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Cedrelopsis grevei Baill.

Grandid., Hist. phys. Madagascar 34(4), atlas 2, tab. 257 (1893).
Vernacular names
White palissander (En). Katrafay, acajou blanc de Madagascar (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cedrelopsis grevei is endemic to western and southern Madagascar.
The wood is locally used for heavy construction, carving, cabinet work, tool handles, interior joinery, interior trim, heavy parquet flooring, sliced veneer, plywood, ship and boat building, railway sleepers, vehicle bodies, electricity and construction poles and cattle enclosures. Because of its hardness and resistance to fungal and insect attack, the wood is considered imperishable and it is traditionally used for making royal Sakalava tombs. The wood is also used as fuelwood and for making charcoal.
In Madagascar Cedrelopsis grevei is one of the most important forest trees known for its medicinal uses. An essential oil from the bark is commonly used in massaging to treat general body pain, toothache, broken bones, muscular pain, arthritis and rheumatism, and a massage of the back is given to treat tiredness and fever. It is also used in baths for these purposes. Its tonic effects as well as its aphrodisiac effects are well appreciated, as it is considered to improve physical and mental fitness. A stem bark extract is traditionally taken against cough, asthma, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diabetes, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, rheumatism, intestinal worms, headache, tiredness and as a post-partum tonic. It is also used as a vaginal shower after childbirth for its tonic effects, and is externally applied to wounds and skin infections. Sometimes a root bark decoction is taken to treat diarrhoea or asthma. A vapour bath of the leaves is taken to treat weakness of the blood vessels, headache and a sore throat. The seeds are chewed as an anthelmintic and to treat stomach-ache.
The bitter and aromatic stem bark is used to aromatise local rum, and is also an ingredient of bitter, non-alcoholic drinks.
Production and international trade
In Madagascar and on Internet the essential oil from the bark is commonly traded at US$ 8–17 per 10 ml; ‘floral water’ is traded for about US$ 15 per 250 ml. The main clients are the foreign and local pharmaceutical industry. The wood of Cedrelopsis grevei comprises 15–20% of the volume of timber harvested from forests in Madagascar, and is classified as the 4th most important wood, equal to Dalbergia spp. It is called ‘white pallisander’ on the local market. Some half-finished products are exported to Réunion.
The heartwood is pale yellow to pale brown, somewhat mottled and slightly darker than the 2.5 cm wide whitish sapwood. The grain is usually straight, texture fine. The wood is scented and contains resin cells.
The wood is very heavy, with a density of 900–1110 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It air dries slowly but well if well stacked; end-splitting sometimes occurs. Boards 25 mm thick take 3–4 months to air dry, boards 40 mm thick 10–11 months. Shrinkage rates are moderate: from green to oven-dry 3.6–5.6% radial and 5.3–8.8% tangential. Once dry, the wood is stable in service.
The wood is flexible and very hard. At 10% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 122–255 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 12, 400–17,500 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 64–88 N/mm², shear 12 N/mm², Janka side hardness 10,280 N and Janka end hardness 10,280 N.
The wood works fairly well with hand and machine tools, but it has a marked blunting effect and stellite-tipped sawteeth are needed. Splitting on nailing and screwing is common, and pre-boring is recommended. The wood glues, polishes, waxes, varnishes and paints well. It is reputed for its resistance to wood rot and insect attack. The sapwood is susceptible to Lyctus borers. The heartwood is very resistant to impregnation.
The chemical constituents of the essential oil of Cedrelopsis grevei were found to be extremely variable depending on the location of collection. Analysis of five commercial samples exhibited a wide variation in the contents of the main components: ishwarane (1.0–17.4%), (E)-β-caryophyllene (1.3–12.5%), α-copaene (4.9–11.0%), β-elemene (0.2–9.6%) and α-selinene (1.1–9.4%). The stem bark oil also contained the dihydroagarofuran 4-epi-cis-dihydroagarofuran and the sesquiterpene ishwarol B. A study analyzing the essential oil from the bark of trees from 6 locations found 4 chemotaxonomic patterns, characterized by an eudesmane skeleton, α-pinene and copaborneol, copaene and ishwarane, and cadinane skeletons, respectively. Variation between origins was much greater than variation within origins. The major constituents of commercial samples of oil from the stem bark were (E)-β-caryophyllene (9.3%), α-copaene (7.7%), α-selinene (5.8%), δ-cadinene (4.9%), β-selinene (4.5%), α-humulene (3.3%) and β-bisabolene (2.8%). The oils from bark and leaf were found to have a similar composition, but the relative percentages of some compounds notably differed. The bark essential oil contained β-pinene (17.1%), cis-sesquisabinene hydrate (12.8%) and caryophyllene oxide (7%) as the main components, whereas the leaf essential oil was largely dominated by trans-β-farnesene (35.6%), β-pinene (12.8%), cis-sesquisabinene hydrate (9.8%) and ar-curcumene (8.6%).
Numerous coumarins were isolated from the stem bark. One of these, cedrecoumarin A, showed agonistic activity on both α- and β-oestrogenic receptors as well as superoxide scavenging activity. The hexane extract of the stem bark furthermore yielded triterpenoids, limonoid derivatives, pentanortriterpenoids, a hexanortriterpenoid and quassinoids. From the heartwood several chromones have been isolated.
The seed of Cedrelopsis grevei yielded uvangoletin, 5,7-dimethylpinocembrin, cardamonin, flavokawin B, 2’-methoxyhelikrausichalcone and the prenylated chalcones cedreprenone and cedrediprenone.
Treatment of rats with 80 mg/kg bark extract for 4 weeks induced a progressive decrease in blood pressure, which was partly due to the presence of coumarins. A crude stem bark extract showed significant cicatrizing effect on skin ulcers of mice, as well as antibacterial activity (e.g. against Staphylococcus albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and antifungal activity (against Candida albicans). It also showed increased muscle contraction of mouse intestine, aorta and trachea.
Deciduous, monoecious or dioecious, medium-sized tree up to 28 m tall; bole straight, branchless for up to 9 m, up to 60(–120) cm in diameter; bark surface pale greyish to yellowish, rough; young twigs short-hairy. Leaves alternate, 12–20 cm long, paripinnately compound with up to 10 leaflets; stipules absent; petiole 3–4.5 cm long; petiolules 1.5–5 mm long; leaflets alternate or opposite, elliptical-oblong, 3–5(–8) cm × 1–1.5(–3) cm, base slightly asymmetrical, cuneate, apex slightly notched, margins slightly wavy, densely gland-dotted, hairy, pinnately veined with 12–18 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary panicle, short-hairy. Flowers unisexual or bisexual, regular, 5-merous, aromatic; pedicel 1–3 mm long; calyx with triangular lobes 4–5 mm long, thick, densely short-hairy; petals free, elliptical-oblong, 8–10 mm long, apex pointed and curled inwards, pink to yellowish, outside short-hairy; male flowers with 5 free stamens shorter than petals, disk lobed, c. 1 mm long, ovary rudimentary; female flowers with 5 rudimentary stamens, disk small, ovary superior, ovoid, 3–4 mm long, slightly 5-lobed, sparsely short-hairy, 5-celled, style c. 1 mm long, thick, stigma 5-lobed; bisexual flowers with slightly reduced stamens and ovary, and biologically non-functional. Fruit an ellipsoid capsule up to 3 cm long, dehiscing with 5 woody valves, short-hairy to glabrous, brownish to black at maturity, up to 12-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid, laterally flattened, c. 2 cm long, with a thin apical wing.
Other botanical information
Cedrelopsis comprises 8 species, all endemic to Madagascar. It has been placed in Meliaceae and Rutaceae. In the 1970s it was excluded from Rutaceae into a separate family Ptaeroxylaceae, together with Ptaeroxylon from East and southern Africa and later also Bottegoa from East Africa, but a more recent phylogenetic analysis of molecular data indicated that it is better included in an enlarged Rutaceae.
The wood of several Cedrelopsis spp. is used. Cedrelopsis gracilis J.-F.Leroy occurs in dry woodland of western Madagascar and is relatively rare. The wood is not very durable and is only occasionally used for construction. A bark extract is traditionally taken to treat fever. Cedrelopsis microfoliolata J.-F.Leroy occurs in dry woodland of northern, western and southern Madagascar. The wood is heavy and strong, but only occasionally used for construction purposes. A leaf decoction is taken by young mothers as a tonic. Cedrelopsis trivalvis J.-F.Leroy occurs in dry woodland of northern and western Madagascar. The wood is used for local construction, planks and poles.
Wood-anatomical description (IAWA hardwood codes):
Growth rings: 1: growth ring boundaries distinct. Vessels: 5: wood diffuse-porous; 10: vessels in radial multiples of 4 or more common; 13: simple perforation plates; 22: intervessel pits alternate; 25: intervessel pits small (4–7 μm); 30: vessel-ray pits with distinct borders; similar to intervessel pits in size and shape throughout the ray cell; 40: mean tangential diameter of vessel lumina 50 μm; 41: mean tangential diameter of vessel lumina 50–100 μm; 49: 40–100 vessels per square millimetre; 50: 100 vessels per square milllimetre; 58: gums and other deposits in heartwood vessels. Tracheids and fibres: 61: fibres with simple to minutely bordered pits; 66: non-septate fibres present; 69: fibres thin- to thick-walled. Axial parenchyma: (75: axial parenchyma absent or extremely rare); 89: axial parenchyma in marginal or in seemingly marginal bands. Rays: 96: rays exclusively uniseriate; 104: all ray cells procumbent; 115: 4–12 rays per mm. Mineral inclusions: 136: prismatic crystals present; 142: prismatic crystals in chambered axial parenchyma cells; 143: prismatic crystals in fibres.
(N.P. Mollel, P. Détienne & E.A. Wheeler)
Growth and development
Cedrelopsis grevei grows slowly, up to 50 cm per year, to reach a height of 0.5–3 m when 7 years old. It is estimated to need over 40 years to produce a small pole. In forests near Morondova Cedrelopsis grevei bears leaves for 130–210 days per year between November and September. It flowers annually, in September–November, but fruits irregularly, in November–January.
Cedrelopsis grevei occurs in open woodland, scrubland, secondary forest and seasonally dry forest, from sea-level up to 500(–900) m altitude. It grows on a wide variety of soil types, often on red or yellow sandy soils, but grows taller in river valleys than on plateau soils.
Propagation and planting
Cedrelopsis grevei can be propagated by seed and by stem cuttings. Fresh seeds have a high germination rate when direct sown in the field.
The wood, stem bark and leaves of Cedrelopsis grevei are extensively exploited on a local scale. As there is an increasing demand for the essential oil and for the timber on the international market, the species is currently being overexploited. In Ambararata forest near Belo all large trees have been felled for ship building, but there are on average 17 seedlings and 10 saplings per ha from natural regeneration. Cedrelopsis grevei is one of the tree species which are protected during land clearing operations. No information is available concerning its cultivation.
The stem bark and leaves are harvested from standing trees or from trees felled for their timber.
Genetic resources
Cedrelopsis grevei is widespread and still relatively common, and not in danger of genetic erosion, although the increasing pressure on the species for timber and medicinal purposes has led to local overexploitation. It could become threatened in the near future.
The current overexploitation of Cedrelopsis grevei for timber and medicinal purposes calls for sustainable forest management practices to be put in place as well as the development of plantations. Domestication protocols need to be developed. More research is warranted concerning the pharmacology of the isolated compounds from the wood, stem bark and leaves.
Major references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Ganzhorn, J.U. & Sorg, J.-P. (Editors), 1996. Ecology and economy of tropical dry forest in Madagascar. Primate Report 46-1, special issue. Erich Goltze, Göttingen, Germany. 382 pp.
• Gauvin, A., Ravaomanarivo, H. & Smadja, J., 2004. Comparative analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry of the essential oils from bark and leaves of Cedrelopsis grevei Baill, an aromatic and medicinal plant from Madagascar. Journal of Chromatography A 1029(1–2): 279–282.
• Guéneau, P., Bedel, J. & Thiel, J., 1970–1975. Bois et essences malgaches. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 150 pp.
• Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2004. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
• Leroy, J.-F. & Lescot, M., 1991. Ptaeroxylacées (Ptaeroxylaceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, familles 45, 57, 93 bis, 94, 107 bis. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 87–117.
• Parant, B., Chichignoud, M. & Rakotovao, G., 1985. Présentation graphique des caractères des principaux bois tropicaux. Tome 5. Bois de Madagascar. CIRAD, Montpellier, France. 161 pp.
• Rietveld, S. & Farazanamalala, J., 2008. Zazamalala forest and botanical garden. [internet] Foundation Friends of Southwestern Madagascar. Accessed June 2008.
• Schulte, K.E., Rücker, G. & Klewe, U., 2006. Einige Inhaltsstoffe der Rinde von Cedrelopsis grevei Baillon. Archiv der Pharmazie 306(11): 857–865.
• Takahashi, A., 1978. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan, 248 pp.
Other references
• Bayala, J., Boureima, Z., van der Hoek, R., Lamsellek, H., Nouatin, G.S, Randrianarisoa, M. & Torquebiau, E., 2003. L’arbre dans l’espace agricole du plateau de Vineta (Madagascar). Cahiers Agricultures 12(1): 15–21.
• Bolza, E. & Keating, W.G., 1972. African timbers: the properties, uses and characteristics of 700 species. Division of Building Research, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. 710 pp.
• Capuron, R., 1967. Répartition de quelques essences forestières. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Antananarivo, Madagascar. 47 pp.
• Cavalli, J.-F., Tomi, F., Bernardini, A.-F. & Casanova, J., 2003. Composition and chemical variability of the bark oil of Cedrelopsis grevei H.Baillon from Madagascar. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 18(6): 532–538.
• InsideWood, undated. [Internet] Accessed May 2007.
• Koorbanally, N.A., Randrianarivelojosia, M., Mulholland, D.A., van Ufford, L.Q. & van den Berg, A.J.J., 2002. Bioactive constituents of Cedrelopsis microfoliata. Journal of Natural Products 65(9): 1349–1352.
• Koorbanally, N.A., Randrianarivelojosia, M., Mulholland, D.A., van Ufford, L.Q. & van den Berg, A.J.J., 2003. Chalcones from the seed of Cedrelopsis grevei (Ptaeroxylaceae). Phytochemistry 62(8): 1225–1229.
• Mulholland, D.A., Kotsos, M., Mahomed, H.A., Koorbanally, N.A., Randrianarivelojosia, M., van Ufford, L.Q. & van den Berg, A.J.J., 2002. Coumarins from Cedrelopsis grevei (Ptaeroxylaceae). Phytochemistry 61(8): 919–922.
• Mulholland, D.A., Mahomed, H., Kotsos, M., Randrianarivelojosia, M., Lavaud, C., Massiot, G. & Nuzillard, J.-M., 1999. Limonoid derivatives from Cedrelopsis grevei. Tetrahedron 55(38): 11547–11552.
• Mulholland, D.A., McFarland, K., Randrianarivelojosia, M. & Rabarison, H., 2004. Cedkathryns A and B, pentanortriterpenoids from Cedrelopsis gracilis (Ptaeroxylaceae). Phytochemistry 65(21): 2929–2934.
• Mulholland, D.A., Naidoo, D., Randrianarivelojosia, M., Cheplogoi, P.K. & Coombes, P.H., 2003. Secondary metabolites from Cedrelopsis grevei (Ptaeroxylaceae). Phytochemistry 64(2): 631–635.
• Mulholland, D.A., Parel, B. & Coombes, P.H., 2000. The chemistry of the Meliaceae and Ptaeroxylaceae of Southern and Eastern Africa and Madagascar. Current Organic Chemistry 4(10): 1011–1054.
• Rahelinoro, F.M., 1994. Etude des plantes médicinales utilisées dans la lutte contre la “fièvre” dans la réserve spéciale de Manongarivo et environs - Ambanja. Thèse pour l'obtention du grade de Docteur en médecine, Etablissement d’Enseignement Supérieur des Sciences de la Santé, Faculté de Médecine, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 70 pp.
• Raivoarisoa, M.J.F., 1999. Etude de l’espèce Cedrelopsis grevei H. Baillon dans la région de Morondava: biologie, écologie, régénération naturelle et aspect socio-économique. Mémoire de DEA Physiologie et Ecologie Végétale, Option Ecologie végétale, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 77 pp.
• Rakotoarison, O., Rabenau, I., Lobstein, A., Um ByungHun, Schott, C., Anton, R., Randriantsoa, A. & Andriantsitohaina, R., 2003. Vasorelaxing properties and bio-guided fractionation of Cedrelopsis grevei. Planta Medica 69(2): 179–181.
• Rakotobe, M., Menut, C., Andrianoelisoa, H.S., Rahajanirina, V., Collas de Chatelperron, P., Roger, E. & Danthu, P., 2008. The bark essential oil composition and chemotaxonomical appraisal of Cedrelopsis grevei H. Baillon from Madagascar. Natural Product Communications 3(7): 1145–1150.
• Rakotomalala, H., 2004. Etude des huiles essentielles de Cedrelopsis grevei: caractérisation, identification des constituants, activités biologiques. Thèse de Doctorat de 3ème Cycle en Chimie Physique, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 128 pp.
• Ramaromanana, F., 2001. Valeur d’une ressource forestière et gestion durable : le cas du Cedrelopsis grevei (katrafay). Programme d’évaluation économique des ressources naturelles à Madagascar, Faculté de Droit, Economie, Gestion et Sociologie, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 44 pp.
• Ranaivo, H.R., Rakotoarison, O., Tesse, A., Schott, C., Randriantsoa, A., Lobstein, A. & Andriantsitohaina, R., 2004. Cedrelopsis grevei induced hypotension and improved endothelial vasodilatation through an increase of Cu/Zn SOD protein expression. American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circular Physiology 286(2): 775–781.
• Rasoanaivo, P. & de la Gorce, P., 1998. Essential oils of economic value in Madagascar: present state of knowledge. HerbalGram 43: 31–39, 58–59.
• Samisoa, G., 1998. Contribution à l’étude de la dynamique de la population de Cedrelopsis grevei B. dans la forêt de Zombitse et sa régénération artificielle. Mémoire de DEA option: Physiologie Végétale Faculté des Sciences. Département Biologie et Ecologie végétale. Université Antananarivo, Madagascar. 61 pp.
Sources of illustration
• Leroy, J.-F. & Lescot, M., 1991. Ptaeroxylacées (Ptaeroxylaceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, familles 45, 57, 93 bis, 94, 107 bis. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 87–117.
D. Dongock Nguemo
Département des Sciences Biologiques, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Ngaoundéré, BP 454, Ngaoundéré, Cameroon

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
Photo editor
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Dongock Nguemo, D., 2008. Cedrelopsis grevei Baill. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild

1, flowering twig; 2, male flower; 3, fruit; 4, seed.
Redrawn and adapted by Iskak Syamsudin

tree habit
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essential oil of the bark
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