Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Philipp. Journ. Sci. 15(3): 249 (1919).
2n = 48, 112
Carallia madagascariensis (DC.) Tul. (1856).
Corkwood, corkybark, maniawiga (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Carallia brachiata is widespread from Madagascar to tropical Asia and northern Australia. Two collections are known from Réunion.
The wood is suitable for general construction, house building, posts, cabinet work, furniture, parquet flooring, railway sleepers, musical instruments, tool handles, picture frames, veneer, interior finish and panelling, pallets and packing material. Due to its high energy value the wood yields good-quality fuelwood and charcoal. The fruits are eaten. In tropical Asia the leaves and bark are used in local medicine to treat septic poisoning and itch. The tree is sometimes planted as an ornamental, especially a cultivar with a narrow columnar habit and pendulous branches (‘Honiara’), e.g. along roads in the Solomon Islands.
Production and international trade
The trees usually are too scattered and too small to be of great importance for timber. Small amounts of timber are exported from Borneo and Papua New Guinea.
The heartwood is yellowish brown to reddish brown and indistinctly to moderately distinctly demarcated from the paler sapwood. The grain is straight, interlocked or slightly wavy, texture coarse and uneven. The wood shows a conspicuous silver grain figure on radial surfaces.
Carallia brachiata yields a medium-weight hardwood with a density of 710–755 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. The rates of shrinkage upon drying are low, c. 0.8% radial and 3.9% tangential for wood of Australian origin, and the wood seasons well, but end splitting and surface checking should be prevented by protecting the ends from rapid drying; it takes 2 months to air dry 13 mm thick boards and 5 months for 38 mm thick ones.
At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 117.5 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 13,855 N/mm² and compression parallel to grain 55.5 N/mm² for wood of Indian origin.
The wood is strong, easy to saw and plane, and it takes a good finish. Immediately after sawing the wood should be treated with anti-stain chemicals. To obtain the attractive silver grain, boards should be quarter-sawn, which limits their width to about 20 cm. The wood is durable under cover, but durability in contact with the ground or when exposed to the weather is moderate to poor. It is prone to termite and marine borer attack, whereas the absorption of preservatives is moderate (95–130 kg/m³). The sapwood is susceptible to Lyctus attack.
Shrub or small tree up to 15 m tall (sometimes up to 50 m in tropical Asia); bole up to 40(–70) cm in diameter, occasionally with small buttresses; bark surface smooth to finely cracking or shallowly to deeply fissured; branches ascending-erect, slightly thickened at nodes. Leaves decussately opposite, simple; stipules lanceolate, up to 2 cm long, early caducous; petiole up to 1 cm long; blade narrowly obovate to elliptical, 5–10(–15) cm × 2–5(–10) cm, cuneate at base, acute or shortly acuminate at apex, margin revolute, entire or sometimes slightly toothed, leathery, glabrous, with black dots below, with many lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary condensed cyme, distinctly resinous. Flowers bisexual, regular, (4–)5(–8)-merous, small, up to 2.5 mm in diameter, sessile; calyx shortly cup-shaped with triangular, thick lobes; petals free, clawed at base, laciniate at margins; disk annular; stamens twice the number of petals, free; ovary semi-inferior, 5(–8)-celled, style thick, stigma headlike, obscurely lobed. Fruit a globose, fleshy berry up to 7 mm in diameter, pink to red when ripe, several-seeded. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl elongated; cotyledons leafy, green.
Carallia comprises about 10 species, of which Carallia brachiata is the most widespread, covering the whole distribution of the genus. The other species are confined to tropical Asia.
Initial growth is slow and seedlings attain only up to 35 cm in height after 2 years and 2.5 m after 5 years. However, seedlings of columnar ornamental cultivars may reach 60 cm tall in 10 months. Growth is monopodial and trees flower and fruit abundantly in mast fruiting years, but individual trees may flower less profusely in other years as well. The fruits, having a pleasant, sweet-acid flavour, are attractive to birds, which disperse the seeds.
In Madagascar Carallia brachiata occurs in humid evergreen forest from sea-level to 1500 m altitude. In Australia it grows well in open and wet localities, but it can also stand quite dry conditions. In China Carallia brachiata was found to be quite resistant to heavily polluted environments.
Carallia brachiata may be propagated by seed or cuttings. It seems that seed soon loses its viability. In tropical Asia seed had 45% to almost 100% germination in 1–3.5 months. Seedlings may be kept in the nursery for 2 years before being planted out in the field. Young plants are sensitive to drought and tolerate shade; planting in open sites is difficult. Trees coppice well and reproduce freely from root suckers. In India techniques for rapid multiplication of Carallia brachiata by terminal branch cuttings have been developed; they include treatments with a fungicide and growth hormones.
Genetic resources and breeding
Carallia brachiata is widely distributed but nowhere common.
The supply of wood is small due to the scattered occurrence of the trees and their often small size. However, more research on the silvicultural aspects seems worthwhile as the wood is of good quality and utilitarian value. Ornamental cultivars are particularly suited to planting along roads and close to buildings, and deserve more attention. It may be useful for restoration of degraded localities because of its tolerance to pollution.
• Arènes, J., 1954. Rhizophoracées (Rhizophoraceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), familles 147–151. Firmin-Didot et cie., Paris, France. 42 pp.
• Ding Hou, 1998. Carallia Roxb. In: Sosef, M.S.M., Hong, L.T. & Prawirohatmodjo, S. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 5(3). Timber trees: Lesser-known timbers. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 134–137.
• Schatz, G.E., 2001. Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 477 pp.
• Kwan, W.Y. & Whitmore, T.C., 1994. Carallia brachiata cv. Honiara, a beautiful fastigiate ornamental tree. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore 46(2): 93–98.
• Vijaya, K.R., Murthy, A.R.S. & Srivasuki, K.P., 1993. Rapid multiplication of Carallia brachiata (Lour.) Merr. by terminal branch cuttings. Indian Forester 119(5): 367–370.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2005. Carallia brachiata (Lour.) Merr. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
obtained from Carlton McLendon, Inc.
wood in transverse section
wood in tangential section
transverse surface of wood