Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Paris 1: 436 (1884).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Dalbergia pterocarpiflora Baker (1890).
Hazovola à grandes feuilles (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Dalbergia chapelieri is endemic to eastern Madagascar.
The wood is used for construction, carpentry and furniture. In the past, it has been used for railway sleepers. It is also used in traditional medicine to treat parasitic diseases including bilharzia, intestinal complaints including diarrhoea and dysentery, and to facilitate childbirth. The bark is sometimes collected and used for tanning hides and dyeing.
Production and international trade
The wood is traded in small amounts in local and international markets, often mixed with the wood of other Dalbergia spp.
The heartwood is red to purplish grey with darker streaks, distinctly demarcated from the reddish grey sapwood. The texture is medium. The wood is moderately heavy, slightly lighter in weight than the wood of Dalbergia baronii Baker, hard and elastic. Shrinkage during drying is moderate to high. The wood is suitable for sliced veneer. It is moderately durable.
The presence of flavonoids, tannins, triterpenes, steroids, coumarins and anthracenosides has been recorded for Dalbergia chapelieri.
Deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 15(–18) m tall; bole up to 60 cm in diameter; outer bark thin, with lenticels, whitish to greyish, inner bark brownish; young branches glabrous. Leaves arranged spirally, imparipinnately compound with (7–)11–15(–19) leaflets; stipules small, caducous; petiole and rachis usually glabrous; petiolules 1.5–4 mm long; leaflets alternate, obovate to elliptical or oblong-elliptical, 2–6 cm × 1–3 cm, leathery, glabrous. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary panicle 5–10 cm long, short-hairy. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous, 8–12 mm long; pedicel 1.5–4(–5) mm long; calyx campanulate, 6–9 mm long, reddish to purple, lobes longer than tube, upper lobes fused; corolla whitish, often reddish tinged, with broadly elliptical standard and clawed wings and keel; stamens 10, fused into a tube, but free in upper part; ovary superior, with distinct stipe at base, style slender, c. 2 mm long. Fruit a flat, elliptical to oblong pod 5–8(–13) cm × 1.5–3 cm, with stipe 3–5 mm long, glabrous, reddish brown, finely reticulately veined, indehiscent, 1–3-seeded.
Dalbergia chapelieri trees flower when they are leafless or forming new foliage, from August to April. Nitrogen-fixing root nodules have been reported for Dalbergia chapelieri; Bradyrhizobium and Mesorhizobium strains have been isolated from the root nodules.
Dalbergia is a large pantropical genus comprising about 250 species. Tropical Asia and tropical America have about 70 species each, continental Africa about 50 and Madagascar slightly over 40. In Madagascar many Dalbergia species produce high-quality wood.
Dalbergia pervillei Vatke from western Madagascar is very similar to Dalbergia chapelieri, but it can be distinguished by its usually short-hairy petiole and rachis and slightly smaller fruits. The wood of Dalbergia pervillei is also used for carpentry and furniture, and the reddish exudate is used in local medicine to treat laryngitis. Dalbergia pervillei is classified in the lower risk category in the IUCN Red list. Dalbergia tricolor Drake is related to Dalbergia pervillei; it is selectively felled for its timber, and its bark yields a black dye and its wood a red one. It is classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red list. Dalbergia tsiandalana R.Vig. is another somewhat similar species from western Madagascar; it can be distinguished by its more numerous and smaller leaflets. Although it is a small and rare tree, it is reportedly selectively felled for its good-quality rosewood, although confusion with other species may be the basis of this statement. Dalbergia tsiandalana is classified as endangered in the IUCN Red list. Dalbergia glaberrima Bosser & R.Rabev. also resembles Dalbergia chapelieri, especially in its flowers, but differs in fewer leaflets per leaf and its inflorescence being a raceme. It is classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red list. The wood of Dalbergia glaberrima is used in western Madagascar for construction and furniture.
Dalbergia chapelieri occurs in evergreen humid forest, up to 1000 m altitude. It can be found in humid valleys as well as on drier crests, and even may survive as a shrub after resprouting in secondary vegetation.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Dalbergia chapelieri is widespread in eastern Madagascar, from Maroantsetra in the north to Tôlañaro in the south, it occurs mainly in lowland forest, a habitat that is under much pressure because of growing human populations and the resulting demand for agricultural land. Moreover, Dalbergia chapelieri is locally selectively felled for its valued timber. It is included in the IUCN Red list as vulnerable.
Very little information is available on Dalbergia chapelieri, and much research is still needed to judge its prospects. However, these do not seem bright because of the often small size of the tree and its declining numbers.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2007. Dalbergia chapelieri Baill. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.