Herbs & Plants

Baphia nitida

Botanical Namne: Baphia nitida
Family: Fabaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Genus: Baphia
Species: B. nitida

*Baphia angolensis sensu Lester-Garland
*Baphia barombiensis Taub.
*Baphia haematoxylon (Schum. & Thonn.) Hooker f.
*Carpolobia versicolor G. Don
*Delaria pyrifolia Desv.
*Podalyria haematoxylon Schum. & Thonn.

Common Names: Camwood, Baphia, Barwood, and African sandalwood (although not a true sandalwood)

Habitat:Baphia nitida is native to Western Tropical Africa – Senegal to Gabon. It grows in wetter parts of the coastal regions, in rainforest, in secondary forest and on abandoned farmland, from sea-level up to 600 metres.

Baphia nitida is an evergreen leguminous, hard-wooded tree from central west Africa .It has a self-supporting growth form. It is a many-stemmed erect shrub or small tree up to 9 m tall with glabrous to densely pubescent branchlets. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules quickly caducous; petiole 1–4 cm long, prominently thickened at base and at top; blade ovate, elliptical, obovate or lanceolate, 5–21 cm × 3–9 cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex acuminate, slightly leathery, almost glabrous, pinnately veined. Flowers in axillary fascicles, 1–5-flowered, bisexual, papilionaceous; pedicel slender, 3–17 mm long; calyx spathaceous, 8–10 mm long, glabrous but with a tuft of brown hairs at apex; corolla with standard suborbicular, 1–2 cm in diameter, white with a yellow centre, wings and keel white with a pocket near the base; stamens 10, filaments unequal, free, up to 7 mm long; ovary superior, sessile, glabrous, sometimes with a row of silvery hairs along the dorsal margin, 1-celled, style curved, filiform, stigma small. Fruit a compressed pod 8–16.5 cm × 1–1.5 cm, pointed at both ends, 1–4-seeded. Seeds almost circular in outline, 1–1.5 cm in diameter, brown.


Edible Uses:
Edible portion: Seeds. The seeds are edible.

Medicinal Uses:
Baphia nitida has long been used in traditional African medicine. Modern research has shown that several medically active compounds are present in the leaves, including saponins, flavonoid glycosides and true tannins. An ointment made from the leaves has showed anti-inflammatory activity, supported the external use in traditional medicine. Extracts of fresh leaves inhibited digestion, showed antidiarrhoeal effects and also demonstrated analgesic activity. An infusion of the leaves is drunk to cure enteritis and other gastrointestinal problems. The powdered leaves are taken with palm wine or food to cure venereal diseases. Combined with Senna occidentalis, it is drunk against asthma; in combination with the leaves of Morinda lucida it is a treatment against female sterility and painful menstruation. A decoction of the leaves is taken against jaundice and diabetes. The leaves have also been used as an enema to treat constipation. The leaves or leaf juice are used externally against parasitic skin diseases. Combined with Cissus quadrangularis, it is used to treat bone fractures. Both leaves and bark are considered haemostatic and anti-inflammatory, and are used for healing sores and wounds. A bark decoction is drunk to cure epilepsy and cardiac pain. The powdered heartwood is made into an ointment with shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa) and is applied to stiff and swollen joints, sprains and rheumatic complaints. Finely ground root bark, mixed with honey, is taken against asthma. The pounded dried root, mixed with water and oil, is applied to a ringworm-like fungus attacking the feet.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: The plant responds well to trimming and is grown as a hedge and fence. Other Uses The heartwood and roots yield a red dye that is used to dye raffia and cotton textiles. It was exported on a large scale to Europe from the 17th century and to North America from the 18th century as one of the main redwood dyes for wool, cotton and silk. It was considered by European and American dyers to have a colouring power 3 – 4 times stronger than the other ‘insoluble’ redwoods they were using. In the wool industry, camwood was not only used to obtain red colours but a large range of reddish to dark brown colours called ‘drabs’, ‘muddy brown’ and ‘London smoke’, mostly in combination with other dyewoods. In small quantities, it was an ingredient of recipes for bronze-green colours and was used as ground dye followed by a logwood (Haematoxylum campechianum) dye bath. It was used for dark grey and black colours in the wool-cloth industry until the beginning of the 20th century. It was a major source of bright to dark red colours in the big European cotton-printing industries, e.g. to dye bandanas in ‘mock turkey red’, and it was also used, principally in the United Kingdom, to dye silk pink, ‘acid brown’ and ‘light claret’. In West Africa, powdered heartwood is a familiar red body paint that is considered to have magic powers. A paste of the heartwood is much used as a cosmetic for the skin. By soaking the dried and ground roots in water a red liquid is obtained, which is used for painting furniture. In southern Benin and south-western Nigeria, Yoruba ceremonial masks are painted dark red with a decoction of the wood. In Nigeria, Tiv people colour the inside of a gourd prepared as a beehive with the red dye to attract a swarm to settle there and Yoruba honey-hunters rub their body with the dye paste to prevent bee-stings. The dye is found in the heartwood, which often is of small size. It is present in varying concentrations, up to about 23%. The dye is soluble in alkali and alcohol, much less so in water. In the Colour Index the number of the dye is 75560 and it is classified as Natural Red 22, together with other redwoods. The twigs are used as chewing sticks. When freshly cut the sapwood is yellowish white, emitting an unpleasant smell, scarcely darkening when dry. The heartwood is pale brown when fresh, turning rapidly to dark red or orange upon exposure. The wood is extremely hard, heavy and durable, close-grained and of fine texture. It carves and turns well and planes smoothly. The wood is used for house posts, rafters, naves of wheels and utensils such as walking sticks, mortars, pestles, tool-handles and farm implements. It was formerly exported to Europe for turnery and cabinetry.

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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