Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Mém. Acad. Sci. (Paris) 67: 2 (1948).
Origin and geographic distribution
Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa is endemic to western Madagascar, where it occurs from Antsiranana to Morondava.
The wood, often traded as ‘fahavalonkazo’, is used locally for house building, especially for window frames and doors, and also in shipbuilding and for boxes and crates. It is suitable for veneer and plywood production. A bark decoction is used to treat malaria.
The heartwood is yellowish brown, sometimes with a greenish or golden shine, and distinctly demarcated from the greyish white sapwood. The grain is straight, texture coarse.
The wood is medium-weight, with a density of 520–680 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It seasons rapidly with little or no degrade. The rates of shrinkage are moderately high, from green to oven dry 4.3–5.5% radial and 7.9–8.9% tangential. Once dry, the wood is moderately stable in service. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 120–161 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 12,100–16,800 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 46–59 N/mm², shear 5 N/mm², cleavage 12–13 N/mm and Chalais-Meudon side hardness 1.9–3.6.
The wood is fairly easy to saw and work. It holds nails moderately well. The gluing and painting properties are satisfactory. The durability is poor to moderate, the wood being susceptible to attacks by termites, Lyctus borers and fungi. The heartwood is moderately resistant to impregnation with preservatives.
Several alkaloids have been isolated from the stem bark: skimmianine, γ-fagarine, dictamnine, N-benzoyltyramine-methylether and 4-methoxy-1-methyl-2-quinolinone. The quinoline alkaloid γ-fagarine exhibited the strongest in-vitro antiplasmodial activity. Decarine, an alkaloid isolated from two other Zanthoxylum species of Madagascar, i.e. Zanthoxylum madagascariense Baker and Zanthoxylum thouvenotii H.Perrier, showed molluscicidal activity against Biomphalaria pfeifferi, which is an intermediate host for bilharzia parasites.
Deciduous medium-sized tree up to 30 m tall; bole usually straight and cylindrical, up to 100 cm in diameter, with woody, prickle-bearing protuberances up to 2 cm long but old trees sometimes lacking these, often with large and thick, yellowish, corky flakes at base; bark thick, outer bark greyish white to pale brown; twigs thick, armed with conical prickles. Leaves alternate, clustered at ends of branches, imparipinnately compound with 19–33 leaflets, up to 80 cm long; stipules absent; rachis glabrous, sometimes with small prickles; leaflets nearly opposite, almost sessile, oblong-ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 5–20 cm × 2.5–7 cm, rounded and asymmetrical at base, long-acuminate at apex, margin slightly toothed with rounded teeth, glabrous, with scattered minute glandular dots, pinnately veined with c. 12 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a panicle up to 15 cm long, clustered at ends of twigs, short-hairy, many-flowered with flowers in clusters. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous, small; pedicel 0.5–2 mm long; sepals nearly free, c. 1 mm long; petals ovate, c. 2.5 mm long, greenish; male flowers with 4 stamens, disk thick, irregularly toothed, ovary rudimentary; female flowers with superior, globose ovary and short style. Fruit a globose follicle c. 8 mm in diameter, glandular pitted, dehiscent, 1-seeded. Seed globose, c. 5 mm in diameter, black and shiny.
Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa is deciduous and bears leaves from November to May. It flowers near the end of the dry season, from September to November, shortly before new leaves develop. Fruits are ripe in December.
Zanthoxylum is pantropical and comprises about 200 species, with tropical America being richest in species. Mainland Africa harbours about 35 species, whereas about 5 species are endemic to Madagascar.
The wood of Zanthoxylum thouvenotii H.Perrier from eastern Madagascar is used for the same purposes as that of Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa. The leaves are used in the treatment of malaria. Zanthoxylum thouvenotii is also used in traditional medicine as an antitussive, but it is unclear which part of the plant.
Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa occurs in dry deciduous forest, up to 400 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although much of the natural forest in the area of distribution of Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa has disappeared or is heavily degraded, the species is apparently still common locally, at least trees of smaller sizes. There does not seem to be immediate danger of genetic erosion, also because Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa has a fairly wide distribution area.
There is too little information on Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa to judge its prospects as a commercial timber tree under sustainable exploitation management. However, stands of large trees are probably too scarce and inaccessible. An inventory is needed to establish the status of the remaining populations.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2008. Zanthoxylum tsihanimposa H.Perrier. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.