5 cm, rounded to obtuse at apex, leathery, slightly pubescent to glabrous. Inflorescence an axillary head on 3–8 cm long peduncle. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, greenish white, sessile; calyx narrowly obconical, c. 2 mm long, pubescent; corolla 4–5 mm long, with 2.5–3 mm long tube, pubescent; stamens numerous, 9–12.5 mm long, united into a tube at base, white; ovary superior, ellipsoid, shortly stipitate, glabrous, gradually tapering into a c. 11 mm long style. Fruit an oblong to oblong-elliptical flat pod 10–29 cm × 2–5 cm, with short stipe, thick-papery, glabrous, with fine transverse veins, several-seeded. Seeds narrowly oblong to narrowly obovoid, 12–13 mm × 5–6 mm, black.
Albizia boivinii flowers from July to January.
Albizia comprises about 120 species and occurs throughout the tropics. In continental Africa approximately 35 species are found and about 30 in Madagascar. It is characterized by the head-like inflorescence, with 1–2 central flowers modified, functionally male and having a larger, nectar-producing staminal tube. Molecular analyses showed that Albizia is heterogeneous, and a revision of the genus is needed.
Albizia aurisparsa (Drake) R.Vig. is a small tree up to 15 m tall, occurring mainly on sandy soils in western Madagascar. It resembles Albizia boivinii, but it is distinguished by the golden-yellow pubescence on young leaves, flowers and pods. The durable wood of Albizia aurisparsa is used, e.g. for coffins. Albizia greveana (Baill.) R.Baron resembles Albizia boivinii in having few pinnae with few, large leaflets per leaf, but differs in its distinctly pedicellate flowers. It occurs in western Madagascar on a wide range of soil types. Its wood is used for dugout canoes. Albizia odorata R.Vig. is a medium-sized tree up to 20 (–30) m tall, occurring in western Madagascar, scattered on calcareous soils; its leaves resemble those of Albizia greveana, but can be distinguished by being completely glabrous and having distinctly acuminate leaflets. Its wood is occasionally used for furniture. Albizia tulearensis R.Vig. is another species with few and comparatively large leaflets, but is characterized by the greyish white pubescence on young shoots, leaves and flowers. It is a common tree in southern Madagascar, up to 15(–20) m tall, with a bole diameter up to 70 cm. Its good-quality wood is used for construction, beams, planks and coffins.
Albizia boivinii occurs in deciduous woodland up to 1800 m altitude, mostly on sandy soils.
Genetic resources and breeding
Albizia boivinii is common over a large area and not threatened by genetic erosion.
Little is known about the wood properties of Albizia boivinii, but the wood is reportedly suitable for veneer production. This may offer possibilities for commercial exploitation as a timber tree, but research is needed on ecology, growth rates and regeneration to evaluate methods of sustainable production.
• Capuron, R., 1970. Le genre Albizia Durazz. (Légumineuses - Mimosoidées). Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Antananarivo, Madagascar. 145 pp.
• du Puy, D.J., Labat, J.N., Rabevohitra, R., Villiers, J.-F., Bosser, J. & Moat, J., 2002. The Leguminosae of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 750 pp.
• Raherinirina, C.E., 1999. Contribution à l’étude chimique et biologique des principes toxiques de Albizia boivini (Mimosoideae, Fabaceae). Mémoire de DEA de chimie organique option appliqué aux sciences médicales. Département Biochimie, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 74 pp.
• Andrianavalona, A.A., 2001. Etude chimique et biologique d’extraits toxiques des fruits de Albizia boivini (Mimosoideae, Fabaceae). Mémoire de DEA de chimie organique option appliqué aux sciences médicales. Département Biochimie, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 67 pp.
• Guéneau, P., Bedel, J. & Thiel, J., 1970–1975. Bois et essences malgaches. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 150 pp.
• Parant, B., Chichignoud, M. & Rakotovao, G., 1985. Présentation graphique des caractères des principaux bois tropicaux. Tome 5. Bois de Madagascar. CIRAD, Montpellier, France. 161 pp.
• Rabarimanarivo, M., 2000. Albizia. A Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar. [Internet] http://www.efloras.org/ florataxon.aspx?flora_id=12&taxon_id=100949. Accessed January 2007.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2007. Albizia boivinii E.Fourn. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.