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Useful Tropical Plants

Caesalpinia sappan

L.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Biancaea sappan (L.) Tod.

Common Name: Sappanwood

Caesalpinia sappan
Plants growing in a herbal garden in India
Photograph by: J.M.Garg
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Caesalpinia sappan Caesalpinia sappan Caesalpinia sappan Caesalpinia sappan

General Information

Sappanwood is a prickly, shrubby tree that can grow up to 20 metres tall, but is usually smaller[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. The bole can be 20 - 30cm in diameter[
598
Title
Trees of Laos and Vietnam - A Field Guide to 100 species.
Publication
 
Author
Hoang Van Sam; Khamseng Nanthavong; Kessler P.J.A.
Publisher
Blumea
Year
2004
ISBN
 
Description
A detailed guide, with excellent line-drawings, to 100 of the more important trees of Laos and Vietnam. A very good work, giving lots of information about each plant. Originally published in the magazine Blumea, it available as a PDF on the Internet.
].
The wood of the tree has been used for many hundreds of years as the source of a red dye and at one time hundreds of tonnes were exported annually to the Islamic and Mediterranean worlds and then to Europe from the Middle Ages onwards[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. With the advent of synthetic dyes, it has largely fallen into disuse, though it is still employed for dyeing textiles on a smaller scale by craftsmen and artists[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Although the tree in general is not considered to be threatened, subpopulations in Viet Nam are restricted and considered to be 'Critically Endangered'. The plant as a whole is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

E. Asia - China, southern India, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam.

Habitat

Secondary forest; near roadsides; at the forest-edges; limestone hills[
598
Title
Trees of Laos and Vietnam - A Field Guide to 100 species.
Publication
 
Author
Hoang Van Sam; Khamseng Nanthavong; Kessler P.J.A.
Publisher
Blumea
Year
2004
ISBN
 
Description
A detailed guide, with excellent line-drawings, to 100 of the more important trees of Laos and Vietnam. A very good work, giving lots of information about each plant. Originally published in the magazine Blumea, it available as a PDF on the Internet.
]. Grows mostly at low and medium altitudes in hilly areas with clayey soil and calcareous rocks[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitTree
Height10.00 m
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Sappanwood succeeds in semi-arid to moist tropical regions. It tolerates an annual precipitation in the range 700 - 4,300 mm and a mean annual temperature of 24 - 28°c[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Succeeds in any moderately fertile, well-drained soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Young plants are best grown in the shade of trees in the forest or in forest borders[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
], but older trees require a position in full sun[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Succeeds in a pH of 5 - 7.5[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Flowering can occur after 1 year of growth and usually during the rainy season, fruiting about 6 months later[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Plants respond well to coppicing[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The tree is cut about 1 metre above the ground to allow sprouts to grow from the stump[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Harvesting is done manually with a machete; prickles are easily removed by brushing with the blunt edge of the machete[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. For use as a dyewood the tree must be harvested every 6 - 8 years, to allow the heartwood to become fully developed; for firewood it may be harvested every 3 - 4 years when the trunk has attained a diameter of 5 - 6 cm[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

A few drops of wood extract in drinking water is considered refreshing, due to the fragrance and colour it imparts[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The dye obtained from the wood is sometimes used to colour food[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Medicinal

Sappanwood is used in the traditional medicines of various Asiatic countries[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Modern research has identified various medically active compounds in the plant, particularly brazilin, which is found in the heartwood[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Brazilin has been shown to have a positive effect on the immune functions; plus a hypoglycaemic action and increased glucose metabolism[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A decoction of the wood has shown antibiotic activity against Staphylococcus, Salmonella typhi, Shigella flexneri, Shigella dysenteriae and Bacillus subtilis. An extract of Caesalpinia sappan was found to be a potent agent for inactivating human sperm in vitro; about 2.5 mg/ml is required to reduce motility to 50%[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A decoction or infusion of the heartwood is generally considered a strong emmenagogue and astringent. It is also used to cure wounds (also with a plaster of macerated leaves and bark), tuberculosis, diarrhoea and dysentery and is reported as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, cytotoxic, hypoglycaemic and xanthine oxidase-inhibitory activities[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The seeds serve as a sedative[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The tree is often planted as a living fence. Owing to its easy growth and dense growth habit, it is used for defining the boundaries of land and for protecting plantations against grazing animals[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Other Uses

A red dye is obtained from the wood[[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Silk, wool, cotton, matting and basket fibres can be dyed with it[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The wood is ground into a coarse powder, moistened with water and allowed to ferment for a few weeks to increase the colouring power of the dye[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It is then boiled in water and the liquid can either be used immediately or evaporated and stored as a dry soluble extract for future use[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The mordants used (e.g. aluminium acetate, stannic salts, oxalic acid) determine the final colour of the cloth, which can vary from shades of red to pink, violet and brown[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
A yellow dye is obtained from the bark[
598
Title
Trees of Laos and Vietnam - A Field Guide to 100 species.
Publication
 
Author
Hoang Van Sam; Khamseng Nanthavong; Kessler P.J.A.
Publisher
Blumea
Year
2004
ISBN
 
Description
A detailed guide, with excellent line-drawings, to 100 of the more important trees of Laos and Vietnam. A very good work, giving lots of information about each plant. Originally published in the magazine Blumea, it available as a PDF on the Internet.
].
The fruits contain tannin and were used in the past to prepare a black dye in combination with an iron mordant[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The seedpods are used, like those of several other related species, together with protosulphate of iron, to make an ink or black dye[
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The leaves can be used to hasten ripening of fruits such as bananas and mangoes[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A gum is obtained from the stem[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The leaves contain a pleasant smelling volatile oil[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The wood is straight grained with a fine to moderately fine texture, fairly heavy, hard and lustrous[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It is difficult to dry and is susceptible to warping and collapse, but moderately easy to work; it takes a high finish, and is tough and resistant to termite attack[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It has been used in cabinet-making since mediaeval times, especially for inlay decoration[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It is often used for carving[
598
Title
Trees of Laos and Vietnam - A Field Guide to 100 species.
Publication
 
Author
Hoang Van Sam; Khamseng Nanthavong; Kessler P.J.A.
Publisher
Blumea
Year
2004
ISBN
 
Description
A detailed guide, with excellent line-drawings, to 100 of the more important trees of Laos and Vietnam. A very good work, giving lots of information about each plant. Originally published in the magazine Blumea, it available as a PDF on the Internet.
].
The wood is also is a good source of firewood[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 12 - 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. The seed usually germinates within a few days[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until large enough to plant out.
Softwood cuttings in sand in a frame[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

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