Afzelia bella is a variable plant with two main forms. The variety bella can be a shrub or a small tree from 2.5 - 11 metres tall with a bole 5 - 10cm in diameter; whilst the variety gracilior is a larger tree with a spreading crown, usually up to 25 metres but occasionally reaching 35 metres tall with a cylindrical bole that can be unbranched for 6 - 7 metres and up to 100cm in diameter[
The tree produces a valuable timber and is commonly harvested from the wild, especially for export. The tree also supplies food and medicines for local use. A very ornamental plant, it is grown in villages and gardens, and to provide shade[
Tropical Africa - Liberia to Cameroon, south to northern Angola and DR Congo.
Secondary wooded formations; firm-ground forests; more rare in flooded or gallery forests; (var. bella) in understorey of forest; at elevations up to 800 metres[
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Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[
Fruit - raw[
]. The fleshy pulp in the seedpod, surrounding the seeds, has a sweet flavour[
]. Some caution is advised because the seed is poisonous[
Tender young leaves - occasionally cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
The plant (part not specified) is used as an antidote to treat venomous stings, bites, etc[
The bark is used as an abortifacient and anodyne. It is used to treat conditions related to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and skin[
The leaves are laxative[
The bark of most species in this genus is a source of tannins[
The heartwood is golden-brown to light red-brown, sometimes with darker veins; it is clearly demarcated from the 2 - 5cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is coarse; the grain straight or interlocked. The wood is light in weight, soft, durable to very durable, being resistant to termites and dry wood borers and very resistant to fungi. It seasons slowly, with a slight risk of checking or distortion; once dried it is stable in service. The wood is hard to cut, stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; nailing and screwing are good, but pre-boring is recommended; gluing is correct for internal use; filling is recommended to obtain a good finish. The wood has a wide range of uses, including for ship building, construction, interior and exterior joinery and panelling, cabinetwork, cooperage, shingles etc[
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