Prota 14: Vegetable oils/Oléagineux
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 46: 288 (1911).
Klainedoxa grandifolia Engl. (1907).
Olène, andok ngoué (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Irvingia grandifolia occurs in the forest zone from western Nigeria east to eastern DR Congo and south to Cabinda (Angola).
The oil-rich seeds are occasionally cooked and eaten in the Central African Republic. The pulp of the fruit is edible, but is not sought after. The bark macerated in palm wine is taken as an aphrodisiac. A bark decoction is taken against pain in various parts of the body. Rubbing with bark powder also relieves pain. A bark decoction is also used for bathing to treat fever in children. A decoction of the leaves taken together with raw cassava tubers or with a decoction of the leaves of Staudtia kamerunensis Warb. is taken to treat hypermenorrhoea. The wood is used locally in heavy construction and is called ‘andok ngoué’ in Cameroon.
The kernels are rich in oil. The wood is hard, heavy and difficult to work.
Large tree up to 40 m tall; bole straight and unbranched for up to 20 m, up to 150 cm in diameter, often with buttresses up to 4 m high; outer bark greyish, smooth to scaly, inner bark yellow, fibrous; crown hemispherical, with spreading branches. Leaves alternate, simple and entire, pendulous; stipules up to 1 cm long; petiole c. 1 cm long; blade ovate to elliptical, 10–25 (–35) cm × 8–15 cm, base mostly cordate, apex acute or minutely acuminate, papery, pinnately veined. Inflorescence a terminal, branched panicle up to 8 cm long, with flowers crowded on the axes. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, small, sessile; sepals free, 1–1.5 mm long; petals free, 2–2.5 mm long; stamens 10, inserted below disk, free, equal, filaments 3–4 mm long; disk 1.5 mm in diameter, bright yellow, nectariferous; ovary superior, 2-celled, style very short. Fruit an ovoid to ellipsoid drupe, slightly laterally compressed, 4.5–6 cm × 2.5–4 cm × 2–3.5 cm, green turning yellow after falling, pulp soft, juicy, sweet, pyrene 1-seeded. Seed 3–3.5 cm × 1.5–2 cm × c. 0.5 cm. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Irvingia comprises 7 species, 6 in tropical Africa and 1 in South-East Asia. Irvingia grandifolia is often deciduous and flushing of new leaves usually affects the whole tree. Its flowering tends to peak at the end of the dry season, its fruiting at the end of the rainy season; leaves turn beautifully red before falling.
Irvingia grandifolia occurs in forest on dry land, occasionally in damp localities or in gallery forest. It is often left standing when forest is cleared for agriculture.
Seed of Irvingia grandifolia is only collected from the wild and occasionally from trees retained in plantations.
Genetic resources and breeding
Irvingia grandifolia does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion.
Irvingia grandifolia is likely to remain of minor economic importance, both as food plant and as a timber tree.
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• Harris, D.J., 1996. A revision of the Irvingiaceae in Africa. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 65: 143–196.
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• Gilbert, G., 1958. Irvingiaceae. 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 7. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 109–118.
Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2007. Irvingia grandifolia (Engl.) Engl. In: van der Vossen, H.A.M. & Mkamilo, G.S. (Editors). PROTA 14: Vegetable oils/Oléagineux. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.