Species of the week

Afzelia quanzensis, a species with a huge cultural value in Africa.

Scientific name: Afzelia quanzensis

Common name: mahogany bean, lucky bean tree, afzelia

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Fabales

Size: 4-24m height (max 35m)

Statute for Mozambique: Near Threatened


Description

Afzelia quanzensis is a tree with a huge crown when adult and with a trunk of approximately 1m in diameter. The trunk has a smooth bark, gray -green or yellow-brown and sometimes with irregular circular patterns.

The leaves are alternate, with 30cm in length, divided between 4-7 pairs of follicles. The new foliage has copper and bright color, becoming dark green with age.

The buds of flowers are green and are positioned in very short terminal bunches.

It flourish between October to December, with flowers of a sweet aroma, green and with pink/red petals.

The fruit is a woody pod, dark brown and usually has approximately 12-23cm in length, containing 6-10 black seeds with an oblique shape and with one of the sides in red or orange.

The pods are produced in late summer and in fall they open up, releasing the seeds.

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Distribution

This species can be found in Africa in countries like Somalia, Kenya, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Ecology

This species is well adapted to sandy soils, well-drained. It grows in lowland and deciduous forests, dense thick, around basins of lakes or on the banks of dry forests. It is usually the dominant species when it occurs in deep and sandy soils.

It is very resistant to drought, but sensitive and with a slow-growing in cold areas.

The bark and the leaves serve as food for the larvae of butterflies, elephants and other herbivore species.

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Cultural aspects

  • The leaves are used for food;
  • The wood is widely used because of its properties, being very resistant to termites. It is used for construction, plywood manufacture and furniture. Its trade name is chanfuta;
  • The seeds are used for ornamental purposes, necklaces manufacturing, earrings, and other props;
  • The roots are used as medicine against gonorrhea, chest pain, kidney problems, bilharzia, eye problems and for snakebites.
  • Its bark is used by people with eczema and for toothaches.

Curiosities

  • In South Africa, Afzelia quanzensis is a protected species;
  • It is believed that the infusion made from the roots and bark gives good luck to hunters, when they wash themselves with that overnight;
  • The mixture of the bark with a specific oil is used against bad luck.

Sources

Pictures