Botanical Name: Dalbergia hupeana
Species: D. latifolia
Habitat: Dalbergia hupeana is native to E Asia.
CHINA: Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong, Shanxi. Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; Laos; Vietnam. It is found in forested areas on mountain slopes, in ravines and along streams, between 800 and 1400 m asl.
Dalbergia hupeana is a deciduous tree that can grow from 10 – 20 metres tall. The bole can be in excess of 55cm in diameter. Bark is very shaggy, dull grey. Branchlets pale green, glabrous. Leaves imparipinnate; leaflets 7–11, elliptic to oblong, 3.5–6 × 2.5–4 cm, sub-leathery, upper surface shiny, margins entire, apex obtuse or slightly emarginate. Panicles terminal, sometimes also in the upper leaf axils, 15–20 × 10–20 cm; sparsely covered with rusty pubescence. Flowers white or pale purple; calyx campanulate, 0.2–0.3 cm long; standard petal circular, emarginate, wing petals obovate and half-moon shaped, keel petals auriculate; stamens 10, in two bundles of five. Lomentum oblong to broadly ligulate, 4–7 × 1.3–1.5 cm, thinly leathery, containing one to two (to three) seeds; seeds kidney-shaped. Flowering May to July, fruiting September to October (China). Chen & Nielsen 2006.
Dalbergia hupeana is a somewhat cold-hardy tree, tolerating temperatures down to around -10 to -15°c when dormant. It has been little cultivated outside its native range, but is growing well at several Arboreta in the eastern states of USA. It seems to appreciate hot, humid summers and moderately cold winters.
The plant is usually very late coming into leaf, often not even swelling its buds until early summer and, indeed, looking completely dead at this time.
Seed. Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve 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.
Perhaps leaves were eaten. Probably only in times of shortage when better foods were not available. Inner bark. A famine food. It is considered to be slightly poisonous, but mixed with elm bark (Ulmus species) and pulverized, it may be used as a food in times of famine.
The leaves are antiphlogistic, parasiticide. The leaves are used to treat traumatic injuries, abscesses and boils. They are crushed and applied topically as a powder or as a wash when mixed with water – as well as killing parasites the wash is used to resolve bruises, break up blood clots and reduce swellings.
The bark of both trunk and root is used in medicine. It is considered to be slightly poisonous, but is used as an external application (presumably in the form of a poultice) to treat scabies and parasitic skin diseases.
The leaves are used as an insecticide.
To kill maggots, the leaves are crushed into a fine powder then thrown into the excreta. This seems to suggest that the application is to kill maggots living in human and other animal faeces.
The wood is close-grained, hard, durable, very strong. Of excellent quality, it is used to make oil presses, spokes, tool handles etc.
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