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Cassipourea afzelii (Oliv.) Alston

Protologue
Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1925: 265 (1925).
Family
Rhizophoraceae
Vernacular names
Elephant tusk tree (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cassipourea afzelii is distributed from Guinea to Ghana and from Nigeria to Cameroon.
Uses
The stems of Cassipourea afzelii are used in Liberia for hut-poles, pickets, stockades and traps for animals. In Sierra Leone the bark has unspecified medicinal use.
Properties
The stems of Cassipourea afzelii are strong, tough and durable.
Botany
Slender-branched shrub or small tree up to 15 m tall. Leaves opposite, simple, glabrous; stipules between the petioles; petiole 4–7 mm long; blade broadly oblong to elliptical, 7–14 cm × 3–6 cm, base rounded or cuneate, apex acuminate, margin toothed to entire, glaucous, pale. Inflorescence an axillary fascicle, 1–3-flowered, lax. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 1–3 mm long; calyx cup-shaped, 3–4 mm long, with ovate-lanceolate lobes, glabrous outside, appressed hairy inside; petals deeply fringed, white; stamens 10; ovary superior, 3-celled. Fruit an indehiscent capsule, green, few-seeded. Seeds c. 2 mm × 2 mm, with aril, testa leathery.
Cassipourea comprises about 70 species, widely distributed in the tropics. Some other species are used for various purposes in West Africa. Cassipourea firestoneana Hutch. & Dalziel ex G.P.Cooper & Record is a tree up to 28 m tall and endemic to Liberia. Its wood is used for planks, hut-poles and canoe paddles; it is brownish yellow, hard, heavy, strong, flexible and durable. Cassipourea nialatou Aubrév. & Pellegr. occurs in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. It is a tree up to 30 m tall and easily recognized by the characteristically coiled stem base. Its wood is considered suitable for construction and interior joinery, but the high shrinkage rates and the unfavourable drying properties limit its usefulness.
Ecology
Cassipourea afzelii occurs in wet evergreen forest, gallery forest, and secondary forest. It occurs especially in regions with an annual rainfall of over 2500 mm. It tolerates shade and is usually found in the forest understorey close to water. Cassipourea afzelii often occurs on sandy and sandy-loamy soils.
Genetic resources and breeding
Cassipourea afzelii is considered rare.
Prospects
Cassipourea afzelii will remain a local source of timber in Liberia. It is too uncommon to be exploited in larger amounts and is probably in need of protection.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• 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., Kouamé, F.N’. & Hawthorne, W.D. (Editors). Biodiversity of West African forests. An ecological atlas of woody plant species. CAB International, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 101–389.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1954. Rhizophoraceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 281–286.
Other references
• Dudek, S., Förster, B. & Klissenbauer, K., 1981. Lesser known Liberian timber species. Description of physical and mechanical properties, natural durability, treatability, workability and suggested uses. GTZ, Eschborn, Germany. 168 pp.
• Liben, L., 1987. Rhizophoraceae. In: Bamps, P. (Editor). Flore d’Afrique centrale. Spermatophytes. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. 36 pp.
• Oliver, D., 1871. Rhizophoraceae. In: Oliver, D. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 2. L. Reeve & Co, London, United Kingdom. pp. 406–413.
Author(s)
M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
D. Louppe
CIRAD, Département Environnements et Sociétés, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bât. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
J.R. Cobbinah
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana

Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2006. Cassipourea afzelii (Oliv.) Alston. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.