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Useful Tropical Plants

Ormosia monosperma

(Sw.) Urb.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Ormosia dasycarpa Jacks.

Ormosia subsessilis Pittier

Podalyria monosperma Poir

Sophora monosperma Sw.

Virgilia rubiginosa DC.

Common Name:

Ormosia monosperma
Seedpods opening to reveal the seed
Photograph by: Tatters
Creative Commons License

General Information

Ormosia monosperma is a tree that can grow to about 17 metres tall[
749
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. Vol. 32
Publication
 
Author
Rudd V.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
Monographs of several species in the family Fabaceae, including the Ormosia that occur in the Americas. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of wood. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
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.
].

Known Hazards

The plants, but especially the seed and perhaps also the bark, of many if not all species in this genus contain alkaloids and are toxic[
864
Title
Botanical Museum Leaflets Vol 21
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Botanical Museum; Cambridge, Massachusetts
Year
1963 - 1967
ISBN
 
Description
A series of botanical articles. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Botanical References

749
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. Vol. 32
Publication
 
Author
Rudd V.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
Monographs of several species in the family Fabaceae, including the Ormosia that occur in the Americas. It can be downloaded from the Internet.

Range

S. America - northern Venezuela; Caribbean - Trinidad to the Windward and Leeward Islands.

Habitat

Dense primary forests, usually on hillsides, at elevations up to 1,600 metres[
749
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. Vol. 32
Publication
 
Author
Rudd V.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
Monographs of several species in the family Fabaceae, including the Ormosia that occur in the Americas. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Properties

Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitTree
Height15.00 m
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details



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[
755
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

An infusion of the cooked seeds is drunk as a treatment for pains of the heart[
592
Title
Contributions to The Flora of Venezuela.
Publication
 
Author
Steyermark J.A. Et al
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Chicago Natural History Museum; Chicago.
Year
1951 - 1957
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent flora, though made at a time when botanical knowledge of the areas was still very lacking.
,
749
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. Vol. 32
Publication
 
Author
Rudd V.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
Monographs of several species in the family Fabaceae, including the Ormosia that occur in the Americas. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The cooked seeds are placed in water, then given to children to put around their necks as a remedy for sore throat[
592
Title
Contributions to The Flora of Venezuela.
Publication
 
Author
Steyermark J.A. Et al
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Chicago Natural History Museum; Chicago.
Year
1951 - 1957
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent flora, though made at a time when botanical knowledge of the areas was still very lacking.
,
749
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. Vol. 32
Publication
 
Author
Rudd V.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
Monographs of several species in the family Fabaceae, including the Ormosia that occur in the Americas. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Other Uses

We have seen no specific reports for this species, but the brightly coloured seeds of various members of this genus are so commonly used as beads that the tree is known as the necklace tree[
520
Title
Botanical Beads
Publication
 
Author
Smith R.J.
Website
http://www.botanicalbeads.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website looking at seeds that are used for ornament. It is based on a book that the author had written.
].

The wood is coarse-grained and hard. It is used for general construction and shingles[
749
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. Vol. 32
Publication
 
Author
Rudd V.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
Monographs of several species in the family Fabaceae, including the Ormosia that occur in the Americas. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
We do not have any more information on the wood of this species, but a general description for the wood of S. American members of this genus is as follows:-
The heartwood is pinkish to reddish, mostly salmon-coloured, sometimes yellowish-brown, more or less streaked; it is not always distinct from the yellowish sapwood. The texture is coarse to very coarse; the grain mostly irregular; lustre usually medium; it feels harsh; there is no distinctive odour or taste. The wood is generally reported to be quite susceptible to attack by decay fungi; it is vulnerable to dry-wood termites, and prone to powder-post beetle attack
(sapwood). It generally air dries very slowly; checking and warp vary from slight to moderate. For most species, the wood is reported to saw and machine easily, with fair to good results; surfaces, however, are somewhat rough and difficult to finish. It is used for furniture components, interior construction, general carpentry, and utility veneer[
316
Title
Tropical Timbers of the World. Ag. Handbook No. 607.
Publication
 
Author
Chudnoff. Martin.
Publisher
USDA Forest Service. Wisconsin.
Year
1984
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details on the properties of the wood of almost 400 species of trees from the Tropics.
].

Propagation

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 and improve 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[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

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