Dalbergia cumingiana Benth.
Dalbergia zollingeriana Miq.
Common Name: Akar Laka
Akar laka is a thorny, climbing shrub producing stems up to 30 metres long[
The older stems are harvested from the wild for use as joss sticks[
]. The wood is sold in local markets[
E. Asia - Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Secondary forest on river banks, along the seashore, in fresh-water swamp forest and in Dipterocarp forest, mostly on fertile alluvial soils up to elevations of 150 metres[
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A plant of lowland tropical areas.
We have no specific information on this species, but members of this genus generally prefer a fertile, loam soil and a position in full sun[
It is doubtful whether this species is the true or the only source of 'kayu laka'; its natural scarcity is difficult to reconcile with the large amounts of incense used[
]. It is recommended to clarify all the sources of 'kayu laka' and to investigate the prospects of cultivating it to prevent the species being eradicated from the wild[
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.
A red, sticky oil which is applied to ulcerated wounds can be distilled from the wood, and a decoction of the wood in water is used as a tonic[
]. The grated wood is rubbed on the skin to invigorate the body[
The pulverized heartwood is used as a component of incense or joss sticks, especially in China, India and Malaysia[
]. It has no odour until burnt, when it produces a pleasant smell[
]. Only small amounts are used for joss sticks, because its strong odour easily dominates other components[
Only the oldest parts of mature stems are collected from the wild; the sapwood is removed, the heartwood is cut into billets which are traded[
]. The main components of the heartwood essential oil are nerolidol, farnesol, furfurol, arylbenzofurans and neoflavonoids[
Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[
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