Kibatalia elastica (Preuss) Merr.
Kixia elastica Preuss
Common Name: West African Rubber Tree
Drawing of the leaves and flowers
Photograph by: Matilda Smith
West African rubber tree is a fast-growing, evergreen tree growing up to 30 metres tall. The cylindrical bole is not quite straight, around 75cm in diameter and free of buttresses[
The source of a very good quality latex, used to make rubber, the tree was extensively harvested from the wild and cultivated in the late 19th century[
]. Then, with the availability of latex from the much higher yielding S. American plant Hevea brasiliensis, interest in this species fell away, though it is still exploited in times of need, such as during the second world war[
Tropical Africa - Senegal to Sudan, south to Gabon, Congo and Tanzania.
]. An evanescent species in secondary growth on abandoned cultivated land[
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A tree of the moist tropics.
The plant is amenable to cultivation in forest plantations[
Though the quality of the rubber is comparably good with that of Hevea rubber, this species can in no way compete in yield and therefore economically except in time of dire necessity[
The bark is very astringent, laxative and vermifuge. It is included in prescriptions for troubles associated with blennorrhoea and for painful menstruation.
It is pounded up and taken in spirit to cure haemorrhoids[
The latex is applied to cracked sores of the feet, to cutaneous fungal infections and to sores[
A number of alkaloids is present in the leaves[
]. They are used for treating chest-affections and particularly for whooping-cough[
]. The young leaves are taken by mouth or in enemas for the treatment of diarrhoea, or are mixed with kaolin and administered by enema[
]. The young leaves, mixed with those of Phyllanthus muellerianus, are taken to improve male fertility[
An unidentified alkaloid is present in the seed (16). There has been some commercial interest in the seeds as a substitute for Strophanthus seed as a source of strophanthin (which is used like digitalin to treat heart conditions)[
The bark contains a white latex which coagulates readily[
]. Very high quality, but low yielding compared to Hevea brasiliensis[
The seed-pod contains a fine white floss which is used for stuffing pillows and cushions[
]. In some regions of Africa it is preferred over the floss obtained from Bombax and Ceiba[
]. Spinning trials have indicated a suitability for commercial exploitation[
The seeds contain about 26% oil with a bitterness in the cake, making it unfit for edible purposes[
The wood is white and soft, and undifferentiated between sap and heart[
]. It is not durable[
]. It is used for carving spoons, bowls and other household utensils, and as a timber for beams and rafters in buildings[
]. At one time it was commonly used in Ghana for making Asante stools, and still occasionally is[
]. It has been found very suitable in match-manufacture for the inner and outer boxes and for match-splints, and is recommended for these purposes[
It burns well and is said to be superior to Gmelina arborea[
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