Herbs & Plants

Bowdichia virgilioides

Botanical Name: Bowdichia virgilioides
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Tribe: Leptolobieae
Genus: Bowdichia
Species:Bowdichia nitida Benth./ Bowdichia virgilioides Kunth

Synonyms: Cebipira virgiliodes (Kunth) Kuntze

Common Names: Alcornoco
Other Names: Bowdichia virgilioides.

Habitat: Bowdichia virgilioides is native to S. America – Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas. It grows in the Rain and savannah forests, favouring more open positions in well-drained soils.

Bowdichia virgilioides is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 18 m (59ft) at a fast rate. The flowers are pollinated by Insects. It can fix Nitrogen. The tree varies in size and habit according to its habitat. In the rainforest it is a large evergreen tree that can grow up to 36 metres tall with a clear bole up to 20 metres long. In the savannah it is rather smaller, perhaps 8 – 16 metres tall, and deciduous with a bole 30 – 50cm in diameter.


The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of wood. It is also exploited commercially for its timber. The tree can be used as a pioneer species for restoring woodland and, since it is extremely ornamental when in bloom, it is suitable for landscaping and is particularly useful for planting along narrow streets.

Succeeds in a sunny position. Found in the wild mainly on well-drained soils, it can succeed in both dry and poor conditions. Established plants are drought tolerant. A fairly fast-growing tree, able to reach a height of around 3 metres within 2 years from seed. 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.

Seed – it 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. Sow the seed in a sunny position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A very low germination rate can be expected from untreated seed, with the seed sprouting within 30 – 60 days. When the seedbed-sown seedlings are 5 – 6cm tall, pot them up into individual containers and they should be ready to plant out 5 – 6 months later.

Medicinal Uses:
The root tubercles and the bark are antirheumatic, astringent, depurative, febrifuge and hypoglycaemic. They are applied externally in the treatment of skin conditions.
The seed oil is rubbed on the skin to treat articular pain. Lupeol and an alkaloid have been isolated from the bark.

.Agroforestry Uses: A fairly fast-growing tree that grows well in full sun, fixes atmospheric nitrogen and can succeed in dry and poor soils. It can be used as a pioneer species when restoring woodland.

Other Uses : The heartwood, is brown to reddish-brown; it is sharply demarcated from the narrow band of almost white sapwood. Lustre is low; growth rings not visible; texture coarse and uneven; grain rarely straight, usually cross or wavy; no distinct odour or taste are present. The wood is hard, strong, stiff, fairly heavy, very durable and very resistant to insect attack. Not easy to work with hand tools, particularly if cross grain is present; it can be planed to a good surface if a low cutting angle is used; rather difficult to nail, but nailing and screw-holding characteristics are good; finishes smoothly and takes a high polish; stains and glues well. A very decorative wood and a good joinery timber, it is used for indoor finishing as floorboards, wainscoting, frames, panels and doors, as well as for hubs, felloes of cartwheels etc

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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