Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Trees and shrubs of Kenya Colony: 99 (1936).
Origin and geographic distribution
Fagaropsis angolensis occurs from eastern DR Congo, southern Sudan and Ethiopia south to northern Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The wood is used for flooring, furniture and panelling. It is also suitable for light construction, joinery, interior trim, vehicle bodies, sporting goods, toys, novelties, musical instruments, carving, turnery, veneer and plywood. It is used as firewood and for making charcoal.
In Kenya the stem bark is used in traditional medicine to treat malaria, and the root is chewed as an expectorant. In Malawi and Zimbabwe root powder is taken in drinks or gruel to treat male sterility.
The heartwood is yellowish grey to dark green or brown tinged with green or yellow, darkening on exposure, and fairly distinctly demarcated from the pale yellow or greenish to greyish white sapwood, which is up to 6 cm wide. The grain is usually straight, occasionally wavy, texture moderately fine and even. Growth rings are distinct. The wood is lustrous. Due to variations in colour and grain, the wood sometimes has a beautiful figure on both radial and tangential sections and also on peeled veneer.
The wood is moderately heavy, with a density of about 700 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. Usually drying does not cause problems, with little deformation, except for end splitting in thick material. The rates of shrinkage are moderate, from green to 12% moisture content 2.1% radial and 3.7% tangential. Boards 2.5 cm thick air dry in 4 weeks in Tanzania, and boards 5 cm thick in 3 months. The wood is often only moderately stable in service, splitting of fixed panels being common when the air humidity is low.
At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 105 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 14,500 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 59 N/mm², shear 16 N/mm², cleavage 66 N/mm radial and 87 N/mm tangential, and Janka side hardness 6090 N.
Boards may split during conversion of the log, but the dry wood saws and works fairly easily with both hand and machine tools. It can be finished to a smooth surface and polishes well. The moulding, mortising and turning properties are all satisfactory. Pre-boring before nailing is necessary; the nail-holding power is good. The wood is moderately durable to durable and moderately resistant to termite attack, but liable to Lyctus and marine borer attacks. The heartwood is resistant to impregnation with preservatives, the sapwood moderately resistant.
Several alkaloids and limonoids have been isolated from the stem bark, including the anti-malarial benzophenanthridine alkaloid nitidine. Methanol and aqueous extracts of the stem bark showed considerable in-vitro activity against both chloroquine-resistant and chloroquine-sensitive Plasmodium falciparum strains. Methanol extracts showed significant toxicity in the brine shrimp test, but water extracts showed only mild toxicity. Canthin-6-one and 5-methoxycanthin-6-one showed fungicidal activity.
Deciduous small to medium-sized tree up to 25(–40) m tall; bole branchless for up to 18 m, usually straight and cylindrical, up to 100(–200) cm in diameter, sometimes with buttresses at base; bark surface pale grey to greyish brown, slightly rough, inner bark bright orange with a white layer; crown spreading; twigs short-hairy, purplish brown. Leaves opposite, imparipinnately compound with 2–4(–6) pairs of leaflets; stipules absent; petiole up to 7 cm long; petiolules 1–2 mm long, but in terminal leaflet up to 2 cm; leaflets ovate to oblong-ovate or elliptical, 4–9(–15.5) cm × 2–5 cm, asymmetrical at base, acute to shortly acuminate at apex, margin entire to faintly toothed, gland-dotted, nearly glabrous to short-hairy, pinnately veined with 8–16 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal panicle up to 12 cm long, with opposite branches. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel 4–10 mm long; sepals fused at base, ovate, c. 1 mm long, densely hairy; petals free, oblanceolate, 3.5–6 mm long, yellowish white to greenish yellow; male flowers with 4–8 stamens 2.5–4 mm long and rudimentary ovary; female flowers with superior, slightly 4-lobed ovary, 4-celled, with short style and 4-lobed stigma, stamens rudimentary. Fruit a globose drupe 6–8 mm in diameter, pitted with numerous glands, indehiscent, 2–4-seeded. Seeds triangular-ovoid, c. 5 mm in diameter, grey to black, reticulately furrowed.
Fagaropsis angolensis grows moderately fast. In southern Africa trees flower in October–November, in Kenya in November–December. Fruits ripen 2–3 months later.
Fagaropsis comprises 4 species, 2 of which occur in mainland Africa and 2 are endemic to Madagascar. Fagaropsis hildebrandtii (Engl.) Milne-Redh., occurring in eastern Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, is closely related to Fagaropsis angolensis and may be conspecific; it differs in its smaller habit (shrub or small tree), more hairy leaves and smaller inflorescences. The wood is probably occasionally used for similar purposes as that of Fagaropsis angolensis, whereas the roots are used in traditional medicine to treat chest pain.
Fagaropsis angolensis occurs in evergreen rainforest and dry evergreen forest or woodland, at 1000–2600 m altitude. It is often found in rocky localities on slopes of mountains, but also on termite mounds. In Ethiopia it is often associated with Podocarpus.
The germination rate of fresh seed is generally high, but seeds lose their viability rapidly, within 2 months. Pre-treatment of seed before sowing is not necessary. One kg contains 4000–4500 seeds. Root suckers can also be used for propagation. Trees can be managed by coppicing. Logs are susceptible to splitting in felling operations, sometimes over the full length of the bole. To avoid splitting, it has been suggested that the standing tree be ring-barked a year before felling. In Uganda heavy predation of seedlings by rodents has been recorded.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Fagaropsis angolensis is widespread and not immediately endangered, it is uncommon in several regions within its distribution area, especially in southern Africa. It is among the top ten priority species that are to be considered for conservation in south-western Ethiopia. In the West Usambara Mountains (Tanzania) it has been heavily exploited for its timber and is threatened at present.
In regions where the trees attain large sizes, Fagaropsis angolensis is a valuable timber tree that deserves more attention from research directed towards sustainable exploitation and possibilities for planting. Tests indicate that aqueous stem bark extracts may be effective and safe drugs against malaria in humans. However, further studies, including identification of additional antiplasmodial compounds are still needed, as well as more elaborate toxicity studies.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2008. Fagaropsis angolensis (Engl.) Dale. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.