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Useful Tropical Plants

Senegalia catechu

(L.f.) P.J.H.Hurter & Mabb.

Fabaceae


Classification of the genus Acacia (in the wider sense) has been subject to considerable debate. It is generally agreed that there are valid reasons for breaking it up into several distinct genera, but there has been disagreement over the way this should be done. As of 2017, it is widely (but not completely) accepted that the section that includes the majority of the Australian species should retain the name Acacia, whilst other sections of the genus should be transferred to other genera. This species is transferred to Senegalia[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Acacia catechu (L.f.) Willd.

Acacia catechuoides (Roxb.) Benth

Acacia sundra (Roxb.) Bedd.

Acacia wallichiana DC.

Mimosa catechu L.f.

Mimosa catechuoides Roxb.

Common Name: Black Catechu

Senegalia catechu
Cultivated tree in Queensland, Australia
Photograph by: Btcpg
Creative Commons License
Senegalia catechu Senegalia catechu Senegalia catechu Senegalia catechu Senegalia catechu Senegalia catechu Senegalia catechu

General Information

Black catechu is a spiny, deciduous tree with slender branches; it can grow 10 - 20 metres tall. The bole can be 50cm in diameter[
320
Title
Trees Commonly Cultivated in SE Asia
Publication
 
Author
Jensen. M.
Publisher
FAO Regional Office, Bangkok.
Year
1999
ISBN
974-89377-5-5
Description
 
].
The tree is a source of tannins, known as 'catechu' or 'cutch', which has a wide range of uses including in medicine, as a dye and preservative, and as an ingredient of 'paan', a widely used mildly narcotic masticatory. The tree also provides a useful timber. It is extensively harvested from the wild, and also cultivated in Asia, and is an item of international trade[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Known Hazards

The bark contains an alkaloid and is said to be toxic[
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.
].
Both fruit and stem are used in Myanmar to poison fish[
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.
].
Especially in times of drought, many Acacia species can concentrate high levels of the toxin Hydrogen cyanide in their foliage, making them dangerous for herbivores to eat.

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 - southwest China, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand.

Habitat

Open, drier areas mostly on well drained soil types, but also on shallow, poor, rocky soils[
320
Title
Trees Commonly Cultivated in SE Asia
Publication
 
Author
Jensen. M.
Publisher
FAO Regional Office, Bangkok.
Year
1999
ISBN
974-89377-5-5
Description
 
]. Mixed deciduous forests and savannah of lower mountains and hills. Especially common in the drier regions on sandy soils of riverbanks and watersheds[
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.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitDeciduous Tree
Height20.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant for sub-tropical to tropical areas, tolerating a minimum temperature of about 7°c[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It is especially common in the drier regions, but can also be grown in the more humid climates of South-East Asia at elevations from sea-level to about 1,500 metres. It succeeds in areas where annual daytime temperatures acan reach 32 - 39°c, and the mean annual rainfall is in the range 500 - 2,000mm[
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.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Requires a sunny position[
320
Title
Trees Commonly Cultivated in SE Asia
Publication
 
Author
Jensen. M.
Publisher
FAO Regional Office, Bangkok.
Year
1999
ISBN
974-89377-5-5
Description
 
]. Grows best in a well-drained, neutral to acid soil[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Succeeds in a wide range of soils, including poor, shallow ones[
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.
]. Intolerant of clay soils[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The tree starts flowering and producing pods when 5 - 7 years old[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Trees with a girth of 60 - 120cm are generally preferred for cutch production. The wood can be harvested when the trees are 30 years old in good sites, 50 years old in moderate sites, and 60 years old in poor sites. The whole tree is felled and transported to factories[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The wood of freshly felled trees yields more cutch than dried wood[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
In 60-year-old plantations in India the yield of heartwood in good sites is 75 cubic metres per hectare, in moderate sites 63 cubic metres, and in poor sites 50 cubic metres. In these plantations the yield of cutch can be estimated at 6 tonnes per hectare, 5 tonnes and 4 tonnes respectively[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
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

Catechu, obtained from the heartwood (see Other Uses below) is an indispensible ingredient of 'paan', a slightly narcotic chewing mixture containing betel leaf (Piper betle) and betel palm seed (Areca spp.) [
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

The seeds contain water-soluble mucilage (6.8%); they are a good protein source but are nutritionally incomplete with respect to essential amino acids[
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.
].

Medicinal

Black catechu is a bitter-sweet antiseptic and astringent herb, the leaves, young shoots and bark of which are often used to check bleeding and discharges[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The plant is strongly astringent, encouraging clotting of the blood and reducing excess mucous in the nose, large bowel or vagina[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. It is taken internally in the treatment of conditions such as dysentery, chronic diarrhoea and chronic catarrh[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
Externally, it is used as a wash etc to treat nose bleeds, haemorrhoids, skin eruptions, bed sores, mouth ulcers, sore throats, dental infections etc[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

When boiled, the wood and foliage of the tree produce a dark brown sticky substance known as 'catechu', 'cutch' or 'cachou'. This substance crystallizes upon cooling and has been an important article of trade in medicinal herbs since at least the 16th century, reaching Europe in the 17th century. It contains 25 - 60% tannins, 20 - 30% tannins, flavonoids and resins, and is valued mainly for its astringent qualities and is used both internally and externally to check bleeding and excessive secretions from the mucous membranes[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. In this form, the herb is subject to legal restrictions in some countries[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

The seeds have been reported to have an antibacterial action[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is traditionally grown in living fences in the northwestern Himalayas, where it helps to exclude livestock and other animals; mark out land boundaries; whilst also providing a range of medicinal and other uses[
1174
Title
Ethnobotanical Uses of Biofencing Plants in Himachel Pradesh, Northwest Himalaya
Publication
Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences 16 (24): 1957-1963, 2013
Author
Pankaj Sharma & Usha Devi
Publisher
 
Year
2013
ISBN
1028-8880
Description
A brief look at 61 species of plants used in hedging in northwest Himalayas nd their other uses
].

Other Uses

The bark is a rich source of tannins[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
A khaki dye can be obtained from the bark[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

The bark exudes a light gum of very good quality and is one of the best substitutes for gum arabic[
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.
].
Obtained from Senegalia senegal, gum arabic has a wide range of uses including as a food additive, medicine and mucilage in inks etc[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

A tannin-rich, solid extract, known as catechu, or cutch, is obtained from the heartwood. Catechu usually contains 55 - 60% tannins[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Depending on the way of processing, several products for different purposes can be obtained from this material:-
In India and Myanmar the dark 'catechu' or 'Pegu cutch' is used for tanning, often in a mixture of tan-stuffs. It is also used for preserving fishing nets and ropes; for dyeing cotton, silk, canvas, paper and leather a dark-brownish colour; and also as a viscosity modifier in on-shore oil wells[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. When dyeing cotton, the material is steeped for about one hour in a boiling solution of cutch, to which copper sulphate has been added. Afterwards it is transferred to a bath containing sodium bichromate. The dye is very fast to light, acids and alkalies[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The crystalline portion of a concentrated decoction of the wood, called 'katha' or 'kath', is much used in betel chewing together with the leaf of Piper betle, and as an astringent for medicinal purposes[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
A third form of cutch is the crystalline deposit sometimes found in cavities of the wood, known in India as 'khersal'. It is used for medicinal purposes[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
After felling the trees, the bark and sapwood are removed, and the heartwood is converted into chips. In India the chips are extracted with water in extractors made of copper or wood, but vessels of aluminium and stainless steel are also suitable. After heating for about 2 hours, the chips are removed and extracted in a new bath of water. Then the extract is evaporated and cooled for crystallization to produce katha, which is separated by filtering[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
To obtain cutch the aqueous liquor is further concentrated in evaporators to a consistency at which it solidifies on cooling. In this way advantage is taken of the fact that cutch is soluble both in cold and hot water, whereas katha is only sparingly soluble in cold water[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The heartwood is light red to reddish-brown, darkening on exposure; it is sharply demarcated from the yellow to yellowish white sapwood. The wood is very strong, very hard, durable and is not attacked by white ants or toredos[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It needs long seasoning, and is fairly difficult to saw. Little known, but it is highly suitable for cabinet work[
719
Title
A Manual of the Timbers of the World
Publication
 
Author
Howard A.L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
MacMillan and Co.; London.
Year
1934
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent and comprehensive book on timbers. Rather dated, but still a main source of information for many of the less known woods. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. It is an important timber locally, where it is used for poles, agricultural implements, wheels, household items etc[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The wood makes an excellent fuel, and is ideal for making charcoal[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
320
Title
Trees Commonly Cultivated in SE Asia
Publication
 
Author
Jensen. M.
Publisher
FAO Regional Office, Bangkok.
Year
1999
ISBN
974-89377-5-5
Description
 
].

Propagation

The seed of most, if not all, members of this genus has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing 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. Seed germinates best at a temperature around 21°c[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Sprouting commences around 5 - 7 days after sowing the treated seed[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Plants quickly make a deep taproot and resent root disturbance, they should be planted out into their permanent positions as soon as possible[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
Semi-ripe cuttings of lateral shoots[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-12-06. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Senegalia%20catechu>

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