Biancaea sappan

Biancaea sappan (L.) Tod.

Family     : Caesalpiniaceae

Common Name : പതിമുഖം (Mal)

: पतम्ग (Hin)

: Sappan Wood (Eng)

IUCN Status : Least concern (LC) -

Sappan Wood is a small thorny tree, 6-9 m in height and 15-25 cm in trunk diameter with a few prickly branches. Leaves are double-compound, alternately arranged, 20-45 cm long, 10-20 cm broad, with 8-16 pairs of up to 20 cm long side-stalks. Side-stalks are prickles at the base and with 10-20 pairs of oblong, 10-20 mm x 6-10 mm long leaflets, very oblique at base, rounded to notched at the tip. Yellow flowers are borne panicles in leaf axils and at the end of branches. Flowers fragrant, 2-3 cm long, 5-merous. Stamens are waxy-white, filaments densely woolly at the base. Fruits are woody pods, compressed with a hard recurved short beak, with 3-4 seeds. The heartwood which is used in medicine is light yellow when freshly cut, but it quickly changes to red. The color diffuses out easily in hot water. In about 7-10 hours the extract becomes deep orange in color. Sappan-wood was a major trade good during the 17th century, when it was exported from Southeast Asian nations aboard red seal ships to Japan.

Trees, to 10 m high, sparsely armed with short straight or recurved prickles. Leaves bipinnate, alternate; stipules spiniform, to 3-5 mm long; rachis 20-40 cm long, slender, pubescent, pulvinate; pinnae 10-14 pairs, 2.5-10 cm long, slender; a spine present at the junction between pinnae pairs on the upper side; leaflets20-40, opposite, subsessile; lamina 1-2.5 x 0.5-1 cm, oblong, base oblique, obtuse, apex obtuse, emarginate, margin entire, glabrous, coriaceous; lateral nerves 5-15 pairs, pinnate, faint, intercostae obscure. Flowers bisexual, yellow, in supra-axillary and terminal racemes; pedicels 1-2 cm long; sepals 5, unequal; petals 5, orbicular, subequal, with red spot at the base; stamens 10, declinate, densely woolly at base; ovary half inferior, grey-velvety. Fruit a pod, 7-10 x 3-4 cm, obliquely oblong, black, glabrous; seeds black, oblong or ellipsoid.

Use: Wood is yields a dye. The decoction gives relief in mild cases of dysentery and diarrhea. Water boiled with wood is used for drinking.

Distribution : Indo-Malesia

Flowering & Fruiting : August-December