Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 2
Journ. Linn. Soc., Bot. 21: 339 (1884).
Origin and geographic distribution
Weinmannia minutiflora is widespread in northern, central and eastern Madagascar, south to Tolanaro.
The wood, known as ‘lalona’ just like the wood of several other Weinmannia spp., is valued for house construction, bridges, scaffolding and railway sleepers, but also for luxury and mosaic parquet flooring. It is suitable for interior and exterior joinery, ship building, furniture, cabinet work, toys, novelties, boxes, crates, carvings, pattern making, turnery, veneer, plywood, hardboard and particle board. It is also used as firewood and for charcoal production.
The heartwood is reddish brown and not distinctly demarcated from the sapwood. The grain is straight or wavy, texture fine and even. The wood is medium-weight, with a density of 650–690 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It air dries slowly with a tendency to check. The rates of shrinkage are high, from green to oven dry 4.1–6.2% radial and 9.2–11.7% tangential. Once dry, the wood is moderately stable in service. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 114–137 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 9410–12,150 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 51–52 N/mm², shear 6–8.5 N/mm², cleavage 16.5–18.5 N/mm and Chalais-Meudon side hardness 2.8–9.0.
The wood is fairly easy to work with both machine and hand tools. It can be planed to a nice surface. It is fairly easy to nail and has good nail-holding capacity. It glues satisfactorily and the varnishing properties are good. The wood can be sliced into good-quality veneer. The wood is fairly durable, being resistant to attacks by fungi, termites and Lyctus borers. It is resistant to impregnation with preservatives, especially the heartwood.
Evergreen medium-sized tree up to 30 m tall; bole branchless for up to 12 m, up to 60 cm in diameter; bark surface grey to reddish brown, with lenticels; twigs slightly quadrangular, short hairy. Leaves decussately opposite, compound with 3(–5) leaflets; stipules fused, ovate, caducous; petiole c. 2 cm long; leaflets sessile, obovate to elliptical, 2 lateral ones 3–4 cm × 1–1.5 cm, central one 5–7 cm × 2–2.5 cm, usually obtuse at apex, margins toothed, papery to thin-leathery, glabrous, pinnately veined with c. 8 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary or apparently terminal spike up to 18 cm long, often several closely together on a branch, short-hairy, with flowers often clustered on the axis in groups of 4. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4(–5)-merous, small, nearly sessile; sepals slightly fused at base, triangular, usually glabrous; petals free, elliptical, up to 1.5 mm long, whitish, early caducous; stamens usually 8, free; disk usually 8-lobed; ovary superior, densely hairy, 2-celled, styles 2, divergent. Fruit an ellipsoid capsule c. 4 mm long, densely short-hairy, crowned with the styles, dehiscing by 2 valves, with yellow endocarp separating from the fruit wall, many-seeded. Seeds broadly ellipsoid, c. 0.5 mm long, reddish brown, with 2 bundles of long hairs at both ends.
The flowers are often visited by bees.
Weinmannia comprises about 150 species and occurs in Central and South America, tropical Asia, the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Comoros, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius. Approximately 40 species can be found in Madagascar. The wood of several Weinmannia spp. reaching larger tree dimensions is used for similar purposes as that of Weinmannia minutiflora, although it is often more heavy, with a density of 750–980 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content.
The wood of Weinmannia bojeriana Tul., a shrub to small or medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall widespread in central and eastern Madagascar, is undoubtedly used. The wood of Weinmannia rutenbergii Engl. is heavy, with a density of 930–980 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. Weinmannia rutenbergii is widespread in Madagascar except in the western part of the island, and varies in habit from a small shrub to a medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall. It is probably one of the most commonly exploited Weinmannia spp. for timber, used for instance for parquet flooring. It should be noted that the identity of Weinmannia spp. in the literature is often uncertain because of misidentifications and confusion. This is a result of the many species present in Madagascar and difficulties in using identification keys. Pieces of bark and wood of Weinmannia spp. have been used to prepare a reddish brown dye, and bark and leaves are used in traditional medicine, especially as astringent and to treat headache.
The wood of Weinmannia tinctoria Sm., a small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall with a bole up to 100 cm in diameter endemic to Réunion and Mauritius, has been used in Réunion for joinery, furniture, cabinet work and cooperage. However, populations have strongly declined and Weinmannia tinctoria is included in the IUCN Red list as critically endangered. Leaf extracts of Weinmannia tinctoria showed inhibiting activity of angiotensin converting enzyme, which plays an important role in the regulation of blood pressure and diuresis.
Weinmannia minutiflora occurs in humid evergreen forest from sea-level up to 2000 m altitude.
The central part of logs is often speckled whitish or shows signs of heart rot; heart shakes are common at felling.
Genetic resources and breeding
Weinmannia minutiflora is widespread in Madagascar and does not seem to be threatened.
Weinmannia minutiflora and other Weinmannia spp. deserve more attention in research. They may well be interesting timber trees for planting in Madagascar; their wood is highly valued, many species are widespread and some species even invade deforested regions. Research attention should focus on growth rates, optimal ecological conditions and propagation techniques.
• Bernardi, L., 1965. Cunoniacées (Cunoniaceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), famille 93. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 62 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.
• Guéneau, P., Bedel, J. & Thiel, J., 1970–1975. Bois et essences malgaches. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 150 pp.
• Takahashi, A., 1978. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan, 248 pp.
• Adsersen, A. & Adsersen, H., 1997. Plants from Réunion Island with alleged antihypertensive and diuretic effects - an experimental and ethnobotanical evaluation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 58: 189–206.
• Bedolla, A., 1997. Les trente deux essences recommendées pour la parquéterie à Madagascar. Département des Eaux et Forêts, Ecole Supérieure en Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar. 126 pp.
• 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.
• Bradford, J.C., 2001. The application of a cladistic analysis to the classification and identification of Weinmannia (Cunoniaceae) in Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. Adansonia, sér. 3, 23(2): 237–246.
• Sallenave, P., 1955. Propriétés physiques et mécaniques des bois tropicaux de l’Union française. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent sur Marne, France. 129 pp.
• Sallenave, P., 1971. Propriétés physiques et mecaniques des bois tropicaux. Deuxième supplément. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 128 pp.
• Schatz, G.E., 2001. Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 477 pp.
• Scott, A.J., 1997. Cunoniacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 81–89. 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. 5 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2010. Weinmannia minutiflora Baker. 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.