Prota 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins
Bull. Soc. Linn. Paris 2: 917 (1898).
Nato, nantou, bois de natte (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis is endemic to eastern Madagascar.
The bark of Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis is used for dyeing silk and cotton tissues red. Occasionally, the bark is also used for tanning hides. Bark decoctions of all Labourdonnaisia species are astringent and used to treat haemorrhages and menstrual problems.
The bark of Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis contains tannin. Additional compounds such as phenols, leucoanthocyanins, anthraquinones, terpenes, alkaloids and saponins have been detected in the bark and leaves of other Labourdonnaisia species, and it is likely that similar compounds also occur in Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis.
Small tree up to 10 m tall, with branches growing sympodially. Leaves arranged spirally, but clustered at the ends of branches, simple; petiole c. 2 cm long; blade oblong-oblanceolate, up to 12 cm × 4 cm, base cuneate, apex emarginate, margins strongly rolled back, leathery, both surfaces grey-waxy, midvein prominent, lateral veins numerous. Inflorescence an axillary fascicle at the end of branches. Flowers bisexual, regular; pedicel up to 18 mm long; calyx with 6 hairy sepals in 2 whorls of 3, persistent; corolla with a short tube 1.5 mm long and 10–11 lobes up to 4.5 mm long, lobes sometimes split at apex and margins sometimes with small teeth; stamens 10–11, inserted at the top of the corolla tube, filaments 2.5 mm long, anthers up to 2 mm long, staminodes 2–6, very short; ovary superior, hairy, 6– 10-celled, style narrowly conical. Fruit unknown, but probably a small fleshy 1-seeded berry (as in other Labourdonnaisia species).
Labourdonnaisia is a little known genus, comprising about 5–6 species, 3 of them in the Mascarenes and 2 or 3 in Madagascar. In non-taxonomic literature Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis has also been named Imbricaria madagascariensis.
Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis is found in humid evergreen coastal forest on sandy soils.
The harvested bark is dried and pulverized. The powder is put in boiling water, together with the fibres or textiles to be dyed. After 2 days of boiling, the red dyed fibres or textiles are taken out and dried in the sun. In another method part of the bark is broken into small pieces, which are tied together, and another part is pulverized. The pieces and the powder are put in a container with water. The container is heated until boiling in the morning and in the evening and this is repeated for up to 8 days until the dye bath has obtained the desired red colour. Then the bark pieces are taken out and replaced by the fibre or textiles. This mixture is heated again and when the fibre or textile has obtained the right colour it is taken out and dried. If necessary the same operation is repeated a second time.
Genetic resources and breeding
Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis is probably uncommon because only one herbarium collection is known. It deserves protection and germplasm conservation.
Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis is very poorly known. Only further research can enlighten its value as a dye and tannin source in Madagascar, and indicate whether stands of some importance still exist.
• Aubréville, A., 1974. Sapotaceae. Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, famille 164. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 128 pp.
• Decary, R., 1946. Plantes et animaux utiles de Madagascar. Annales du Musée Colonial de Marseille, 54e année, 6e série, 4e volume, 1er et dernier fascicule. 234 pp.
• Schatz, G.E., 2001. Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 477 pp.
• Friedmann, F., 1981. Sapotacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 111–120. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique Outre-Mer, Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 27 pp.
• Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2003. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2005. Labourdonnaisia madagascariensis Pierre ex Baill. In: Jansen, P.C.M. & Cardon, D. (Editors). PROTA 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.