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Stadmannia oppositifolia Lam.

Tab. encycl. 2(2): 443 (1793).
Vernacular names
Iron-wood, Bourbon iron-wood, silky plum (En). Bois de fer, bois de fer de Maurice, bois de fer de Bourbon (Fr). Mfundu (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Stadmannia oppositifolia is native to Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, northern South Africa, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius.
In Madagascar the wood, traded as ‘elatrangidina’, is used for house construction, boats, furniture and carving. It is valued for punt poles. It is suitable for heavy flooring, carpentry, planks and bridge covering. The wood yields a good charcoal. In Mauritius bark decoctions are used to alleviate fever, and as an astringent and depurative.
The wood of Stadmannia oppositifolia is pinkish to pale red, hard and tough. It is heavy, with a density of 890–1020 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It dries fairly well. The rates of shrinkage are quite high, from green to 12% moisture content 5.6–7.1% radial and 7.9–10.3% tangential.
At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 174–237 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 9300–14,600 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 72–88 N/mm² and Chalais-Meudon side hardness 7.5–11.4. The wood is fairly easy to work. It is moderately durable to very durable.
The bark is rich in saponin. Stems and leaves contain phenols, flavonoids, flavans, saponosides and tannins.
Monoecious small tree up to 10(–30) m tall; bark surface smooth, finely fissured, flaking, yellow to brown, often mottled, inner bark pinkish; twigs rusty or tawny hairy, becoming glabrous. Leaves alternate, paripinnately compound with (1–)2–4 pairs of leaflets; stipules absent; petiole 3–7 cm long, rachis 4–20 cm long; petiolules 1–7 mm long; leaflets opposite, elliptical, 4–15 cm × 2.5–6.5 cm, lowest pair smallest, asymmetrically cuneate at base, rounded or notched at apex, margins entire, thick leathery, glabrous apart from the midrib, pinnately veined with 10–16 pairs of indistinct lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary, false raceme 4–12 cm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, yellow, scented; pedicel 2–3 mm long, elongating up to 5 mm in fruit; calyx cup-shaped, c. 0.5 mm long, shallowly 5-lobed; petals absent; stamens 8, free, hairy or glabrous; ovary superior, hairy, 3-lobed and 3-celled, style short, thick, 3-furrowed; male flowers with rudimentary ovary, female flowers with reduced stamens. Fruit an ovoid capsule 1–2 cm in diameter, golden yellow when ripe, shortly soft-hairy, dehiscing, 1-seeded, 2 abortive carpels remaining attached. Seed globose or ovoid, c. 1 cm in diameter, chestnut brown, with red aril nearly completely covering the seed.
Stadmannia comprises 6 species, 5 of which are endemic to Madagascar. Two subspecies have been distinguished in Stadmannia oppositifolia. Subsp. rhodesica Exell is confined to Zimbabwe and northern South Africa, and distinguished by its smaller leaflets. All other Stadmannia species in Madagascar are medium-sized trees up to 30(–35) m tall and yield appreciated timber used for similar purposes as that of Stadmannia oppositifolia. Most important are Stadmannia acuminata Capuron and Stadmannia leandrii Capuron. Additionally, the fresh leaves of Stadmannia glauca Capuron are mashed and eaten or taken in infusion to improve vision, especially night vision.
In East Africa Stadmannia oppositifolia is restricted to dry evergreen forest and coastal bushland at about sea-level. In Madagascar it is found in evergreen forest up to 1700 m altitude, in Zimbabwe up to 1000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although fairly widespread, Stadmannia oppositifolia is apparently rare in many parts of its range, and in Réunion it has become extinct. Monitoring of populations is recommended.
In Mauritius Stadmannia oppositifolia is considered one of the species that could well be planted for timber production. However, much research is still needed, for instance on growth rates, propagation and ecological requirements.
Major references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Davies, F.G. & Verdcourt, B., 1998. Sapindaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 108 pp.
• Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2004. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
• Parant, B., Chichignoud, M. & Rakotovao, G., 1985. Présentation graphique des caractères technologiques des principaux bois tropicaux. Tome 5. Bois de Madagascar. CIRAD, Montpellier, France et Département des Recherches forestières et piscicoles du FOFIFA, Antananarivo, Madagascar. 162 pp.
Other references
• Bärner, J. & Müller, J.F., 1942. Die Nutzhölzer der Welt. Volume 2. Neumann, Neudamm, Germany. 780 pp.
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Exell, A.W. & Sousa, E.P., 1973. Sapindaceae. In: Fernandes, A. (Editor). Flora de Moçambique. No 51. Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, Lisbon, Portugal. 45 pp.
• Friedmann, F., 1997. Sapindacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 69–79. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM), Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 23 pp.
• Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1997. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 3. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 471 pp.
• Lebigre, J.M. & Petignat, H., 1997. Répertoire des plantes du Sud-Ouest de Madagascar. Feuillets Dymset No. 1. Bordeaux, France. 38 pp.
• Rajaonarivelo, S., 2000. Exploitation forestière et pratique paysanne: le cas de l’activité charbonnière dans le fourre xerophile de la region cotière d’Ifaty (Sud Ouest malgache). Mémoire de Maîtrise, Département de géographie, Facultés des Lettres et des Sciences humaines, Université de Maninday, Toliara, Madagascar. 115 pp.
• Ruhomaun, K., 2003. State of forest and tree genetic resources in Mauritius. Forest Genetic Resources Working Papers. Forestry Department, FAO, Rome, Italy. 14 pp.
• Schatz, G.E., 2001. Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 477 pp.
• Stiles, D., 1998. The Mikea hunter-gatherers of southwest Madagascar: ecology and socioeconomics. African Study Monographs 19(3): 127–148.
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
Photo editor
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2011. Stadmannia oppositifolia Lam. 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

wood in transverse section