Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 2
Cat. afr. pl. 1(1): 128 (1896).
Smooth-fruited zanha (En). Mkalya, mkwanga (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Zanha golungenis is widely distributed in Africa, occurring from Senegal east to Ethiopia and Kenya, and south to Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The wood of Zanha golungensis is widely used for construction, furniture and carving. Several sources, especially from West Africa, claim explicitly that the fruits are not eaten by humans, but other reports state that they are consumed.
Various plant parts contain saponins and the bark is used as a substitute for soap. Bark decoctions are taken as a cure for malaria, powdered bark is sniffed against chest complaints and colds and rubbed into the skin of temples and forehead to get relief of headache, and bark preparations are considered galactagogue. In Senegal bark is applied in a poultice to treat broken limbs. In Tanzania a root decoction is drunk as a cure for infected, hard abscesses, and to treat uterus prolapse, hernia and amenorrhoea. A decoction of leafy twigs is used to treat fever. Zanha golungensis is occasionally planted as shade tree in coffee plantations.
The heartwood is whitish, sometimes with a pinkish hue, and indistinctly demarcated from the sapwood. The texture is moderately fine.
The fresh fruit contains about 67% water. The fruit contains per 100 g of dry matter: energy 1449 kJ (347 kcal), protein 2.1 g, fat 1.5 g, fibre 3.2 g, Ca 140 mg, P 60 mg and Fe 5 mg. It contains acid saponin. The triterpenoids zanhic acid and zanhic acid-γ-lactone, and the prosapogenins zanhin and medicagin have been isolated from the root bark.
Deciduous, dioecious shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 30(–40) m tall; bole cylindrical, sometimes crooked, up to 150(–170) cm in diameter; bark surface greyish brown to dark brown, scaling off in large flakes revealing a brown layer; crown dense, heavily branched; twigs glabrous. Leaves alternate, paripinnately compound with 3–7 pairs of leaflets; stipules absent; petiole up to 12 cm long, rachis up to 15 cm long, glabrous or sparsely hairy; petiolules up to 2 mm long; leaflets opposite, ovate to elliptical or oblong-elliptical, 6–11(–17) cm × 2–4(–5.5) cm, cuneate at base, obtuse to short-acuminate at apex, margin entire to slightly toothed towards the apex, glabrous, pinnately veined with up to 16 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary panicle with flowers in dense clusters. Flowers unisexual, regular, small, greenish, sweet-scented; pedicel up to 3 mm long, hairy; sepals 4–5, c. 4.5 mm long, fused at base, hairy outside; petals absent; stamens 4–5, up to 8 mm long; disk cup-shaped; ovary superior, 2-celled, style simple; male flowers without ovary, female flowers with rudimentary stamens. Fruit an ellipsoid fleshy drupe up to 2 cm × 1.5 cm, glabrous, yellow to orange or pink, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid, up to 2 cm long. Seedling with hypogeal germination; epicotyl c. 15 cm long; first 2 leaves opposite, with 2–3 pairs of leaflets.
Zanha golungensis sheds most of its leaves during the dry season. The flowers appear before the new leaves. Fruits are eaten by birds, gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys, and these probably serve as seed dispersers.
Zanha comprises 3 species. Zanha africana (Radlk.) Exell of mainland tropical Africa and Zanha suaveolens Capuron, which is endemic to Madagascar, are both trees of which the timber is used locally.
Zanha golungensis occurs in deciduous woodland and forest, sometimes also in evergreen forest and extending into riverine forests in drier areas, at 300–1700 m altitude. It requires proper drainage.
Propagation of Zanha golungensis with fresh seeds is easy. Seeds germinate within 2 months. In Kenya seedlings survived a dry period of 3 weeks. Propagation by cuttings is probably feasible as well. In Togo Zanha golungensis is often retained for its fruits when land is cleared for home gardens. In Ethiopia it is left after forest clearing to serve as a shade tree for coffee.
Genetic resources and breeding
There are no indications that Zanha golungensis is threatened or vulnerable. Although widespread, it apparently is nowhere common.
The variation in tree height and bole diameter of Zanha golungensis is largely due to growing conditions. It may be worthwile to try selections of the largest trees from DR Congo and Ethiopia in other areas.
In most of its range Zanha golungensis produces timber of little commercial value. However, it will remain an important source of wood for local uses. There is very little or no information on its propagation and management, and research is needed to explore possibilities for domestication of this multipurpose species.
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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.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2011. Zanha golungensis Hiern. 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.
1, flowering branch; 2, fruits.
Source: Flore analytique du Bénin
obtained from B. Wursten
obtained from B. Wursten