Burkea africana

Burkea africana

Burkea africana Hook. f. is a deciduous, medium-sized, spreading, flat-topped tree belonging to the family Caesalpiniaceae.

Widespread in tropical Africa, it is found in Chad, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa in the Transvaal.

Leaves are bipinnately compound, silvery-pubescent or glabrescent. Flowers are creamy-white, fragrant and in pendulous racemes of up to 300mm in length. The bark is toxic, rich in alkaloids and tannins and used for tanning leather. Pulverised bark is thrown into water to paralyse fish.

If cut from from the heartwood, it produces durable, insect-resistant timber with a moderately fine, wavy grain which is dark brown to reddish brown, and is used for parquet flooring and fine cabinet and furniture work.

The foliage is consumed by the larvae of a Saturniidae moth, Rohaniella pygmaea (Maassen & Weyding, 1885)

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