PROTA homepage Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Record display

Pseudocedrela kotschyi (Schweinf.) Harms

Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 22: 154 (1895).
Chromosome number
2n = 56
Vernacular names
Dry-zone cedar, hard cedar-mahogany (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pseudocedrela kotschyi is widespread in the savanna zone from Senegal east to western Ethiopia and Uganda.
The wood is valued for high-class joinery, furniture and cabinet making, and for construction. It resembles mahogany, but is heavier and harder. It is also used for doors, windows, frames, drums, barrels, canoes, mortars, bowls and gun-stocks. It is suitable for flooring, interior trim, ship building, vehicle bodies, toys, novelties, carvings, turnery, veneer and plywood. The wood is also used as firewood and for charcoal production.
Pseudocedrela kotschyi has numerous uses in traditional medicine, particularly its bark, roots and leaves. Bark decoctions or macerations are applied externally to ulcers, sores, rheumatism, leprosy, syphilis, yaws, itch, caries and gingivitis. Internally they are used to treat fever, stomach-ache, diarrhoea and dysentery, and as a diuretic and aphrodisiac. Root or root bark preparations are administered as powerful diuretic, to treat asthma, fever, dysentery, oedema, to facilitate childbirth, and are applied externally to ulcers, mastitis, haemorrhoids, fractures, rheumatism, caries and gingivitis, and as an aphrodisiac. In Uganda a tea made from root powder is drunk to treat liver cirrhosis. Pounded leafy twigs are rubbed in to treat headache and rheumatism, and a leaf decoction is applied as a compress to fractures, and is drunk and used in a bath against rash and oedema. Young stems and roots are commonly used as chewing sticks to keep the teeth healthy. In Nigeria the stem bark is used in mixtures to treat trypanosomiasis in livestock, and leaves are administered in veterinary medicine against intestinal worms. In Nigeria the bark is used as an ingredient of arrow poison, and in Côte d’Ivoire as a fish poison. The bark yields a brownish dye that has been used in West Africa for dyeing cloth. Pseudocedrela kotschyi is occasionally planted as an ornamental shade tree and roadside tree. In Nigeria the leaves are used as a green manure.
The heartwood is reddish brown and distinctly demarcated from the whitish to pale brown sapwood of varying width. The grain is interlocked, texture medium and even. The wood has an attractive figure, a faint smell and contains some gum.
The wood is moderately heavy, with a density of about 750 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It should be air dried carefully and slowly to prevent splitting and warping. The rates of shrinkage are rather high.
The wood saws and works well with hand and machine tools. It planes smoothly, and nails, screws and glues satisfactorily. The wood is fairly durable, but is susceptible to attack by Lyctus and longhorn beetles and slightly liable to termite attack.
The wood contains limonoids, including pseudrelones. Bark extracts showed in-vitro antibacterial activity, and anti-ulcer activity in rats. In tests the roots demonstrated broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. Dichloromethane extracts of the root showed antileishmanial activity. The extracts and the isolated compounds 7-deacetylgedunin and 7-deacetyl-7-oxogedunin exhibited in-vitro activity against Leishmania donovani, Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, Trypanosoma cruzi and Plasmodium falciparum, with low cytotoxic activity against the L-6 cell line. The limonoid 7-deacetoxy-7-hydroxy-gedunin, isolated from Pseudocedrela kotschyi, showed anti-HIV activity. Extracts of Pseudocedrela kotschyi inhibited lymphocyte proliferation and exhibited molluscicidal activity. Crude ethanol extracts of the leaves showed distinct anthelmintic activity against Haemonchus contortus, a pathogenic nematode in small ruminants. Extracts of Pseudocedrela kotschyi also showed activity against Ascaris suum. The application of root juice can lead to severe skin necrosis, and care should be taken when it is applied to e.g. ulcers.
The essential oils from the stem and root bark are exclusively composed of sesquiterpenoids. δ-cadinene was the main constituent (31%) in the oil from the stem bark, cubebols in that from the root bark. The antioxidant and antiradical activities of the essential oils were found to be low.
Deciduous, monoecious, small tree up to 12(–20) m tall; bole branchless for up to 7.5 m, straight and cylindrical, up to 70 cm in diameter; bark surface grey, longitudinally fissured, inner bark with reddish veins; crown oblong to pyramid-shaped, usually dense; young twigs short-hairy. Leaves alternate but often clustered at the ends of branchlets, paripinnately compound with 8–18 leaflets; stipules absent; petiole and rachis together up to 30(–40) cm long; petiolules 1–3 mm long; leaflets alternate to nearly opposite, lanceolate-elliptical, 5–15 cm × 2–6 cm, rounded and asymmetrical at base, obtuse at apex, margins irregularly wavy or toothed with rounded teeth, densely hairy when young, pinnately veined. Inflorescence an axillary panicle up to 30 cm long, often several together, short-hairy. Flowers unisexual, male and female flowers very similar in appearance, regular, (4–)5-merous, whitish; pedicel 2–4 mm long; calyx lobed almost to the base, c. 1.5 mm long; petals free, boat-shaped, 3.5–5 mm long, spreading; stamens fused into an urn-shaped tube c. 3 mm long, with (8–)10 lobes, each lobe 2-fid and with a sessile anther; ovary superior, 4–5-celled, style-head disk-shaped; male flowers with rudimentary ovary, female flowers with non-dehiscing anthers. Fruit a narrowly obovoid to club-shaped capsule 7–14.5 cm long, erect, brown, dehiscing with 5 woody valves, with fibres between the valves, many-seeded. Seeds 4–6 cm long, pale brown, winged at apex.
Other botanical information
Pseudocedrela comprises a single species, and is characterized by its wavy-toothed leaflets and erect fruits.
Wood-anatomical description (IAWA hardwood codes):
Growth rings: 1: growth ring boundaries distinct. Vessels: 5: wood diffuse-porous; 13: simple perforation plates; 22: intervessel pits alternate; 23: shape of alternate pits polygonal; 24: intervessel pits minute ( 4 μm); 30: vessel-ray pits with distinct borders; similar to intervessel pits in size and shape throughout the ray cell; 42: mean tangential diameter of vessel lumina 100–200 μm; 46: 5 vessels per square millimetre; 47: 5–20 vessels per square millimetre; 58: gums and other deposits in heartwood vessels. Tracheids and fibres: 61: fibres with simple to minutely bordered pits; 65: septate fibres present; 66: non-septate fibres present; 69: fibres thin- to thick-walled. Axial parenchyma: 76: axial parenchyma diffuse; 78: axial parenchyma scanty paratracheal; 79: axial parenchyma vasicentric; (85: axial parenchyma bands more than three cells wide); (86: axial parenchyma in narrow bands or lines up to three cells wide); 89: axial parenchyma in marginal or in seemingly marginal bands; 93: eight (5–8) cells per parenchyma strand. Rays: 98: larger rays commonly 4- to 10-seriate; (104: all ray cells procumbent); 106: body ray cells procumbent with one row of upright and/or square marginal cells; 115: 4–12 rays per mm. Storied structure: 122: rays and/or axial elements irregularly storied. Mineral inclusions: 136: prismatic crystals present; 137: prismatic crystals in upright and/or square ray cells; (141: prismatic crystals in non-chambered axial parenchyma cells).
(E. Uetimane, H. Beeckman & P.E. Gasson)
Growth and development
In Benin the mean annual growth in diameter is estimated at 7,5 mm. Trees flower in the middle of the dry season. Fruits take almost one year to ripen. The seeds are dispersed by wind.
Pseudocedrela kotschyi occurs in savanna woodland and woody grassland, up to 1200 m altitude, on heavy and poorly drained soils. Trees are often subject to fire, but are very resistant and survive annual fire for over 50 years, as shown in a long-term experiment in central Côte d’Ivoire. In Uganda it has been observed that there is often profuse regeneration in the rainy season, and it has been suggested that the fires of the dry season improve the germination of the seeds. On the other hand, it has also been reported that seed is destroyed by fire and that regeneration in localities that are subject to regular fire is limited to root suckers.
Propagation and planting
The 1000-seed weight is about 230 g. The seeds lose viability rapidly, and should be sown soon after collection. Immersion in hot water and soaking for one night improve the germination results. The seeds can be stored for up to 2 months in sealed containers in a cool place. They are easily attacked by insects and it is recommended that ash is added when they are stored. Seedlings have a long taproot, making transplanting difficult. The plant develops root suckers, by which it can spread fairly well, resulting in clumps of trees.
In Uganda Pseudocedrela kotschyi is grown in pure stands or mixed with other trees such as mango and cashew nut. The tree can be managed by coppicing and pollarding. In natural stands, the bole is often low-branching and stunted because of fire damage, and this has great influence on the timber quality and quantity.
For sustainable exploitation in northern Benin, a minimum felling diameter of 55 cm is required.
Genetic resources
Pseudocedrela kotschyi is widespread and locally common or even gregarious. However, it is irregularly distributed and in some regions within its distribution area uncommon or even absent.
Pseudocedrela kotschyi is an important savanna tree, providing not only timber, but also firewood and shade; it is also an important source of ingredients for local medicine. Some protection from fire is needed to allow the trees to develop straight, high-branching boles, which then produce timber of excellent quality. Uncontrolled collection of the bark and roots for medicinal purposes may locally threaten populations, and methods of collection that have no adverse effects should be developed. Preliminary screening for pharmacological activities for the development of modern plant-based drugs showed promising results.
Major references
• Arbonnier, M., 2004. Trees, shrubs and lianas of West African dry zones. CIRAD, Margraf Publishers Gmbh, MNHN, Paris, France. 573 pp.
• 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.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Katende, A.B., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 1995. Useful trees and shrubs for Uganda: identification, propagation and management for agricultural and pastoral communities. Technical Handbook 10. Regional Soil Conservation Unit, Nairobi, Kenya. 710 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1996. African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs. Chapman & Hall, London, United Kingdom. 941 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• SEPASAL, 2007. Pseudocedrela kotschyi. [Internet] Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. sepasalweb/ sepaweb. Accessed December 2007.
• Styles, B.T. & White, F., 1991. Meliaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 68 pp.
Other references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Adjakidjè, V., Ahyi, M.R.A., Aké Assi, L., Akoègninou, A., d’Almeida, J., Apovo, F., Boukef, K., Chadare, M., Cusset, G., Dramane, K., Eyme, J., Gassita, J.N., Gbaguidi, N., Goudote, E., Guinko, S., Houngnon, P., Lo, I., Keita, A., Kiniffo, H.V., Kone-Bamba, D., Musampa Nseyya, A., Saadou, M., Sodogandji, T., De Souza, S., Tchabi, A., Zinsou Dossa, C. & Zohoun, T., 1989. Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Bénin. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 895 pp.
• Ahua, K.M., Ioset, J.-R., Ioset, K.N., Diallo, D., Mauël, J. & Hostettmann, K., 2007. Antileishmanial activities associated with plants used in the Malian traditional medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 110: 99–104.
• Akah, P.A., Nwafor, S.V., Okoli, C.O. & Orji, U.I., 2001. Evaluation of the antiulcer properties of Pseudocedrela kotschyi stem bark extract. Discovery and Innovation 13(3/4): 132–135.
• Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
• Aubréville, A., 1950. Flore forestière soudano-guinéenne. Société d’Editions Géographiques, Maritimes et Coloniales, Paris, France. 533 pp.
• Aubréville, A., 1959. La flore forestière de la Côte d’Ivoire. Deuxième édition révisée. Tome deuxième. Publication No 15. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 341 pp.
• Boyom, F.F., Fotio, D., Zollo, P.H.A., Agnaniet, H., Menut, C. & Bessière, J.M., 2004. Aromatic plants of tropical Central Africa. Part XLIV. Volatile components from Pseudocedrela kotschyi (Schweinf.) Harms growing in Cameroon. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 19(1): 9–11.
• Emaruk, E. & Deogracious, O., 2006. Ascaricidal activity of some medicinal plants used by the Karimojong: a nomadic pastoralist community in Uganda. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances 5(9): 724–728.
• Geerling, C., 1982. Guide de terrain des ligneux Sahéliens et Soudano-Guinéens. Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 82–3. Wageningen, Netherlands. 340 pp.
• Hay, A.E., Ioset, J.R., Ahua, K.M., Diallo, D., Brun, R. & Hostettmann, K., 2007. Limonoid orthoacetates and antiprotozoal compounds from the roots of Pseudocedrela kotschyi. Journal of Natural Products 70(1): 9–13.
• InsideWood, undated. [Internet] Accessed May 2007.
• Koné, W.M., Atindehou, K.K., Terreaux, C., Hostettmann, K., Traoré, D. & Dosso, M., 2004. Traditional medicine in North Côte d'Ivoire: screening of 50 medicinal plants for antibacterial activity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 93(1): 43–49.
• Koné, W.M., Kamanzi, A.K., Traoré, D. & Bruno, B., 2005. Anthelmintic activity of medicinal plants used in northern Côte d’Ivoire against intestinal helminthiasis. Pharmaceutical Biology 43(1): 72–78.
• Kpakote, K.G., Akpagana, K., De Souza, C., Nenonene, A.Y., Djagba, T.D. & Bouchet, P., 1998. Les propriétés anti-microbiennes de quelques espèces à cure-dents du Togo. Annales Pharmaceutiques Françaises 56(4): 184–186.
• Louppe, D., Ouattara, N. & Coulibaly, A., 1995. Effets des feux de brousse sur la végétation. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 245: 59–69.
• Nacoulma-Ouédraogo, O. & Millogo-Rasolodimby, J., 2002. Les frotte-dents comme produits cosmétiques et médicinaux au Burkina Faso. Etudes de la flore et la végétation de Burkina Faso 7: 49–54.
• Sokpon, N., Biaou, S.H., Ouinsavi, C. & Hunhyet, O., 2006. Bases techniques pour une gestion durable des forêts claires du Nord-Bénin: rotation, diamètre minimal d’exploitabilité et régéneration. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 287: 45–57.
• Staner, P. & Gilbert, G., 1958. Meliaceae. 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 7. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 147–213.
• Styles, B.T. & White, F., 1989. Meliaceae. In: Hedberg, I. & Edwards, S. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia. Volume 3. Pittosporaceae to Araliaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 479–489.
• Tabuti, J.R.S., Lye, K.A. & Dhillion, S.S., 2003. Traditional herbal drugs of Bulamogi, Uganda: plants, use and administration. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 88: 19–44.
• Takahashi, A., 1978. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan, 248 pp.
Sources of illustration
• Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
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
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:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2008. Pseudocedrela kotschyi (Schweinf.) Harms. 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, flowering branch; 2, male flower; 3, dehisced fruit.
Source: Flore analytique du Bénin

tree habitq

tree habit


fruiting branch

opened fruits

wood in transverse section

wood in tangential section

wood in radial section