Prota 14: Vegetable oils/Oléagineux
Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Paris 2: 1255 (1896).
Origin and geographic distribution
Panda oleosa occurs from Liberia east to the Central African Republic and DR Congo.
An oil is extracted from the seeds for domestic use in the kitchen. The seeds are eaten after cooking. In Gabon pounded seeds are added to sauces, soups and stews in the same way as fruit kernels of Irvingia gabonensis (Aubry-Lecomte ex O’Rorke) Baill. The wood is used for carpentry and canoes. Several plant parts are used in traditional medicine. The bark is used internally to treat abdominal troubles, threatened abortion, intestinal parasites and blennorrhoea, and as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic and aphrodisiac. It is applied externally to treat rheumatism, wounds, yaws, sores, whitlow, swellings and haemorrhoids. A root decoction is taken against bronchial affections. The seed oil is applied to ulcers, pounded roasted seeds to burns. A leaf infusion is used as an enema to treat dysmenorrhoea, and pounded leaves are rubbed on the body as a tonic. The nectar from the flowers is collected by honey bees.
Production and international trade
In Gabon seeds are sold on local markets.
Semi-dried seeds of Panda oleosa contain per 100 g: water 26.8 g, energy 2085 kJ (498 kcal), protein 15.3 g, fat 51.5 g, carbohydrate 3.3 g, Ca 85 mg, P 174 mg. Dried seeds contain per 100 g: water 4.8 g, energy 2315 kJ (553 kcal), protein 23.4 g, fat 45.2 g, carbohydrate 22.9 g, fibre 6.0 g, Ca 371 mg, P 523 mg (Leung, Busson & Jardin, 1968).
Seeds contain about 50% of oil on a dry matter basis. The fatty acid composition of the seed oil is: myristic acid 1%, palmitic acid 26%, stearic acid 6%, arachidic acid 0.5%, oleic acid 33.5% and linoleic acid 32.5%.
The wood is brownish yellow to pinkish red, with irregular grain and fine texture. It is moderately heavy, with a density of 645–670 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of elasticity is 11,760–14,210 N/mm2, compression parallel to grain 51–54 N/mm2, compression perpendicular to grain 3 N/mm2 and Chalais-Meudon side hardness 2.4–2.5.
In screening tests bark of Panda oleosa exhibited HIV-inhibitory activity. The flavonol constituent ent-4’- O-methylgallocatechin was isolated from the bark, but the anti-HIV activity was probably mainly produced by tannins.
Small to medium-sized, dioecious, evergreen tree up to 20(–35) m tall; bole cylindrical or sinuous, up to 80(–100) cm in diameter, often with short buttresses at base; bark surface greenish brown to dark brown specked greyish, inner bark rose-violet with dark purplish brown spots; crown dense, strongly branched; young twigs angular, glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules narrowly lanceolate, small, caducous; petiole 0.5–1.5 cm long, channelled above; blade elliptical to oblong-elliptical, 10–30 cm × 4–13 cm, cuneate to rounded at base, acuminate at apex, margins wavy to toothed, leathery, glabrous, pinnately veined with 4–7 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a raceme 15–35 cm long, solitary or in fascicles on older branches, shortly hairy. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 1.5–4 mm long, jointed; calyx cupule-shaped, c. 1 mm long, obscurely toothed; petals free, oblong-elliptical to lanceolate, c. 5 mm × 2 mm, red; male flowers with 10 stamens in 2 whorls unequal in length and rudimentary ovary; female flowers with superior, 3(–4)-celled ovary and a short style ending in 3(–4) long stigmas. Fruit a globose drupe 5–7 cm in diameter, yellowish green; pyrene with thick, woody, pitted wall, 3(–4)-seeded. Seeds triangular-ovoid, concave, c. 2 cm long, compressed, glossy brown. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl 12–20 cm long, epicotyl c. 3 cm, cotyledons broadly obtriangular, 6–8 cm broad, broadly notched at apex.
Panda oleosa grows slowly. In Gabon seedlings were 35–40 cm tall 15 months after germination. The base of the bole is often swollen and pitted, caused by elephant damage. Young leaves are vivid red-pink. Many trees produce fruits each year, and fruits may persist on the tree for several months. The fruits are commonly eaten by elephants, which disperse the seeds in their dung. However, germinating seeds are sometimes also found in areas without elephants. The fruit stone (pyrene) is hard to crack, but in West Africa chimpanzees use stones for cracking. It is sometimes also opened by squirrels.
Panda comprises a single species. Together with the African genera Centroplacus and Microdesmis and the Asian Galearia it is classified in the family Pandaceae.
Panda oleosa is usually un understorey tree in evergreen to semi-deciduous forest, usually in primary forest, in swampy as well as dry sites. It can also be found in riverine and periodically flooded forest.
Seeds germinate slowly, starting after 10 months to 4 years. Seedlings survive in the shade of the forest, but they are most common in openings in the forest canopy. In general, seedlings are not common in the forest, although older trees are gregarious in many areas. Sometimes large numbers of young seedlings have been observed around a mother tree, but survival rates are low. In Gabon the fruit stones are collected on the forest floor and the seeds are extracted after cutting open the hard wall with a chopping-knife, which is a dangerous task.
Genetic resources and breeding
Panda oleosa is fairly widespread and locally common, and there are no indications that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
The edible seeds of Panda oleosa and their oil are an interesting forest product in several countries. Domestication programmes are hindered by the slow germination and growth and therefore sustainable harvesting from the natural forest seems to offer the greatest opportunities. The difficulties in opening the hard fruit stone wall are a drawback in marketing the seeds.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2007. Panda oleosa Pierre In: van der Vossen, H.A.M. & Mkamilo, G.S. (Editors). PROTA 14: Vegetable oils/Oléagineux. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.