Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres
Adansonia 7: 51 (1866).
Origin and geographic distribution
Desplatsia subericarpa is distributed in West and Central Africa, from Sierra Leone to DR Congo and Cabinda (Angola).
The fibrous bark is used in DR Congo for making rope. The leaves have been recorded to be eaten as a leaf vegetable in Nigeria, whereas other sources mention they have been used for poisoning. In Ghana and Gabon the ripe fruit is boiled to obtain a black dye, derived from an orange-red gum present in the fruit. The dye is used for cloth and stains like printer’s ink. The fruit is recorded to be eaten as a vegetable in Nigeria, and it is rubbed on the body to prevent animals from biting.
Shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall; bole 4–10 cm in diameter; branchlets densely reddish hairy to glabrescent. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules 3–6-fid, 4–9 mm long, with linear-filiform lobes, hairy, persistent; petiole 5–20 mm long, hairy; blade ovate-oblong to obovate-oblong, 7–25 cm × 2.5–9.5 cm, base cordate to subcordate and asymmetric, apex long-acuminate, margin obscurely toothed, pinnately veined with 8–50 pairs of lateral veins, papery, glabrous above except for the sparsely hairy veins, sparsely hairy below. Inflorescence composed of axillary or terminal umbelliform cymes, slender, lax, 3–7-flowered; peduncle 0.5–4.5 cm long, hairy; involucral bracts 3–4-fid, 4–6 mm long, with linear-filiform lobes, hairy, more or less persistent. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 4–10 mm long; sepals oblanceolate, 8–10 mm × 2–3 mm, fringed at the apex, hairy on both sides; petals oblong, 1.5–3 mm × 2–3 mm, rounded at the apex, pinkish white, hairy outside; stamens numerous, connected at the base in a glabrous tube; ovary superior, 5–7-celled. Fruit an oblong-ellipsoid drupe 6–10 cm × 5–7.5 cm, glabrous, surface uneven, yellow at maturity, containing a gum changing from yellow through orange and red to black, many-seeded. Seeds ovoid, winged. Seedling with epigeal germination; first leaves opposite, simple, toothed.
In Ghana Desplatsia subericarpa flowers in November–March. In Côte d’Ivoire it fruits in July.
Desplatsia comprises 4–6 species, distributed in tropical Africa.
Desplatsia subericarpa occurs from sea-level up to 600 m altitude, in the understorey of dense, evergreen, often secondary forest, and along rivers. It is common in Ghana.
The 1000-seed weight of Desplatsia subericarpa is 165–200 g. In Côte d’Ivoire germination takes 15–30 days.
Genetic resources and breeding
Desplatsia subericarpa has a wide distribution, and is not threatened by genetic erosion.
Desplatsia subericarpa is a local source of fibre, dye and food, but it seems not important in any of these aspects and is unlikely to become more important in the future.
• Aubréville, A., 1959. La flore forestière de la Côte d’Ivoire. Deuxième édition révisée. Tome deuxième. Publication No 15. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 341 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• de la Mensbruge, G., 1966. La germination et les plantules des essences arborées de la forêt dense humide de la Côte d’Ivoire. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 389 pp.
• Wilczek, R., 1963. Tiliaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 10. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 1–91.
• Hawthorne, W.D., 1995. Ecological profiles of Ghanaian forest trees. Tropical Forestry Papers 29. Oxford Forestry Institute, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. 345 pp.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Johnson, E.J. & Johnson, T.J., 1976. Economic plants in a rural Nigerian market. Economic Botany 30: 375–381.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1958. Tiliaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 300–310.
• Masters, M.T., 1868. Tiliaceae. In: Oliver, D. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 1. L. Reeve & Co, Ashford, United Kingdom. pp. 240–268.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2009. Desplatsia subericarpa Bocq. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.