Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 9: 606 (1926).
Tiliaceae (APG: Malvaceae)
2n = 40
Berrya ammonilla Roxb. (1820).
Trincomalee wood, halmilla wood (En). Faux teck, teck du pays (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Berrya cordifolia occurs naturally in tropical Asia. It has been introduced into tropical Africa (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Tanzania, Réunion, Mauritius), Australia, Hawaii and Fiji.
The wood of Berrya cordifolia yields a valuable timber used for high quality furniture, but suitable for a wide range of uses, including light and heavy construction, flooring, mine props, boat building, vehicle bodies, cartwheels, tool handles, ladders, sporting goods, agricultural implements, boxes and other packing materials, sleepers and beams, poles, carving, turnery, draining boards, cooperage, oars and paddles, panelling, and paper making. Uses are mainly recorded for India, but in tropical Africa the wood could be used similarly.
The bark yields a fibre of low quality. In West Africa Berrya cordifolia has been planted in windbreaks and shelter belts. It is also planted as an ornamental, e.g. on Mauritius.
Production and international trade
In India and Myanmar the wood of Berrya cordifolia is commercially traded. In the 1970s annual exports from Myanmar amounted to about 500 t, which corresponds to approximately 600 m³.
The heartwood of Berrya cordifolia is dark red-brown, often with darker streaks. It is distinctly demarcated from the whitish to pale brown sapwood. The grain is straight or shallowly interlocked, texture fine to medium. The wood surface is rather dull, with a slightly oily feel. Freshly sawn wood has a pungent odour.
The wood is very resilient and tough, with good wearing and weathering characteristics. It has a density of 960 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. At 12% moisture content the modulus of rupture is 92.5–117 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 13,105–14,425 N/mm² and compression parallel to grain 44–55 N/mm². The wood seasons slowly with no risk of serious splitting, but surface checks may develop. Drying wood stacks must be weighted down and ventilation must be provided.
The wood is difficult to saw, but it works well with other tools and has good bending properties. It finishes and polishes well and splits cleanly, but is difficult to glue.
The heartwood is durable and extremely resistant to impregnation. The sapwood is susceptible to Lyctus attack.
The seeds of Berrya cordifolia contain 11% oil; they have stiff hairs which may penetrate the skin and cause painful itching. An ethanol extract of the seeds proved highly toxic to the European maize borer (Ostrinia nubilalis). A hot water extract of the leaves has shown antifungal activity against Pythium aphanidermatum, whereas a cold water extract had no activity.
Small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–30) m tall; bole branchless for up to 11 m, up to 200 cm in diameter, often fluted but fairly straight; bark greyish brown, smooth; crown much-branched; branchlets glabrescent. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules subulate, 4–7 mm long, caducous; petiole up to 7 cm long, slender, sparsely stellate-pubescent near apex, glabrescent; blade broadly ovate to broadly elliptical, 7–24 cm × 5–16 cm, base cordate, apex shortly acuminate, margin entire to wavy-toothed, glabrous above, with tufts of hairs in vein axils below, 5–7-veined from the base. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary panicle, usually many-flowered; bracts narrowly ovate, up to 8 mm long. Flowers bisexual, regular; pedicel slender, 10–12 mm long, stellate-hairy; calyx campanulate, 4–5.5 mm long, irregularly 3– 4-lobed, lobes up to 2 mm long, acute to obtuse; petals 5, obovate, up to 8 mm × 3.5 mm, pinkish white or white, glabrous; stamens many, up to 5 mm long; ovary superior, 3(–4)-celled, style slender. Fruit a 6(–8)-winged capsule, surrounded at the base by persistent flower parts, stellate-hairy, wings up to 2.5 cm × 1.3 cm, several-seeded. Seeds up to 4.5 mm long, angular, with caducous bristles.
Berrya comprises 4 species distributed in tropical Asia. Berrya mollis Wall. ex Kurz has been planted in Tanzania. It resembles Berrya cordifolia, but has pubescent leaves.
While seedling growth is slow, later on Berrya cordifolia grows fairly fast with an average annual bole diameter increase of 1 cm for at least the first 30 years.
Berrya cordifolia requires partial shade especially in the seedling stage; solitary trees in full sun grow poorly. It does not grow well on clayey soils; it tolerates poor drainage, but is not resistant to drought. In Thailand fire was found to favour germination of the seeds in the soil.
Berrya cordifolia can be propagated by seed. The 1000-seed weight is about 19 g. About 30% of the seeds germinate in 14–33 days, but a germination percentage of 20% has also been recorded. In India and Sri Lanka seedlings 8–10 months old are used as bare-rooted planting stock. Stumps prepared from 1.5–2-year-old stock with a diameter of 2 cm can also be used; the shoot is trimmed to 3–4 cm and the roots to 20 cm. Planting of stumps resulted in 70–75% survival. Berrya cordifolia coppices well and produces root suckers.
Genetic resources and breeding
Because of the wide geographic distribution of Berrya cordifolia there is little risk of genetic erosion.
The fairly fast growth of Berrya cordifolia and the high quality of its timber make it worthwhile to intensify silvicultural research on this species in tropical Africa.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2006. Berrya cordifolia (Willd.) Burret. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.