PROTA homepage Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 2
Record display

Rinorea brachypetala (Turcz.) Kuntze

Revis. gen. pl. 1: 42 (1891).
Rinorea poggei Engl. (1902).
Origin and geographic distribution
Rinorea brachypetala is widespread in tropical Africa from Guinea east to Kenya, and south to Zambia and Angola.
The wood of Rinorea brachypetala is used in Kenya and Uganda for hut construction, walking sticks and knobkerries. In DR Congo it is used in construction and to make household utensils. Boiled leaves are eaten as a vegetable and the dried, powdered leaves are sniffed to relieve headache.
The wood is yellowish white, fine textured and medium-weight.
Shrub or small tree up to 6.5 m tall; bark greyish green; twigs hairy or glabrous. Leaves arranged spirally, simple and entire; stipules awl-shaped, c. 8 mm long, early caducous; petiole 0.5–5.5 cm long; blade obovate to oblong-elliptical or elliptical-oblanceolate, 6–23 cm × 3–10 cm, rounded to cuneate at base, acute or shortly acuminate at apex, nearly glabrous, pinnately veined with 6–10 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal, many-flowered thyrse up to 17 cm long, short-hairy. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, nodding, cream-coloured to greenish yellow; pedicel 1–2 mm long; sepals free, broadly ovate to oblong, 2–4 mm long, thick, usually short-hairy; petals free, oblong to obovate, 4–6 mm long, thick, tip strongly recurved; stamens c. 3.5 mm long, filaments fused into a ring, anthers with a large central appendage and 2 smaller lateral appendages; ovary superior, obovoid, glabrous, style 3–4 mm long, thickened upwards. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule 1–1.5 cm long, 3–6-seeded. Seeds angular, c. 6 mm × 5 mm.
Rinorea is a large pantropical genus of shrubs and small trees with about 340 species recognized at present, most of them occurring in Africa. Madagascar has about 20 species, nearly all endemic. For continental Africa a proper taxonomic study is long overdue. There are about 50 well-defined species in the Neotropics.
Rinorea arborea (Thouars) Baill. (synonym: Alsodeia arborea Thouars), called ‘ mkandaa-mwitu’ in Swahili, is found in coastal Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, as well as in Madagascar. The wood is used for hut building and to make tool handles. In Kenya a root decoction is drunk to cure stomach pain.
Rinorea aylmeri Chipp is restricted to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. The wood is used for walking sticks.
Rinorea ilicifolia (Oliv.) Kuntze, called ‘mkurute’ in Swahili, is widespread in tropical Africa from Guinea east to Kenya, and south to Angola and Mozambique. The hard and heavy wood is used in Uganda to make wooden hammers, tool handles and walking sticks. In West Africa decoctions of the whole plant are drunk to cure epilepsy. In Côte d’Ivoire sap of young leafy twigs is added to palm wine for its aphrodisiac properties. In Kenya the pulped root is steeped in water and the liquid is drunk to treat cough.
Rinorea kibbiensis Chipp, a shrub or small tree up to 7 m tall, is distributed from Côte d’Ivoire to Cameroon. The wood is used to make utensils and the twigs are used as toothbrush.
Rinorea oblongifolia (C.H.Wright) Marquand ex Chipp is one of the taller species of the genus, reaching 12 m tall and 30 cm in bole diameter. In DR Congo the wood is used in construction and for household utensils, and in Sierra Leone for spoons and combs. In the Central African Republic a root extract is drunk as a purgative.
The wood of Rinorea seleensis De Wild. and Rinorea subsessilis M.Brandt, both found in the Central African rainforest, is used for arrow shafts and house construction, respectively. The bark sap of the latter species is used to dye hair.
Rinorea brachypetala is found in the undergrowth of evergreen forest and gallery forest, but also in savanna. In East Africa it is found up to 1900 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Rinorea brachypetala is widespread and not intensively exploited. Therefore, it does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion.
In view of the small size of the bole, wood of Rinorea brachypetala and other Rinorea spp. is not of commercial interest, and use will remain restricted.
Major references
• Aubréville, A., 1959. La flore forestière de la Côte d’Ivoire. Deuxième édition révisée. Tome troisième. Publication No 15. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 334 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Grey-Wilson, C., 1986. Violaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 38 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Taton, A., 1969. Violaceae. In: Flore du Congo, du Ruanda et du Burundi. Spermatophytes. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. 78 pp.
Other references
• Bakker, F.T., van Gemerden, B.S. & Achoundong, G., 2006. Molecular systematics of African Rinorea Aub. (Violaceae). In: Ghazanfar, S.A. & Beentje, H.J. (Editors). Taxonomy and ecology of African plants, their conservation and sustainable use. Proceedings of the 17th Aetfat Congress Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 33–44.
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Bos, J.J., 1989. Clef des Violaceae ligneuses pour la partie occidentale de l’Afrique centrale. Bulletin du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, 4e série, section B, Adansonia 11(4): 461–468.
• Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
• Dale, I.R. & Greenway, P.J., 1961. Kenya trees and shrubs. Buchanan’s Kenya Estates Limited, Nairobi, Kenya. 654 pp.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Normand, D. & Paquis, J., 1976. Manuel d’identification des bois commerciaux. Tome 2. Afrique guinéo-congolaise. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 335 pp.
• Terashima, H. & Ichikawa, M., 2003. A comparative ethnobotany of the Mbuti and Efe hunter-gatherers in the Ituri forest, Democratic Republic of Congo. African Study Monographs 24(1–2): 1–168.
• Wahlert, G.A. & Ballard Jr, H.E., 2009. A new zygomorphic-flowered Rinorea (Violaceae) from the Neotropics. Novon 19: 416–420.
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

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
Associate editors
E.A. Obeng
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2011. Rinorea brachypetala (Turcz.) Kuntze. 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.
Distribution Map wild