Prota 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins
Bot. Jahrb. 23: 451 (1897).
2n = 22
Origin and geographic distribution
Bertiera spicata occurs from Senegal to western C๔te dIvoire.
The bark of Bertiera spicata yields a yellow dye, which is used in West Africa to dye cotton.
Shrub up to 5 m tall; twigs clothed with long spreading hairs. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules triangular, c. 3 cm long, caducous; petiole up to 1.5 cm long; blade ovate-oblong, 1525 cm ื 47 cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex acuminate, hairy below, especially on the 1012 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a lax false spike up to 20 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, almost sessile, c. 1 cm long, white, yellow-green or pinkish; calyx tubular with small triangular lobes, pubescent; corolla tubular with ovate lobes, hairy inside; stamens inserted at corolla throat, almost sessile; ovary inferior, 2-celled, style filiform-clavate, with 2 compressed oblong branches. Fruit a soft and juicy, globose berry c. 5 mm in diameter, marked with shallow longitudinal furrows when young, brown, many-seeded.
Bertiera comprises 4050 species, with about 30 in tropical Africa, 5 in the Indian Ocean islands and 5 in tropical America. It belongs to the tribe Gardenieae. Bertiera spicata belongs to subgenus Bertiera.
Bertiera spicata occurs in the understorey of swamp, gallery and mangrove forests, often near the coast, sometimes also in secondary vegetation and along roadsides.
Genetic resources and breeding
Bertiera spicata is rather widespread in a range of habitats, and does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion.
At the best Bertiera spicata will remain a source of yellow dye of minor local importance.
Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families MR. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
Hepper, F.N. & Keay, R.W.J., 1963. Rubiaceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 104223.
Holmgren, M., Poorter, L., Siepel, A., Bongers, F., Buitelaar, M., Chatelain, C., Gautier, L., Hawthorne, W.D., Helmink, A.T.F., Jongkind, C.C.H., Os-Breijer, H.J., Wieringa, J.J. & van Zoest, A.R., 2004. Ecological profiles of rare and endemic species. In: Poorter, L., Bongers, F., Kouam้, F.N. & Hawthorne, W.D. (Editors). Biodiversity of West African forests. An ecological atlas of woody plant species. CAB International, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 101389.
Robbrecht, E., Rohrhofer, U. & Puff, C., 1993. A survey of Bertiera (Rubiaceae), including a discussion of its taxonomic position. In: Robbrecht, E. (Editor). Advances in Rubiaceae macrosystematics. Opera Botanica Belgica 6. pp. 101141.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2005. Bertiera spicata (Gaertn.f.) K.Schum. In: Jansen, P.C.M. & Cardon, D. (Editors). PROTA 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.