Berlinia baumii Harms
Berlinia paniculata Benth.
Isoberlinia baumii (Harms) P.A.Duvign.
Isoberlinia paniculata (Benth.) Hutch. ex Greenway
Julbernardia baumii (Harms) Troupin
Pseudoberlinia baumii (Harms) P.A.Duvign.
Pseudoberlinia paniculata (Benth.) P.A.Duvign.
Julbernardia paniculata is an evergreen tree with a much-branched, flat-topped crown; it can grow from 2 - 20 metres tall. The straight bole can be 25 - 80cm in diameter[
The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of fibre.
Tropical Africa - Angola, southern DR Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique.
Deciduous woodland, usually occurring with Brachystegia floribunda; poor plateau soils; Kalahari sands; covers extensive areas; dominant in open grassy woods on sand; savannah exposed to fires; at elevations from 1,000 - 1,700 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[
The fibrous bark is used for making bark cloth[
]. The trunk is stripped to a height of 2.5 – 3 metres according to the height at which the branches fork. The stripped trunk is smeared with cow-dung and wrapped round with plaintain leaves - a new bark soon forms which is ready to be used for bark-cloth within 12 months. The third and fourth barks thus obtained are considered the finest in quality, though the tree might yield up to eight or more barks.
The thin outer bark is scraped off the inner bark and discarded. The inner bark is left during the night to dry, and any soft, pulpy substance is scraped off the inside. The strips of bark, which are some 120 – 180cm long and 45cm wide, are laid on a log with a flattened surface and beaten with a mallet until they are the thickness of strong brown paper, by which time they will be 180 – 270cm long and 120cm wide. It is then spread out in the sun to dry, the exposure to light giving the upper surface a tint somewhat like terra-cotta, while the underside is of a lighter shade. Any holes or flaws in the cloth are cut into neat squares and patched with pieces taken from the edges so deftly that in a well-made bark-cloth they are not noticeable. These cloths are usually made up into sheets 2.4 metres square, two lengths being stitched together and pressed in such a manner that the seam is not seen when the cloth is being worn. Strips of fibre from the dry plantain stem are used for thread.
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