Prota 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins
Oliv., Fl. trop. Afr. 2: 417 (1871).
Origin and geographic distribution
Terminalia scutifera is a strictly West African coastal species distributed from Guinea Bissau to Sierra Leone.
The bark of Terminalia scutifera yields a yellow dye, which is used in Sierra Leone to colour clothes and fibres of plant origin. In Sierra Leone the wood is used to make knee-pieces and curved parts of the hulls of fishing boats. A bark extract is used to wash sore feet.
Deciduous small tree up to 15 m tall, with gnarled bole, low branching; bark of branchlets finely longitudinally furrowed, pale brown. Leaves alternate, often crowded at the ends of branchlets, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole up to 2 cm long; blade oblanceolate to narrowly obovate, 8–19 cm × 3–8 cm, base acute, apex acuminate, thinly leathery, densely red-brown tomentose when young, later glabrescent. Inflorescence a spike up to 8 cm long; peduncle c. 3 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, white; receptacle tubular, with 5 acute calyx lobes reflexed in open flowers; petals absent; stamens 10; ovary inferior, densely red-brown tomentose, 1-celled, style simple. Fruit a sessile, glabrous, rhomboid drupe c. 2.5 cm × 3.5 cm, with 2 narrow wings, dark brown.
Terminalia is pantropical and comprises about 200 species. In tropical mainland Africa about 32 indigenous species occur, in Madagascar 37. Several species are cultivated pantropically, e.g. Terminalia catappa L. The fruits of Terminalia scutifera have often been confused with those of Terminalia superba Engl. & Diels and its leaves with those of Terminalia ivorensis A.Chev. The bark of the latter two species also yields yellow to reddish brown dyes and black dyes if mordanted with iron-rich mud or iron salts. They are used, for instance in Côte d’Ivoire, to dye wraps, matting and basket fibres, but these species are primarily used as timber.
Terminalia scutifera is confined to coastal habitats with mangrove swamp vegetation or freshwater swamp forest just above the high tide line.
Genetic resources and breeding
Terminalia scutifera is rather common and not in danger of genetic erosion as long as the mangrove vegetations in its comparatively small distribution area are not endangered.
Terminalia scutifera will remain a minor local source for dyeing.
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• Keay, R.W.J., 1954. Combretaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 264–281.
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• Miège, J., 1992. Couleurs, teintures et plantes tinctoriales en Afrique occidentale. Bulletin du Centre Genevois d’Anthropologie 3: 115–131.
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Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2005. Terminalia scutifera Planch. ex M.A.Lawson In: Jansen, P.C.M. & Cardon, D. (Editors). PROTA 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.