Andira inermis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Andira inermis (W. Wright) DC.

Family: Leguminosae - Papilionoideae


  • Andira jamaicensis (W. Wright) Urban,
  • A. excelsa Kunth.

Vernacular names

  • Angelin, cabbage tree, brown heart (En). Cabbage angelin, cabbage bark (Am).
  • Angelin (palmiste) (Fr).


A. inermis occurs naturally in Central America from southern Mexico to western Costa Rica and the West Indies, and in tropical Africa from Senegal to Sudan and Uganda. It has been introduced into botanical gardens in Singapore and Malaysia.


In Puerto Rico A. inermis is widely grown as a shade tree in coffee plantations. Because of its very low branching, it has been proposed as a wind-break in Malaysia. The wood produces good timber. Smaller stems are used for poles. In the West Indies the bark is used as a vermifuge and the seeds are said to have purgative and narcotic properties. In Africa a decoction of the leaves is used as a beverage and for washing, and the fruit is eaten. The tree is regarded as a good honey tree and has also been planted for ornamental purposes.


  • Deciduous tree up to 15(-30) m tall; bole usually short, in Malaysia reported to bear branches almost at base, but straight and cylindrical up to 50(-100) cm in diameter; crown columnar or pyramidal to spreading; bark fissured and scaly, with an unpleasant cabbage-like smell.
  • Leaves alternate, imparipinnate, 15-40 cm long, with 7-17 leaflets.
  • Flowers in much-branched panicles of 15-60 cm long; calyx bell-shaped, 3-5 mm long, purplish, with 5 small teeth; corolla 12-15 mm long, deep pink to purplish-red.
  • Fruit a 1-seeded pod, fleshy outside, hard within, 4-8 cm × 3-5 cm.

A. inermis grows in a wide range of habitats, from evergreen tropical rain forest to dry savanna vegetation, on well-drained sandy soils as well as on poorly drained clay soils, in plains and on hill slopes. It fixes nitrogen, but grows slowly. It is quite variable and several subspecies are distinguished.

Selected sources

  • de Zeeuw, C. & Gray, R.L., 1975. Andira spp. (Leguminosae): Andira coriacea Pulle; Andira inermis H.B.K.; Andira retusa H.B.K.; Andira surinamensis (Bondt.) Splitg. ex Pulle. Brief, Tropical Timber Information Centre, No 1. 3 pp.
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa (various editors), 1952-. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom & A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Herwitz, S.R., 1981. Regeneration of selected tropical tree species in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica. Geography 24: 44-48.
  • National Academy of Sciences, 1979. Tropical legumes: resources for the future. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., United States. 331 pp.
  • Polhill, R.M., 1969. Notes on East African Dalbergieae Bronn (Leguminosae). Kew Bulletin 23: 483-490.
  • Weaver, P.L. & Birdsey, A., 1986. Tree succession and management opportunities in coffee shade stands. Turrialba 36: 47-58.


  • M.S.M. Sosef & L.J.G. van der Maesen