Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Oliv., Fl. trop. Afr. 1: 241 (1868).
Tiliaceae (APG: Malvaceae)
Berrya africana (Mast.) Kosterm. (1969).
Ecalago (Po). Mwanga maima, mlanga, mkikoma, mkongoro (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
In tropical Africa Carpodiptera africana is distributed in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and perhaps Comoros. It also occurs in South Africa.
The wood of Carpodiptera africana is used in construction and for poles, bows, tool handles and spoons. It is also used as firewood. In times of food scarcity in Tanzania the tender leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable, alone or mixed with other vegetables. The bark yields fibre. In Tanzania an infusion of the roots and stem bark is drunk to treat eye problems and used as a face and eye wash. A root decoction is taken as an aphrodisiac.
The wood of Carpodiptera africana bends easily.
Dioecious or rarely monoecious shrub or small tree up to 13.5(–20) m tall; bark grey-brown, smooth or slightly rough; branchlets sparsely stellate-pubescent, soon glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules filiform, up to 8 mm long, soon deciduous; petiole up to 6 cm long, stellate-pubescent; blade ovate to oblong, up to 20 cm × 15 cm, base rounded to cordate or rarely cuneate, apex acute to obtuse, margin entire or repand, stellate-pubescent when young but soon becoming glabrous, 3–5-veined from the base. Inflorescence an axillary compound cyme, many-flowered ; peduncle 2.5–7 cm long, stellate-pubescent, branches up to 2.5 cm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, slightly scented ; pedicel 0.5–1.5 mm long; calyx campanulate, divided for c. three-quarters of its length into 2–3 lobes, lobes broadly triangular and 3–4 mm long with acute or acuminate apex, densely stellate-pubescent; petals 5, obovate, 5–6 mm long, narrowed to the base, white or pink; male flowers with numerous stamens c. 4 mm long, filaments joined at base; female flowers with numerous short sterile stamens 2–3 mm long and superior, 2-lobed ovary, style short, stigma large and spreading. Fruit an ellipsoid capsule up to 1.5 cm long, 2-lobed, each lobe with 2 wings 2–5 cm × 1–2 cm, turning reddish or purplish brown with age, eventually breaking up, each lobe 1-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid, 5–8 mm × 4–5 mm, brown, very finely wrinkled, more or less hairy near apex.
Carpodiptera comprises about 5 species, all except Carpodiptera africana occurring in tropical America. The genus is closely related to Berrya and has even been included in the latter genus, which differs in its 3–4-lobed ovary and long style.
In Kenya Carpodiptera africana flowers from December to July.
Carpodiptera africana grows up to 550(–900) m altitude in dry evergreen mixed forest, forest margins, bushland and wooded grassland. It may form pure stands after burning.
Carpodiptera africana is logged from wild stands in Tanzania, and not planted or locally protected. It coppices well. In Tanzania the leaves are collected during the rainy season.
Genetic resources and breeding
It is unknown whether Carpodiptera africana is affected by genetic erosion. Its distribution area is rather limited, but in Tanzania it is common in its habitat.
Very little is known about the properties and management of Carpodiptera africana, and it is therefore impossible to make a valid assessment of its prospects.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2006. Carpodiptera africana Mast. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.