Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Bull. Mus. natl. Hist. nat., sect. B, Adansonia 18: 211 (1996).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Dalbergia mollis is endemic to western and central Madagascar, where it is widespread.
The wood is highly valued for construction, cabinet making and carpentry. It is one of the so-called rosewoods (‘Madagascar rosewood’, ‘palisander’).
Production and international trade
The wood is traded in small volumes in local and international markets, often mixed with the wood of other Dalbergia spp.
Deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 15(–20) m tall; bark whitish; young branches densely yellowish brown hairy. Leaves arranged spirally, imparipinnately compound with (5–)7–17(–19) leaflets; stipules small, caducous; petiole and rachis velvety hairy, glabrescent; petiolules 2.5–5.5 mm long; leaflets alternate, ovate to elliptical or oblong, 2–7 cm × 1–2.5 cm, thinly leathery, velvety hairy on both sides but glabrescent above. Inflorescence a terminal compound raceme 5–10 cm long, with short and slightly coiled final divisions, yellowish brown hairy. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous, c. 5 mm long, almost sessile; calyx campanulate, 3–4 mm long, dark purple at base, lobes yellowish, lobes shorter than tube, lower lobe slightly longer, upper lobes fused; corolla whitish becoming pale yellow, with broadly obovate standard and clawed wings and keel; stamens 10, fused into a tube, but free in upper part; ovary superior, covered in long, yellowish hairs, with distinct stipe at base, style c. 1 mm long. Fruit a flat, oblong pod 3–16 cm × 1–3 cm, with stipe 7–12 mm long, glabrous, grey to brown, densely longitudinally veined, indehiscent, 1–2(–3)-seeded. Seeds kidney-shaped, 8–9 mm × c. 5 mm, reddish brown.
Dalbergia mollis flowers from August to October.
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 peltieri Bosser & R.Rabev. is, like Dalbergia mollis, fairly widespread and locally common in western Madagascar; its wood is also used for construction and carpentry, but is comparatively soft. Dalbergia peltieri is characterized by the combination of its small flowers (up to 3.5 mm) and large leaflets (up to 10 cm). It is included in the IUCN Red list as a lower risk, near-threatened species.
Dalbergia mollis occurs in deciduous, seasonally dry forest and woodland, up to 700 m altitude, mainly on sandy soils.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Dalbergia mollis is fairly widespread and locally common in western Madagascar, larger trees have become rare because of selective felling for its high valued timber. It occurs in regions where the forest has become fragmented, with few protected areas. It is included in the IUCN Red list as a lower risk species, but close to threatened.
Very little information is available on Dalbergia mollis, and research is still needed to judge its prospects as a timber tree of future importance. Its superior wood quality warrants planting trials, but at this time the major concerns are its declining numbers and 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.
• du Puy, D., 1998. Dalbergia mollis. In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed January 2007.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2007. Dalbergia mollis Bosser & R.Rabev. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.