Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Dyer, Fl. trop. Afr. 4(1): 99 (1902).
Pleiocarpa flavescens Stapf (1902), Pleiocarpa micrantha Stapf (1902).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pleiocarpa pycnantha is widespread from Senegal east to Kenya, and south to Angola and Mozambique.
The wood is used for local construction, combs, plane-blocks, implement handles and pestles, and also for carving, e.g. to make pipe-stems in Uganda. Ground roots mixed with seeds of Aframomum melegueta K.Schum. and palm wine are taken as a laxative. In Benin a leaf maceration with lemon juice is administered to patients suffering from jaundice, oedema, reduced urine excretion and infection by roundworms.
The wood is yellow to brown, hard and durable. Some indole alkaloids have been isolated from Pleiocarpa pycnantha roots and bark, e.g. pycnanthine, pleiocarpamine, quebrachamine and macusine B.
Shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–30) m tall; bole up to 50 cm in diameter; bark smooth to fissured or reticulately cracked, grey to reddish brown. Leaves opposite or in whorls of 3–5, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 5–20 mm long; blade narrowly elliptical to oblong, 4–22 cm × 1–8 cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex obtuse to acute or acuminate, glabrous, pinnately veined with 15–25 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary cluster, 1–2 cm × 1–3 cm, 10–30(–40)-flowered; bracts very small. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, very fragrant to bad-smelling; pedicel 1–3 mm long; sepals ovate or elliptical, 1–2.5(–3) mm long, free or connate at base, apex acute to rounded; corolla tube almost cylindrical, 6–10 mm × 0.5–2 mm, with a belt of hairs 1–3 mm wide inside just below the insertion of the stamens, lobes ovate to almost orbicular, 1.5–4.5(–5) mm long, apex rounded to acute, spreading, recurved later, white to yellow-orange; stamens inserted just below the top of the corolla tube, included, 1–2 mm long, anthers ovate, yellow; ovary superior, ovoid to globose, consisting of 2 separate carpels united at base by a disk-like thickening, style 4–8 mm long, pistil head ellipsoid to ovoid, 0.2–1 mm long. Fruit consisting of 2 globose to ellipsoid follicles 13–23(–30) mm long, apex pointed to rounded, yellow to orange, smooth to slightly rough, 2-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid to oblong, 6.5–13.5 mm long, brown.
Pleiocarpa comprises about 5 species and is confined to mainland tropical Africa. It is related to Hunteria and Picralima.
Pleiocarpa pycnantha can be found flowering and fruiting throughout the year.
Pleiocarpa pycnantha occurs in the understorey of rainforest, gallery forest and montane forest, up to 2300 m altitude. It can also be found in disturbed forest.
Genetic resources and breeding
As Pleiocarpa pycnantha is widespread and occurs in various forest types, there is no reason to consider it threatened by genetic erosion.
It is unlikely that Pleiocarpa pycnantha will become an economically important timber tree in the future because its size is usually too small. However, its hard and durable wood will remain useful for the construction of local houses and the production of implements, as long as natural stands of sufficient volume are available.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2006. Pleiocarpa pycnantha (K.Schum.) Stapf. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.