Herbs & Plants

Baillonella toxisperma

Botanical Name: Baillonella toxisperma
Family: Sapotaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Baillonella
Species: B. toxisperma

Synonyms: Baillonella djave (Engl.) Pierre ex Dubard. Baillonella pierriana (Engl.) A.Chev. Mimusops djave Eng

Common Names: African Pearwood, False Shea Butternut, Djave nut, or Moabi

Habitat: Baillonella toxisperma is native to Angola, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon and Nigeria.

Baillonella toxisperma is a large deciduous Tree, growing to 50 m (164ft) by 40 m (131ft) at a fast rate. It has a straight and cylindrical bole, alternately arranged leaves, and round fruits. It bears an umbrella-shaped crown; of the lowland rain-forest in SE Nigeria and W Cameroons, and in the Congo basin.The sap-wood is white, heart-wood a rich red or light reddi.


The tree occurs in primary rain forest in humid and warm climates, with a mean annual temperature of 23 – 26°c and a mean annual rainfall of 1,500 – 3,000 mm. Seeds germinate in abundance under or close to mother trees. However, young plants of 1 metre tall are rare as a result of predation by animals, mainly elephants, and the survival rate of seedlings after 18 months is practically nil under the mother tree and very low (less than 2%) elsewhere. In forest undergrowth seedlings grow 4 – 5 cm/year. They respond rapidly to the opening of the forest cover and direct sunlight, and under these circumstances may grow up to 40 cm/year. When the tree bole has attained 1m in diameter and the crowns have reached or passed the forest canopy, diameter growth is up to 9.5 mm/year. It has been estimated from growth rings and C14 dating that a tree with a bole diameter of 1 metre was 260 years old and one with a diameter of 2.8 metres 600 – 700 years. The tree starts flowering at an age of 50 – 70 years, when it has reached the light in the upper storey of the forest, but regular fructification starts still later, when the bole has reached 70 cm in diameter. Fruits are produced annually, but mass production occurs once in 3 years. About 6,000 seeds per tree are produced within a cycle of 3 years; a single tree produced 2,460 kg of fruits, including 327 kg of seed kernels. The fruiting season lasts up to 4 weeks for an individual tree, but may last 3 months for a whole wild population. At present, the only management measure for natural forest is the maintenance of a minimum diameter limit for exploitation, i.e. 70 cm in Gabon, 80 cm in Congo and 100 cm in Cameroon. In Cameroon commercial exploitation of the tree implies the cutting of 90% of trees above 100 cm in diameter, leaving only poorly shaped trees. It has been estimated that after 300 years 84% of the harvested volume is re-established and after 500 years 92%. Sustainable production in natural forest is therefore not possible. Cutting cycles of 30 years, as often practised, threaten the populations seriously. During the fruiting season, local people often move to localities where clusters of trees are found and stay there in temporary camps for 2 – 8 weeks. The collected fruits are depulped and the seed kernels dried. After heating, the oil is gathered by pressing with a traditional wooden press. The oil is used domestically or sold. It can be stored for 1 – 2 years. In 1992, which was a very good year for fruit production, the yield of oil was estimated at 135 – 165 litres per adult tree

Edible Uses:
Edible portion: Nut, Seeds – oil,. The fruit pulp is eaten fresh although it contains latex. The seed kernel contains a fatty oil that is used in cooking. The residue after extracting the oil is toxic.

Medicinal Uses:
In traditional medicine, the seed kernel of this plant is used for its fatty oil content to treat rheumatism. In particular, the oil is applied externally to the pained area caused by such ailment. Decoctions of the bark are used against kidney conditions, tooth pain, rickets, vaginal infections, and problems in respiratory and digestive tracts.

Other Uses:
The seed kernel contains a fatty oil that is used as a pomade to the hair and also in soap manufacture. The allelopathic compound 3-hydroxyuridine has been isolated from the leaves, stems and roots of the tree. It inhibited the growth of seedlings of some test plants. The heartwood has a uniform reddish brown colour, more or less dark and finely veined; it is clearly demarcated from the 4 – 6cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is fine; the grain straight or interlocked. The wood is heavy, hard, elastic, very durable, with a resistance to fungi, Lyctus beetles, termites and marine borers. It is difficult to work due to the presence of silica (0.2 – 0.3%) – power tools that are stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide are recommended; it glues correct, though care needs to be taken because of the density of the wood; it takes nails and screws well, but pre-boring is required; it finishes well; and has good steam-bending properties. Painting and varnishing with the principal industrial products do not cause problems. It is used for many purposes including high class cabinetwork, joinery and carpentry in both interior and exterior applications, marine construction, flooring, turnery, railway sleepers, decorative uses and venee

Known Hazards: The residues of oil extraction are sometimes used as fish poison. Sawdust from the wood can irritate mucous membrances

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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