Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Novosti Sist. Vyssh. Rast. 14: 138 (1977).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Lovanafia mahafaliensis M.Peltier (1972).
Origin and geographic distribution
Dicraeopetalum mahafaliense is endemic to southern Madagascar (Mahafaly Plateau).
The wood is used for house construction, flooring, interior and exterior carpentry, cabinet making, framing, turnery and tools.
The heartwood is red-brown and distinctly demarcated from the 2–3 cm wide, yellowish sapwood. The grain is straight, texture fine. The density is 910–1050 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. The wood is very hard and it dries slowly. It is stable when dried and takes a good finish. The heartwood is durable. It is resistant to fungi, Lyctus beetles and termites. Impregnation by preservatives is difficult. The sapwood is not durable.
Deciduous shrub or small tree up to 12 m tall; bole up to 45 cm in diameter; young twigs shortly hairy. Leaves alternate, imparipinnately compound with 5–13 leaflets; stipules lanceolate; petiole and rachis shortly hairy; leaflets alternate or opposite, elliptical to oblong-elliptical, (1–)1.5–3.5(–4.5) cm × 0.5–2 cm, rounded to shallowly notched at apex, thinly leathery, glabrous but hairy on midrib and margins. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary, dense raceme 3–11 cm long, many-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel with small bract near the middle; calyx broadly cup-shaped, c. 2 mm long, shallowly toothed, hairy and glandular; petals more or less equal, oblong-elliptical, 6–9 mm × 2–3 mm, with a slender claw at base, creamy white to yellowish; stamens 10, free; ovary superior, glandular, 1-celled, style cylindrical, straight, stigma head-shaped. Fruit an ellipsoid-obovoid pod 2–3 cm × 1–2 cm, flattened, thin and brittle, densely glandular, indehiscent, 1(–2)-seeded. Seed kidney-shaped, 5.5–7 mm long, brown.
Dicraeopetalum comprises 3 species, 2 of which are endemic to Madagascar and the third one to East Africa. It appears to be related to Cadia, which also has regular flowers but these are larger and pink to purple. Both genera resemble Caesalpiniaceae, but the upper petal is usually outside the other petals in bud, which is typical for Papilionaceae.
The wood of Dicraeopetalum capuronianum (M.Peltier) Yakovlev is used for tools. This species is also endemic to southern Madagascar, where it is uncommon. It differs from Dicraeopetalum mahafaliense in its leaflets which are densely pubescent below, and in its pods which are densely pubescent, non-glandular and narrowly winged.
Growth of Dicraeopetalum mahafaliense is slow. The tree usually flowers before new leaves develop.
Dicraeopetalum mahafaliense occurs in dry woodland and scrubland up to 250 m altitude, on sandy or rocky soils over limestone.
When the bole is harvested for timber, the tree often resprouts. However, possibilities for sustainable management of natural populations are limited because of the slow growth.
Genetic resources and breeding
Dicraeopetalum mahafaliense as well as Dicraeopetalum capuronianum are classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red list of threatened species. In the areas of both species the natural vegetation is fragmented because of heavy grazing and clearance, and there are few protected areas.
Research should emphasize protection of the Dicraeopetalum species. Harvesting for timber should be discouraged.
• 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. & Labat, H., 1998. Dicraeopetalum capuroniana. In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed September 2006.
• du Puy, D. & Labat, H., 1998. Dicraeopetalum mahafaliensis. In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed January 2007.
• Peltier, M., 1972. Les Sophorées de Madagascar. Adansonia, séries 2, 12(1): 137–154.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2007. Dicraeopetalum mahafaliense (M.Peltier) Yakovlev. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.