Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Bull. Soc. Bot. France 54, Mém. 8: 15 (1907); Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 40: 37 (1907).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Platysepalum chevalieri occurs in the Central African Republic, Congo and DR Congo.
The wood is suitable for construction, flooring, vehicle bodies, furniture, cabinet work, handles, ladders, sporting goods, agricultural implements, sleepers, poles, piles, mine props, toys, novelties and turnery. In DR Congo a root decoction is taken to lose weight.
The heartwood is dark brown to almost black, and distinctly demarcated from the white sapwood. The grain is fairly straight, texture fine to medium and even. The wood is heavy, with a density of 810–900 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content, hard, and resistant to shock. The rates of shrinkage are high, and the wood must be dried slowly. Once dry, it is stable in service.
The wood works fairly easily, but polishing and varnishing are difficult. It is durable, and resistant to termite attack, but the sapwood is susceptible to attacks by Lyctus borers. The heartwood is extremely resistant to impregnation, the sapwood moderately resistant.
Shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 18 m tall; bole usually straight, up to 60 cm in diameter, without buttresses; twigs short-hairy, soon becoming glabrous. Leaves alternate, imparipinnately compound with 3(–4) pairs of leaflets, up to 40 cm long; stipules caducous; petiole and rachis grooved above, short hairy to glabrous; leaflets with needle-shaped, deciduous stipels and petiolules 2–5 mm long, oblong to elliptical or oblong-obovate, 7–15 cm × 3–6 cm, obtuse to slightly cuneate at base, short-acuminate at apex, thinly leathery, appressed short-hairy below, pinnately veined with 7–10 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary panicle up to 40 cm long, densely hairy, many-flowered. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous, with 2 bracteoles up to 2 mm long at base of calyx, caducous; pedicel 4–7 mm long; calyx 2-lipped with large hood-shaped upper lip up to 15 mm long and unequally 3-lobed lower lip up to 6 mm long; corolla whitish, with standard in bud covered by the upper lip of the calyx, wings and keel c. 12 mm long; stamens 10, 9 united and 1 free; ovary superior, linear, with short stipe, densely hairy, style curved. Fruit a linear-oblong pod 7–10 cm × 1–2 cm, flattened, with thickened margins, silky brownish hairy, 3– 5-seeded.
Platysepalum comprises about 8 species and is confined to tropical Africa.
Platysepalum chevalieri occurs in dense primary or secondary forest up to 600 m altitude, on dry to swampy soils.
Genetic resources and breeding
There is no reason to consider the little used Platysepalum chevalieri as threatened by genetic erosion, although it has a rather limited distribution area.
Platysepalum chevalieri is a good substitute for hickory (Carya spp.) as a source of wood for sporting equipment. However, the bole is usually too small-sized to make it attractive for commercial exploitation.
• 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.
• Hauman, L., Cronquist, A., Léonard, J., Schubert, B., Duvigneaud, P. & Dewit, J., 1954. Papilionaceae (deuxième 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 5. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. 377 pp.
• ILDIS, 2005. World database of Legumes, Version 10,01. International Legume Database & Information Service. [Internet] http://www.ildis.org/. Accessed September 2006.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2008. Platysepalum chevalieri Harms. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
wood in transverse section
wood in tangential section
wood in radial section