Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 2
Mem. Mus. natl. Hist. nat., Paris n.s. 18: 247 (1944).
Origin and geographic distribution
Poupartia silvatica is endemic to western Madagascar, where it is widespread from the extreme north to the south.
The wood is sometimes used for construction, although it is not durable, and for knife handles. It is suitable for the production of veneer, plywood and particle board, and for panelling, light boxes and crates. The fruit pulp is occasionally eaten.
The wood is white to pale grey. The grain is straight, texture medium. The wood is lightweight, with a density of 320–500 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content, and soft. It air dries rapidly and the rates of shrinkage are moderate, from green to oven dry 2.4–3.8% radial and 4.5–7.2% tangential. Once dry, the wood is stable in service. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 49–110 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 5000–14,000 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 20–42 N/mm², cleavage 18–24 N/mm and Chalais-Meudon side hardness 0.5–1.7. The wood works easily and finishes well. It is not durable, although in tests it showed fair resistance to fungal attacks. It is quite easy to impregnate with preservatives.
Deciduous, dioecious, small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–30) m tall; bole usually straight, up to 60(–100) cm in diameter; bark surface greyish, cracking and scaly, inner bark reddish brown, with reddish exudate; young twigs short-hairy. Leaves arranged spirally, clustered near apex of twigs, imparipinnately compound with 5–11 leaflets; stipules absent; petiole and rachis flattened above; petiolules 5–12 mm long, but 2–4 cm long in terminal leaflet; leaflets opposite, ovate to lanceolate, 5–9.5 cm × 2.5–5 cm, asymmetrical at base, acute to acuminate at apex, glabrous, pinnately veined with 8–9 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary panicle or raceme up to 15 cm long, short-hairy. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous, whitish; pedicel up to 4 mm long; sepals free, up to 1 mm long, rounded; petals free, ovate, 2–3 mm long; stamens 10, free; disk thick, annular, slightly 10-lobed; ovary superior, spherical, 5-celled, with 5 sessile stigmas; male flowers with strongly rudimentary ovary, female flowers with rudimentary stamens. Fruit an ovoid drupe c. 2.5 cm × 2 cm, yellowish to orange when ripe, with fleshy pulp; stone hard and bony, with 3 opercules below the apex and with 5 irregular cavities, 1-seeded. Seed kidney-shaped, c. 1 cm in diameter. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Growth is rather slow. An annual growth rate of seedlings of 25 cm has been recorded. Poupartia silvatica usually flowers in September–December, but mainly at the beginning of the rainy season, and fruits mature a few months later, still in the rainy season.
Poupartia comprises about 7 species and is restricted to Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. It is closely related to Sclerocarya from continental Africa, which is sometimes even included in Poupartia.
Poupartia chapelieri (Guillaumin) H.Perrier is endemic to eastern Madagascar, where it is widespread from Antsiranana in the north to Taolañaro in the south, in humid, evergreen forest, from sea-level up to 1500(–1700) m altitude. It is an evergreen small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–30) m tall, with usually straight bole, up to 100 cm in diameter. The wood is used for the same purposes as that of Poupartia silvatica. The fruit pulp is sometimes eaten. Protium madagascariense Engl. (Burseraceae) closely resembles Poupartia chapelieri and the two species are often confused. Slashed bark of Protium madagascariense has a strong turpentine smell, which lacks in Poupartia chapelieri.
Poupartia orientalis Capuron ex A.Randrianasolo & J.S.Miller is an evergreen, small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall from eastern Madagascar south to Toamasina. It differs from Poupartia chapelieri in its flowers with longer pedicels and its fruit stone with 5 opercules (1–2 in Poupartia chapelieri). Its wood is probably similar and can be used for the same purposes.
Poupartia silvatica occurs in seasonally dry forest, from sea-level up to 800(–1200) m altitude. It is often found on calcareous soils.
Seeds can be collected around February below the trees. The germination rate is about 50%. The seed still showed fair germination rates after 2 years of storage. Fruits should be dried for 4–5 days before storage. Seedlings are ready for planting into the field after 12 months, but the survival rate is often low. They should be protected from wild pigs and be kept free from weeds.
Genetic resources and breeding
Poupartia silvatica is widespread in eastern Madagascar and locally common. It is not exploited selectively. Therefore, it does not seem to be under threat of genetic erosion at present.
Poupartia silvatica and other Poupartia spp. of Madagascar may have good prospects for veneer and plywood production, but although this has been suggested already decades ago, little research has been done until present. Tests on growth performance and propagation methods are warranted.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2009. Poupartia silvatica H.Perrier. 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.