Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Linnaea 43: 105 (1881).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Dalbergia madagascariensis is endemic to northern and eastern Madagascar, where it is widespread.
The wood is one of the so-called rosewoods (‘Madagascar rosewood’, ‘palisander’) much in demand for cabinet making, furniture, marquetry and parquet flooring. Locally it is also used for construction.
Production and international trade
The wood is probably traded in small amounts in local and international markets, often mixed with the wood of other Dalbergia spp.
The heartwood is yellow-brown to reddish brown, often with darker stripes, and distinctly demarcated from the sapwood.
Deciduous small to medium-sized tree up to 15(–20) m tall; young branches short-hairy or glabrous. Leaves arranged spirally, imparipinnately compound with 5–15 leaflets; stipules small, caducous; petiole and rachis short-hairy or glabrous; petiolules 2–4 mm long; leaflets alternate, ovate to elliptical or oblong, (2–)4–8(–12) cm × (1–)2–3.5(–5) cm, thinly leathery, glabrous or sparsely hairy below. Inflorescence an axillary panicle 4–10(–30) cm long, with slightly coiled final divisions, glabrous or short-hairy. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous, 5–7.5 (–9) mm long; pedicel up to 2 mm long; calyx campanulate, 3–5(–6.5) mm long, deep purple at base with yellowish lobes, lobes shorter than tube, lower lobe slightly longer, upper lobes fused; corolla whitish, with broadly obovate to violin-shaped 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 short. Fruit a flat, elliptical to oblong pod 5–15 cm × 1.5–3 cm, with stipe 5–7 mm long, glabrous, reddish brown, reticulately veined, indehiscent, 1–2(–4)-seeded.
The roots of Dalbergia madagascariensis have nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria; Azorhizobium, 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 erubescens Bosser & R.Rabev. from south-central Madagascar has similar leaves to Dalbergia madagascariensis, but differs in its inflorescences and flowers; it is selectively felled for its timber. It is classified as an endangered species in the IUCN Red list. Dalbergia bathiei R.Vig. is another endangered species in the IUCN Red list. It has been selectively felled for its timber which was used in cabinet making, but it has become very rare in its area of distribution, i.e. eastern Madagascar. It bears some resemblance to Dalbergia madagascariensis, but differs in its shorter leaves and smaller flowers.
Dalbergia madagascariensis occurs in humid, evergreen forest, often along watercourses, up to 1000 m altitude, on sandy soils and soils derived from igneous or basaltic rocks.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Dalbergia madagascariensis is widespread in Madagascar, it is included in the IUCN Red list as vulnerable because it is selectively felled for its valued timber and the area under forest is declining.
Very little information is available on Dalbergia madagascariensis, and much research is still needed to judge its prospects as a timber tree of future importance. Its declining numbers warrant protection of the remaining stands.
• du Puy, D.J., Labat, J.N., Rabevohitra, R., Villiers, J.-F., Bosser, J. & Moat, J., 2002. The Leguminosae of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 750 pp.
• Rasolomampianina, R., Bailly, X., Fetiarison, R., Rabevohitra, R., Béna, G., Ramaroson, L., Raherimandimby, M., Moulin, L., de Lajudie, P., Dreyfus, B. & Avarre, J .-C., 2005. Nitrogen fixing nodules from rose wood legume trees (Dalbergia spp.) endemic to Madagascar host seven different genera belonging to α- and β-proteobacteria. Molecular Ecology 14(13): 4135–4146.
• du Puy, D., 1998. Dalbergia madagascariensis. In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed December 2006.
• Richter, H.G. & Dallwitz, M.J., 2000. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. [Internet]. Version 18th October 2002. http://delta-intkey.com/wood/index.htm. Accessed January 2007.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2007. Dalbergia madagascariensis Vatke. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
wood in transverse section
wood in radial section