Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Novon 5(2): 179 (1995).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Millettia richardiana is endemic to western Madagascar, where it is widespread from Antsiranana in the north to Toliara in the south.
The wood is locally used for furniture, posts in house building, implements and handles.
The wood is whitish, strong and flexible, but not very hard.
Deciduous shrub or small tree up to 15(–20) m tall; bole up to 30 cm in diameter; bark surface crumbly fissured, pale grey-brown; twigs silky hairy, glabrescent. Leaves alternate, imparipinnately compound with 4–12 pairs of leaflets; stipules absent; petiole and rachis yellowish velvety hairy; stipels absent; petiolules up to 3 mm long; leaflets opposite, oblong to elliptical, 1.5–4(–6.5) cm × 0.5–1.5(–3) cm, obtuse to rounded at apex, slightly hairy or glabrous above, yellowish hairy below. Inflorescence a 2–4-flowered fascicle at the base of very young shoots; peduncle 1–5 mm long. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous; pedicel up to 3.5 cm long, with 2 threadlike bracteoles near apex; calyx campanulate, 4–6 mm long, tube slightly longer than lobes; corolla pale purple, standard orbicular, 12–16 mm in diameter, with greenish yellow spot at base, slightly hairy, wings and keel slightly shorter; stamens 10, fused in basal part; ovary superior, hairy, style slender, curved, glabrous. Fruit an oblong to obovate, flat pod 5–10.5 cm × 1.5–2.5 cm, with short beak at apex, densely yellowish velvety hairy, dehiscent with 2 woody, recurving valves, 1–2(–5)-seeded. Seeds rectangular-ellipsoid, flattened, 9–12 mm × 7–10 mm, dark brown, with small aril.
Trees usually flower from August–December, at the end of the dry season and beginning of the rainy season, on new shoots emerging from the buds with leaves still very immature.
Millettia comprises about 150 species, most of them (about 90) in mainland Africa, 8 endemic to Madagascar, and about 50 in tropical Asia. It is in need of revision and should be split into several genera based on molecular evidence.
Two other Millettia species in Madagascar are sources of timber for local use. Millettia aurea (R.Vig.) Du Puy & Labat is a shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall; its stems are used for fences and cattle enclosures. It is an endangered species of western Madagascar. Millettia hitsika Du Puy & Labat is an endangered shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall occurring in the coastal plain near Ambila-Lemaitso in eastern Madagascar. Its wood is used in construction. Both these species are classified as endangered in the IUCN Red list of threatened species.
Millettia richardiana occurs in deciduous woodland up to 300 m altitude, on calcareous and sandy soils.
Genetic resources and breeding
Millettia richardiana is not under threat of genetic erosion because it is widespread and locally common in western Madagascar.
Millettia richardiana will remain of local importance for its wood, but is not of interest to the international market because of its usually small bole size.
• 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. Millettia aurea. In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed May 2007.
• du Puy, D. & Labat, H., 1998. Millettia hitsika. In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed May 2007.
• Labat, J.N. & du Puy, D.J., 1995. New species and combinations in Millettia Wight & Arnott and Pongamiopsis R. Viguier (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae - Millettieae) from Madagascar. Novon 5(2): 171–182.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2008. Millettia richardiana (Baill.) Du Puy & Labat. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.