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Pericopsis angolensis (Baker) Meeuwen

Protologue
Bull. Jard. Bot. Etat 32(2): 216 (1962).
Family
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Chromosome number
2n = 18
Synonyms
Afrormosia angolensis (Baker) Harms (1913).
Vernacular names
East African afrormosia (En). Pau ferro, gambo, muanga (Po). Muvanga, mbanga (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pericopsis angolensis occurs from eastern DR Congo and Rwanda east to Tanzania, and south to Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Uses
In Malawi the extremely durable wood was highly esteemed for hoes and pestles, and for rims and hubs of wagon wheels. At present the wood is used for flooring and panelling, and it is also suitable for heavy construction, railway sleepers, mine props, ship building, vehicle bodies, fence poles, vats, interior trim, joinery, furniture, cabinet work, handles, ladders, agricultural implements, sporting goods, musical instruments, toys, novelties, precision equipment, carvings and turnery. In Zimbabwe Pericopsis angolensis is one of the most important trees for poles used in local house construction. It is also used as firewood; it is difficult to light, but produces great heat and little ash. It makes excellent charcoal.
In traditional medicine the roots, bark and leaves are commonly used. Root decoctions are used to stimulate the blood circulation, to treat diarrhoea, bronchial and chest complaints, nausea, and eye problems. They are considered tonic, abortifacient and aphrodisiac. Root powder is applied externally to relieve pain, and to treat oedema and tumours. Bark decoctions or macerations are taken to treat diarrhoea, sore throat and toothache, and as eye bath. Leaf sap is drunk as anthelmintic, whereas ground leaves are applied externally against headache or vapour of a leaf decoction is inhaled for this purpose.
Production and international trade
Pericopsis angolensis trees often occur too scattered or their boles are too small or poorly shaped for commercial exploitation, except in Mozambique, where they are locally of some importance for the timber market. The wood is traded in small amounts on the international timber market, either under the name ‘muwanga’, or mixed with the wood of Pericopsis elata (Harms) Meeuwen from West and Central Africa as ‘afrormosia’.
Properties
The heartwood is greenish brown, turning dark brown to almost black upon drying. It is distinctly demarcated from the whitish to yellowish grey, up to 2.5 cm wide sapwood. The grain is interlocked, texture moderately fine. The wood is strikingly banded or shows a whorled figure. It is oily to the touch.
The wood is heavy, with a density of 930–1030 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. The wood air dries very slowly but with little degrade, except slight surface checking. The rates of shrinkage are low, from green to oven dry 2.0% radial and 2.8% tangential. Once dry, the wood is moderately stable in service.
The wood is very hard. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 80–106 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 12,600–13,100 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 64–73 N/mm², shear 13–16 N/mm² and Janka side hardness 9070–12,230 N.
The wood is difficult to saw and work because of its high density. It is rather difficult to plane and a cutting angle of 20% is recommended, but it has a smooth finish. The wood holds nails and screws well, but pre-boring is necessary. Gluing, staining and polishing do not cause problems. The wood turns well. The bending properties are moderate. The wood is very durable and resistant to fungi, termites and all wood borers including marine borers. It is also highly resistant to abrasive action and chemicals. In Malawi, where the wood of Pericopsis angolensis is considered the most durable native wood, remains of hoes made from the wood have been found that were at least 90 years old.
Adulterations and substitutes
The wood of Pericopsis angolensis resembles that of Pericopsis elata, but is slightly heavier, darker and more durable. It has some resemblance to the wood of Baikiaea plurijuga Harms, which is a strong, durable wood used for similar purposes.
Description
Deciduous small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–27) m tall; bole branchless for up to 7.5 m, often curved or twisted, up to 100 cm in diameter; bark surface whitish grey to creamy brown, initially smooth but later irregularly fissured and flaking in thin pieces leaving red-brown patches, inner bark fibrous, yellowish, darkening rapidly on exposure; young twigs hairy but glabrescent. Leaves alternate, imparipinnately compound with 7–11(–13) leaflets; stipules spoon-shaped, 5–6 mm long, caducous; petiole and rachis together 10–21 cm long; stipels thread-like, 2–5 mm long, caducous; petiolules 2–4 mm long; leaflets alternate, sometimes nearly opposite, ovate to elliptical, (2–)3.5–6.5(–9.5) cm × (1.5–)2–3.5(–5) cm, cuneate to rounded at base, rounded to notched at apex, hairy to glabrous below, pinnately veined with 6–10 pairs of veins. Inflorescence a panicle up to 15 cm long at the end of a shoot, hairy; bracts up to 1.5 mm long, caducous. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous, whitish with purple veins to pink or purplish; pedicel 10–12 mm long, slender; calyx campanulate, 7–13 mm long, with lobes much longer than the tube, upper 2 lobes partly fused, hairy; corolla with nearly circular standard 13–15 mm in diameter, clawed, wing and keel petals c. 18 mm long; stamens 10, free, 8–14 mm long, glabrous; ovary superior, flattened, c. 9 mm long, hairy, style slender, upcurved. Fruit an oblong-linear, flattened pod 7–24 cm × 2–4 cm, shortly stiped, slightly winged along margins, pale brown, smooth, glabrous or sometimes hairy, reticulately veined, indehiscent, 1–4-seeded. Seeds disk-shaped, 12–15 mm in diameter, reddish.
Other botanical information
Pericopsis comprises 4 species, 3 of which occur in tropical Africa and 1 in tropical Asia. Pericopsis angolensis is variable in the hairiness of the leaves and fruits, and this has resulted in the distinction of infraspecific taxa.
Pericopsis laxiflora (Benth.) Meeuwen is a small savanna tree occurring from Senegal to Sudan that has been considered a subspecies of Pericopsis angolensis. Its wood is similar and can be used for the same purposes, but larger sizes are not available. Pericopsis laxiflora is more important as a medicinal plant.
Growth and development
In southern Africa Pericopsis angolensis trees flower from September to November, whereas fruits mature from April to May. The roots have nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Ecology
Pericopsis angolensis is locally common in deciduous, open or more or less closed woodland and wooded grassland up to 1650 m altitude. It is often found in miombo woodland, in association with Brachystegia, Combretum and Terminalia species. It has been reported that the occurrence of Pericopsis angolensis trees in Malawi is an indication of fairly fertile soil. The trees are fire resistant, but sensitive to frost.
Propagation and planting
In experiments in Tanzania, seedlings showed poor survival, usually less than 60%, but the cause remains unclear.
Management
In miombo woodland where Pericopsis angolensis is common, a system of coppicing is often applied. For firewood production, a coppice rotation of 5 years is possible, but for poles and certainly for larger sizes of timber much longer rotation cycles are needed. Pericopsis angolensis responds well to coppicing, although it often produces a large number of small shoots. In some areas, e.g. in Zambia, the trees are considered too hard to cut, and often left in the forest after cutting of other species.
Harvesting
The hardness of the wood is a serious drawback for felling using axes, and more modern equipment, including chainsaws, is preferred.
Genetic resources
Pericopsis angolensis is widespread and locally common, and not threatened. However, in several areas it has become vulnerable because of overexploitation, e.g. in Malawi where the boles are much collected for poles and firewood, and the roots and bark for local medicine. In these areas larger trees are difficult to find, whereas inferior trees predominate in the remaining populations.
Prospects
Pericopsis angolensis produces a highly valued timber. Its main constraint for larger-scale commercial exploitation is its small and often poorly shaped bole. There is still too little information on growth rates and appropriate management schedules to develop models for sustainable exploitation of poles and firewood through coppicing. Harvesting the bark and roots for medicinal purposes is often destructive for the trees, and the development and promotion of harvesting techniques that do not kill the trees are needed. Considering its wide use in traditional medicine, the scarcity of information on phytochemistry and pharmacological properties is astonishing.
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.
• Bryce, J.M., 1967. The commercial timbers of Tanzania. Tanzania Forest Division, Utilisation Section, Moshi, Tanzania. 139 pp.
• Coates Palgrave, O.H., 1957. Trees of Central Africa. National Publications Trust, Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. 466 pp.
• Coates Palgrave, K., 1983. Trees of southern Africa. 2nd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa. 959 pp.
• Gillett, J.B., Polhill, R.M., Verdcourt, B., Schubert, B.G., Milne-Redhead, E., & Brummitt, R.K., 1971. Leguminosae (Parts 3–4), subfamily Papilionoideae (1–2). In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 1108 pp.
• Takahashi, A., 1978. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan, 248 pp.
• Toussaint, L., Wilczek, R., Gillett, J.B. & Boutique, R., 1953. Papilionaceae (première partie). 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 4. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. 314 pp.
• Williamson, J., 1955. Useful plants of Nyasaland. The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland. 168 pp.
Other references
• Abbott, P.G. & Lowore, J.D., 1999. Characteristics and management potential of some indigenous firewood species in Malawi. Forest Ecology and Management 119: 111–121.
• Dietrichs, H.H. & Simatupang, M.H., 1974. Homopterocarpin in heartwood from Pericopsis angolensis. Holzforschung 28(5): 186.
• Fitzgerald, M.A., Gunning, P.J.M. & Donnelly, D.M.X., 1976. Phytochemical examination of Pericopsis species. Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 1: Organic and Bio-Organic Chemistry 1976(2): 186–191.
• Gelfand, M., Mavi, S., Drummond, R.B. & Ndemera, B., 1985. The traditional medical practitioner in Zimbabwe: his principles of practice and pharmacopoeia. Mambo Press, Gweru, Zimbabwe. 411 pp.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• van Wyk, B. & van Wyk, P., 1997. Field guide to trees of southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa. 536 pp.
• Vyamana, V.G., Chamshama, S.A.O. & Mugasha, A.G., 2007. Effect of nursery practices on seedling survival and growth of selected miombo tree species, Morogoro, Tanzania. Discovery and Innovation 19(1–2): 122–138.
Sources of illustration
• Coates Palgrave, O.H., 1957. Trees of Central Africa. National Publications Trust, Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. 466 pp.
• Gillett, J.B., Polhill, R.M., Verdcourt, B., Schubert, B.G., Milne-Redhead, E., & Brummitt, R.K., 1971. Leguminosae (Parts 3–4), subfamily Papilionoideae (1–2). In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 1108 pp.
Author(s)
A.U. Lumbile
Botswana College of Agriculture, Private Bag 0027, Gaborone, Botswana
O. Oagile
Botswana College of Agriculture, Private Bag 0027, Gaborone, Botswana


Editors
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
M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
J.R. Cobbinah
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:
Lumbile, A.U. & Oagile, O., 2008. Pericopsis angolensis (Baker) Meeuwen. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild


1, tree habit; 2, part of flowering twig; 3, fruits; 4, seed.
Redrawn and adapted by Iskak Syamsudin



leafy branch


inflorescence
obtained from
Zimbabweflora