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Paramacrolobium coeruleum (Taub.) J.Léonard

Protologue
Bull. Jard. Bot. Etat 24(4): 348 (1954).
Family
Caesalpiniaceae (Leguminosae - Caesalpinioideae)
Chromosome number
2n = 24
Synonyms
Macrolobium coeruleoides De Wild. (1907), Macrolobium coeruleum (Taub.) Harms (1915), Macrolobium dawei Hutch. & Dalziel (1928).
Vernacular names
Mkwe (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Paramacrolobium coeruleum is widespread, from Guinea east to Kenya and south to DR Congo, Tanzania and northern Angola. However, the distribution area is notably discontinuous.
Uses
In DR Congo the wood is used for joinery, doors, frames of doors, furniture, railway sleepers and gongs. It is suitable for heavy flooring, interior trim, toys, novelties, turnery, carving, veneer and plywood. Paramacrolobium coeruleum has been used as shade tree in cocoa plantations in Sierra Leone. In Kenya the bark is used as rough fibre. The seeds are used in games.
Properties
The heartwood is pale brown to yellowish brown or pinkish brown with darker brown streaks on quarter-sawn surfaces, and usually indistinctly demarcated from the sapwood. The grain is straight to interlocked, texture moderately coarse and even. The wood is moderately heavy, with a density of about 700 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content, and is moderately hard. The rates of shrinkage during drying are high and the wood may develop severe surface splits and cupping, whereas it is susceptible to blue stain attack during drying. The wood saws and works well, is easy to plane and takes a good finish. The gluing and bending properties are satisfactory. The wood is moderately durable, being liable to termite, Lyctus and marine borer attacks.
Several long-chain fatty acids have been isolated from root bark extracts; these acetylenic acids showed inhibitory activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, the enzyme responsible for the formation of mevalonate in the rate-determining step of cholesterol biosynthesis.
Botany
Evergreen, medium-sized to fairly large tree up to 35(–40) m tall; bole branchless for up to 20 m but often low-branching, straight and cylindrical or irregular, up to 90(–100) cm in diameter, with buttresses; bark surface nearly smooth, but with fine longitudinal grooves and lenticels, becoming flaky, grey-brown, inner bark fibrous, brownish to reddish; crown often long and narrow, often with drooping branches; twigs usually glabrous, with lenticels. Leaves alternate, paripinnately compound with 2–5 pairs of leaflets; stipules fused, up to 1.5 cm long, clasping the twigs, persistent; petiole and rachis together 5–22 cm long, grooved; petiolules 1–4 mm long, twisted; leaflets opposite, elliptical to oblong or lanceolate, 2–15 cm × 1–6 cm, asymmetrical at base, acuminate at apex, thinly leathery, glabrous, pinnately veined with 10–15 pairs of indistinct lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal, flat-topped panicle 4–8 cm long, usually glabrous. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, with 2 bracteoles up to 3.5 cm long at base; pedicel 1.5–3 cm long; sepals 4, 1–1.5 cm long, 1 broader than the other 3 and 2-toothed; petals 5, free, unequal, bluish, upper one largest, up to 4.5 cm × 2.5 cm, lateral 2 up to 3 cm × 2.5 mm, lower 2 minute; stamens 9, fused at base, usually 3 fertile, large, up to 3.5 cm long and 6 rudimentary; ovary superior, linear, 1–1.5 cm long, hairy, with long stipe, 1-celled, style 2–2.5 cm long. Fruit an oblong, flattened pod 8.5–20 cm × 2.5–6 cm, glabrous, dehiscing with 2 spiralling woody valves, 3–8-seeded. Seeds rectangular, flattened, 1.5–2.5 cm × 1–2 cm, glossy dark brown, seed coat hard. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl 5–12 cm long, epicotyl 4–7 cm long; first 2 leaves opposite, with 2–3 pairs of leaflets.
In the nursery seedlings are about 30 cm tall after 4 months and 60 cm tall after 15 months. In Guinea 6-years-old saplings showed a mean annual height growth of 85–130 cm, but in DR Congo planted trees were only 4.5 m tall after 11 years and had a high mortality. Fruits are eaten by monkeys and large rodents, which may serve as seed dispersers.
Paramacrolobium comprises a single species and seems to be related to Cryptosepalum.
Ecology
Paramacrolobium coeruleum occurs in lowland rainforest up to 450 m altitude, but also in gallery forest in savanna areas and in wooded savanna.
Management
Seeds can be stored for at least 18 months, when the viability is still about 40%. Pre-treatment of seeds is not needed, but soaking in cold water for 1–2 days or in boiling water for a few minutes accelerates germination. Seedlings should be planted out in the full sun and in fertile soils to obtain good growth. They are planted at a spacing of 3 m × 3 m in pure stands or together with other moderately fast growing timber species.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Paramacrolobium coeruleum occupies a large distribution area, it is absent in large regions within that area and thus shows a disjunct distribution pattern. It is common in many regions, and there is no reason to consider it threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
Paramacrolobium coeruleum will remain a locally important timber tree, but it is unlikely that it will gain importance for commercial exploitation because in areas where it is common the logs are usually too small and too poorly shaped. However, surprisingly little is known about this widespread tree that may have prospects in agroforestry systems or as timber tree in plantations. Research on propagation and growth rates is recommended.
Major references
• Bolza, E. & Keating, W.G., 1972. African timbers: the properties, uses and characteristics of 700 species. Division of Building Research, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. 710 pp.
• Brenan, J.P.M., 1967. Leguminosae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 230 pp.
• Chikamai, B.N., Githiomi, J.K., Gachathi, F.N. & Njenga, M.G., undated. Commercial timber resources of Kenya. Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Nairobi, Kenya. 164 pp.
• Patil, A.D., Chan, J.A., Lois-Flamberg, P., Mayer, R.J. & Westley, J.W., 1989. Novel acetylenic acids from the root bark of Paramacrolobium caeruleum: inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl glutaryl coenzyme A reductase. Journal of Natural Products 52(1): 153–161.
• Savill, P.S. & Fox, J.E.D., 1967. Trees of Sierra Leone. Forest Department, Freetown, Sierra Leone. 316 pp.
Other references
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 1995. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Families J–L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 857 pp.
• Gilbert, G. & Bellefontaine, R., 1973. Catalogue des arbres et arbustes introduits au Burundi. Symposium forestier 1973. ISABU, Bujumbura, Burundi. 293 pp.
• Hawthorne, W. & Jongkind, C., 2006. Woody plants of western African forests: a guide to the forest trees, shrubs and lianes from Senegal to Ghana. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 1023 pp.
• Hubert, D., undated. Sylviculture des essences de forets denses humides d’Afrique de l’Ouest. 187 pp.
• Lewis, G., Schrire, B., MacKinder, B. & Lock, M., 2005. Legumes of the world. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 577 pp.
• Normand, D. & Paquis, J., 1976. Manuel d’identification des bois commerciaux. Tome 2. Afrique guinéo-congolaise. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 335 pp.
• Pauwels, L., 1993. Nzayilu N’ti: guide des arbres et arbustes de la région de Kinshasa Brazzaville. Scripta Botanica Belgica. Volume 4. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise, Belgium. 495 pp.
• Wilczek, R., Léonard, J., Hauman, L., Hoyle, A.C., Steyaert, R., Gilbert, G. & Boutique, R., 1952. Caesalpiniaceae. 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 3. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 234–554.
• Wimbush, S.H., 1957. Catalogue of Kenya timbers. 2nd reprint. Government Printer, Nairobi, Kenya. 74 pp.
Author(s)
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
D. Louppe
CIRAD, Département Environnements et Sociétés, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bât. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
Associate editors
E.A. Obeng
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
Photo editor
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2010. Paramacrolobium coeruleum (Taub.) J.Léonard. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Louppe, D. & Oteng-Amoako, A.A. (Editors). Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.

















































Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


Paramacrolobium coeruleum


wood in transverse section


wood in tangential section