Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Boissiera 11: 76 (1965).
Gambeya boiviniana Pierre (1891), Gambeya madagascariensis Lecomte (1920).
Famelona à grandes feuilles (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Chrysophyllum boivinianum occurs in the Comoros and eastern Madagascar.
In Madagascar the wood is commonly used for interior joinery and carpentry, furniture, moulding, panelling, light flooring and ladders. It is also used in shipbuilding because of its elasticity.
The fruits are edible. Crushed leaves are applied as a dressing to treat scorpion stings. In Madagascar Chrysophyllum boivinianum forms part of plant mixtures used to treat poisoning and to relieve symptoms of malaria, tiredness and muscular pains.
The heartwood is cream-coloured to brownish yellow or pinkish brown, sometimes with irregular dark stripes, and indistinctly demarcated from the sapwood, which is 5–6 cm wide. The grain is straight, occasionally slightly wavy, texture fine to moderately fine and even.
The wood is medium-weight, with a density of 630–710 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. The rates of shrinkage are moderate to high, from green to oven dry 3.7–4.7% radial and 8.6–9.9(–12.5%) tangential. However, the wood air dries well with little degrade, although occasionally with a tendency to warp.
At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 128–151 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 11,470–12,940 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 43–53 N/mm², shear 8.1 N/mm², cleavage 17–23 N/mm and Chalais-Meudon hardness 2.5–3.1.
The wood is easy to saw, works well with hand and machine tools, and it can be planed to an excellent finish. It does not easily split when nailed, but it holds nails and screws only moderately well. It has good gluing and painting properties. It turns well, and it has good steam bending properties. The wood is only moderately durable; it is liable to attacks by fungi and insects. The heartwood is resistant to treatment with preservatives, the sapwood moderately resistant.
Medium-sized tree up to 25 m tall; bole up to 60 cm in diameter, straight, often fluted, reaching up to 18 m to the first branches, often slightly buttressed at base; bark surface smooth, inner bark exuding a sticky white latex; young branches angular, hairy, older branches with leaf scars. Leaves arranged spirally, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 1.5–2 cm long, channelled, hairy; blade elliptical to obovate, 7–12(–40) cm × 2.5–3.5(–12) cm, cuneate at base, shortly acuminate at apex, densely reddish brown appressed hairy below, pinnately veined with 12–30 pairs of straight lateral veins. Flowers in axillary fascicles, bisexual, regular, 5-merous, sessile or with short pedicel; sepals free, 2.5–3 mm long, pubescent; corolla with c. 2.5 mm long tube and rounded lobes c. 1.5 mm long, hairy at margins, creamy white; stamens inserted in corolla tube, opposite corolla lobes; ovary superior, long-hairy, 5-celled, style short, tapering, glabrous. Fruit a globose berry up to 4.5 cm in diameter, up to 5-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid, flattened, up to 3 cm × 1.5 cm.
Chrysophyllum comprises about 70 species and occurs throughout the tropics. Tropical America is richest in species (about 45), followed by continental Africa (about 15), Madagascar (about 10) and tropical Asia and Australia (together 2). The genus has been subdivided into 6 sections, 2 of which (sect. Aneuchrysophyllum and sect. Donella) contain African species. Chrysophyllum boivinianum belongs to sect. Aneuchrysophyllum.
The fruits of Chrysophyllum boivinianum are commonly eaten by lemur species, which may disperse the seeds.
Chrysophyllum boivinianum occurs in humid evergreen forest from sea-level up to 1750 m altitude. It is particularly characteristic of mid-elevation forest along the escarpment in eastern Madagascar. It occurs in littoral and sub-littoral forests on sandy soils, but it prefers lateritic soils where it may be abundant. It is also found in forest remnants on high plateaus.
After felling, logs should be removed from the forest rapidly as they may develop heart shakes and end splits. They are liable to blue stain attack and therefore dipping in anti-sapstain preservatives is recommended before stacking.
Genetic resources and breeding
Chrysophyllum boivinianum is widespread in eastern Madagascar and locally common, and it does not seem to be liable to genetic erosion at present. However, there is some concern about the decrease of the species in recent years, and it was included in a TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network, a joint programme of WWF and IUCN) list of species that are used in traditional medicine and are in need of conservation, management and/or research in eastern and southern Africa.
As long as stands of sufficient proportions remain, the timber of Chrysophyllum boivinianum will be important for local utilization. It is recommended that the propagation and management of this species be studied as a basis for possibilities for its use in timber plantations of indigenous trees in Madagascar.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2007. Chrysophyllum boivinianum (Pierre) Baehni. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.