Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 2: 307 (1899).
Sterculiaceae (APG: Malvaceae)
2n = 40, 42
Petit ouara (Fr). Amoreira, moreira (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cola lateritia is distributed from Guinea to south-eastern DR Congo. It has been introduced elsewhere, e.g. into Cape Verde, where it has naturalized.
The wood of Cola lateritia is used in local carpentry and for making casks and bows. In DR Congo the wood of the buttresses is considered good for making pails and tubs for household use, and clappers made from the wood are attached to hunting-dogs.
The fruit pulp is eaten and the seed is chewed in the same way as that of the true kola (mainly Cola acuminata (P.Beauv.) Schott & Endl. and Cola nitida (Vent.) Schott & Endl.). In Côte d’Ivoire leaf buds and young leaves are eaten as a vegetable; they are much appreciated during feasts and initiation ceremonies. Fibre from the bark is made into cordage.
In Sierra Leone sun-dried plant parts are smoked in a pipe for treatment of tuberculosis. In Liberia eruptions, especially on the nostrils, are treated with an ointment of the inner bark pounded with clay, and by bathing the afflicted parts in a leaf decoction. In Côte d’Ivoire a bark-decoction is applied as vaginal douche against sterility, whereas a preparation of the inner bark is drunk against cough. In Central Africa a bark decoction is drunk against intercostal pain.
The heartwood of Cola lateritia is pinkish brown, sometimes figured; the sapwood is grey-white. The grain is mostly straight, texture coarse. The wood has a density of about 590 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It is tough, strong and flexible, bending without breaking. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 74 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 10,100 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 51 N/mm², Janka side hardness 3980 N and Janka end hardness 4230 N. The wood is difficult to work and does not give a smooth finish. It splits easily, and is not durable.
Large deciduous tree up to 50 m tall; bole straight, up to 80 cm in diameter, usually with concave buttresses 1–2 m high and about 1.2 m wide at the base; outer bark grey to brown, smooth, sometimes slightly fissured or cracked, inner bark pink, fibrous; crown large and spreading; twigs and buds hairy. Leaves alternate, simple, entire or lobed; stipules triangular, up to 8 mm long, caducous; petiole up to 30 cm long, sparsely hairy, glabrescent; blade broadly ovate, up to 35(–45) cm × 30(–40) cm, base cordate, apex acute, hairy on both sides when young, glabrescent, becoming reddish at drying, basal veins 7–9, lateral veins in 4–7 pairs. Inflorescence a panicle up to 15 cm long in axils of upper leaves or on defoliated branches, reddish pubescent. Flowers unisexual or bisexual, regular, yellow, pink or red, scented; pedicel up to 15 mm long, jointed; calyx campanulate, 5(–7)-lobed, 7–15 mm long; corolla absent; male flowers with a shortly hairy androphore with 2 whorls of 7–10 stamens each; female and bisexual flowers with ovary generally consisting of 4 carpels. Fruit consisting of usually 4 indehiscent follicles, on robust, 7–10 cm long pedicel; follicles ovoid to globose, up to 6.5 cm long, with a short and slender beak, red or pink, wrinkled, glabrous, 4–8-seeded. Seeds ovoid, 2.5–3 cm × 1.5 cm, glabrous, surrounded by a mucilaginous pulp; aril c. 2 mm thick. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Cola comprises about 100 species and is restricted to continental Africa. Cola bruneelii De Wild., a shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall also occurs in dense humid forest in DR Congo. Its wood is locally used for making tool handles; its leaves and seed pulp are edible.
Within Cola lateritia 2 varieties are distinguished: var. lateritia, with peduncle 5–15 mm long, distributed from southern Nigeria to Gabon, and var. maclaudii (A.Chev.) Brenan & Keay, with peduncle less than 3 mm long, distributed from Guinea to south-western Nigeria.
In Sierra Leone the tree is leafless in April and May; flowering has been observed from October to May and ripe fruits from February to September. In Côte d’Ivoire Cola lateritia flowers from August to April; fruiting is from November to July. Rodents eat the fruits and may disperse the seeds.
Cola lateritia occurs in rainforest, gallery forest and secondary forest, up to 1000 m altitude.
Cola lateritia is sometimes planted, e.g. in Cameroon and Cape Verde, but management details are lacking. The 1000-seed weight is 1.7–3.3 kg. Germination takes place 6–21 days after sowing; the germination rate is usually high.
Genetic resources and breeding
In view of its wide distribution, Cola lateritia is not threatened by genetic erosion.
Cola lateritia is a useful source of wood for local use and of other products, such as food, fibre and medicines. However, the quality of its wood is probably too poor to expect increased importance as a source of timber.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2007. Cola lateritia K.Schum. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
leaves and fruits