Herbs & Plants

Afzelia xylocarpa

Botanical Name: Afzelia xylocarpa
Family: Fabaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Genus: Afzelia
Species: A. xylocarpa

Common Names: Makha Tree, Cambodia Beng Tree

Afzelia xylocarpa is native to Southeast Asia – Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam. It grows in dense forest, and in transitional areas between evergreen and dry open dipterocarp forest. Found in mixed deciduous or dry evergreen forest on clayey or laterite soils at elevations from 100 – 600 metre.

Afzelia xylocarpa is a beautiful dry deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a medium rate, with a spreading crown of drooping, dark, glossy green, pinnate leaves and conspicuous green and orange flowers that are followed by large, woody pods with very attractive, brown seeds with orange arils. Afzelia xylocarpa is related to Bauhinia and native to seasonally dry lowland forests in Southeast Asia. It is considered endangered due to overexploitation of it high quality wood and to habit loss. Seeds germinate easily and quickly after soaking overnight, sown thinly covered at 25 to 30°C. It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender.


A plant of the moist tropics, where it is usually found at elevations from 100 – 650 metres[ 404 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime annual temperatures are within the range 20 – 32°c, though it can tolerate 12 – 39°c. It does badly if temperatures fall below10°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 – 1,500mm, with a dry season of 5 – 6 months. Young plants prefer some shade, but become increasingly intolerant of shade as they grow older. Thrives on well-drained flats or on slopes with a deep, loamy soil, or sand on clayey or laterite soils with a neutral pH. The tree has good coppice potential. Seedpods remain on the tree for a long time before opening. 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.

Edible Uses:
Edible Part: Leaves, Seeds, Oil. The fatty cotyledons of young seeds are eaten. An oil is obtained from the seeds.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant is used medicinally for relieving toothaches and eye diseases. The bark is astringent. It is used in local medicine. The seeds are harvested for medicinal purposes. The bark and seed are used for herbal medicine.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: The tree is grown in agroforestry systems, where they improve soil conditions through their nitrogen-fixing ability and leaf fall. Other Uses The seeds are used for carving. An adhesive is made from the seed pulp. The bark contains tannins. The heartwood is reddish-yellow, red to dirty red-brown, often with some streaks, and clearly demarcated from the grey-white sapwood. The texture is moderately fine to moderately coarse. The wood is heavy, hard, very durable (tests have shown a durability under exposure of about 10 years in tropical conditions). It is moderately difficult to work, but easy in comparison with other high-density woods; planed surfaces are often glossy; it takes a high finish. The attractive wood is highly valued for carpentry. The hard, dense, fine-grained and durable wood is highly valued, especially in Thailand. The wood is used in various ways, for round wood, building poles, sawn or hewn building timbers, for heavy and light construction, beams, flooring, wall panelling, shingles, engineering structures, bridges, railway sleepers, woodware, industrial and domestic woodware, tool handles, musical instruments, wood carvings, furniture, veneers, boats, vehicle bodies, wood based materials, plywood, fuel wood and charcoal. The wood burls are specially valued because they form beautiful figures when the wood is being cut. The wood is so valuable that it is sold by kilograms.

The seed pulp can be used to make cigarettes, The highly figured lumber is often sold as Afzelia Xylay. The wood is used for ornamental woodturning, pens, knife handles, carvings, and musical instruments.

In Cambodia, A. xylocarpa (locally known as Beng) are planted as shading trees due to its wide-ranging branches. At roadsides and waterways the tree provides a good windbarrier and protection from water-driven soil erosion.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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