Pterocarpus soyauxii

An entry written by work-study student Bryant DeRoy:

Today we have more images (image 1, image 2) from Bart Wursten (aka zimbart@Flickr), this time of Pterocarpus soyauxii. Many thanks for your wonderful submissions via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, Bart!

Believe it or not this is not the scene of some gruesome horror story, although the blood-like sap oozing from the small gash in the trunk could have fooled me. Pterocarpus soyauxii is native to central-western Africa. Its distribution straddles both sides of the equator and reaches as far south as Angola. It is commonly referred to as African padauk (mainly in the lumber industry), but is referred to as the following: kisese (Congo), mbel (Cameroon), mukula or n’gula (Zaire), and tacula (Angola). Pterocarpus soyauxii is a member of the Fabaceae, the extremely large subfamily Faboideae and the tribe Dalbergieae. This tree grows in the range of 27 to 55m tall (88-180ft.) with a diameter of roughly 140-200 cm. Prominent buttresses up to 2m high can also be found on this species. It grows from sea level up to 500m, preferring deep/well-drained soil and roughly 150-170cm (60-66 inches) of annual rainfall.

Pterocarpus soyauxii has an extensive ethnobotanical and economic history. Its wood has been used in a variety of ways, but is perhaps best known for its tonal qualities and subsequent use for musical instruments. The leaves and flowers of this species are edible and contain a high concentration of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) even after cooking, thus serving as important forage for humans and other primates alike. Pterocarpus soyauxii is also the source of a reddish dye, created from grinding the heartwood into a pulp to extract the tannins and other pigmented substances such as flavonoids. For more information on the natural history of this species (including additional images), there is an excellent bio on the Plant Resources of Tropical Africa site: Pterocarpus soyauxii.

Pterocarpus soyauxii
Pterocarpus soyauxii

4 responses to “Pterocarpus soyauxii”

  1. Elizabeth Revell

    Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “bleeding heart”, doesn’t it!
    Great info about the Vitamin C though.

  2. Wendy Cutler

    The first photo is definitely eye-catching, but I get excited by alternate pinnately-compound leaves, so I’m glad that photo was included.

  3. Alex

    Fantastic, I work as a horticulturist in a botanic garden in the UK and I have a very large specimen of Strongylodon macrobotrys (jade vine) in my collection. Other than its spectacular flowers, we noted that it has a similar red sap, is this prevalent within the subfamily Dalbergiae? Does anyone know? Is it found within the wider family? I did note though that the sap is only red once exposed to the air and is clear, until oxidised, similar to the colour change involved in haemoglobin?

  4. elizabeth a airhart

    ti’s not hard to see how legends and lores of the first people
    and the early humans of this earth came about our liveing
    earth has so many wonders thank you all

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