Faurea saligna (PROTA)
|Geographic coverage Africa|
|Geographic coverage World|
|Carbohydrate / starch|
|Dye / tannin|
|Forage / feed|
Faurea saligna Harv.
- Protologue: London Journ. Bot. 6: 373, t. 15 (1847).
- Family: Proteaceae
Red beech, African beech, African red beech, beechwood (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Faurea saligna occurs from DR Congo, Rwanda and Kenya south to Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and northern and eastern South Africa.
The wood is used for poles and posts in construction, joinery, panelling, furniture, utensils, ornaments and fence posts. It is suitable for flooring, railway sleepers, toys, novelties, tool handles, carvings, turnery, veneer and plywood. It is also used as firewood and for charcoal production.
Roots, bark and leaves are used in traditional medicine. Root decoctions and infusions are administered to treat diarrhoea, indigestion, colic, cough, venereal diseases, schistosomiasis and dysmenorrhoea. Bark decoctions are taken against venereal diseases, schistosomiasis, rheumatism, headache and skin complaints, and as tonic. Leaf preparations are applied to treat pneumonia, lumbago, colic, intestinal parasites, headache and skin complaints. The bark has been used for tanning leather and provides a red dye. The tree is planted as windbreak and for mulch, and occasionally as ornamental in large gardens and parks. The flowers are visited by honey bees, which collect nectar; the honey is blackish and has a strong, aromatic and malty flavour.
Heartwood yellowish brown to pinkish brown or reddish brown and rather indistinctly demarcated from the slightly paler sapwood. The grain is interlocked, texture moderately coarse. The wood has a distinct net-like pattern of darker spots on tangential surfaces, and horizontal bands on radial surfaces.
The wood is medium-weight, with a density of 720–770 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. It air dries fairly well but slowly, without splitting or warping but with slight surface checking. The rates of shrinkage are high. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is about 89 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 11,560 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 60 N/mm², shear 13.5 N/mm² and Janka side hardness 7370 N.
The wood saws and works well with machine tools, and it can be planed, mortised and polished with good results. Radial surfaces may show some picking up of grain. The nailing properties are satisfactory. The wood produces good-quality veneer by slicing and peeling. It turns well. It is moderately durable to fairly durable, having some resistance to termites and wood borers. Boles of young trees are not suitable for use as poles or fence posts in contact with the ground, but those of older trees are more durable.
Evergreen small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–27) m tall; bole branchless for up to 10 m, straight or twisted, slender, up to 60 cm in diameter, sometimes swollen at base; bark surface longitudinally fissured, dark greyish brown to blackish, inner bark yellowish with pink or red border; crown fairly open, with spreading branches; twigs pendent, greyish short-hairy, becoming glabrous. Leaves alternate, usually clustered near ends of twigs, simple; stipules absent; petiole up to 1.5 cm long, pinkish to red; blade lanceolate-elliptical, up to 16 cm × 3.5 cm, cuneate at base, acute at apex, margins entire or slightly wavy, leathery, glabrous, glaucous green, pinnately veined with indistinct lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal, dense spike up to 15 cm long, greyish short-hairy. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, 4-merous, sessile; perianth tubular in bud, c. 12 mm long, splitting into 4 reflexing lobes, one nearly free, the others fused almost to apex, pale pinkish green; stamens fused to perianth lobes; ovary superior, with long straight hairs, 1-celled, style long and slender. Fruit a small, globose nut covered with silky white hairs, 1-seeded.
Other botanical information
Trees grow moderately slowly. In southern Africa flowering trees can be found from August to February and fruits ripen 2–3 months later. The flowers are fragrant with a sweet smell and rich in nectar, and attract bees, which are probably the major pollinators.
Faurea comprises about 15 species and occurs in mainland Africa, but one species is endemic to Madagascar.
Faurea rochetiana (A.Rich.) Pic.Serm. (synonym: Faurea speciosa Welw.) is quite similar to Faurea saligna and has been much confused in literature with the latter. It differs in its usually wider leaves, which are hairy below, and has an even larger area of distribution, from Nigeria east to Ethiopia and south to South Africa. Its wood is used for similar purposes, and the tree is used for other purposes which are also comparable to Faurea saligna.
Some other Faurea spp. have been confused with Faurea saligna, particularly Faurea arborea Engl., Faurea delevoyi De Wild. and Faurea wentzeliana Engl., which are all medium-sized trees, occasionally up to 30 m tall. This means that information published under Faurea saligna may refer to another species or to a mixture of species.
Faurea forficuliflora Baker is a small tree up to 10(–20) m tall, with a bole up to 50 cm in diameter, endemic to Madagascar, where it is widespread in the central regions up to 2500 m altitude. Its hard, yellowish brown wood has been used for fence posts.
Faurea macnaughtonii E.Phillips is restricted to South Africa and Swaziland, where it occurs in few, scattered populations. Its brown to dark brown, nicely figured wood, which is heavy (with a density of about 950 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content) and hard, has been valued for furniture, but the tree is now protected.
Faurea saligna occurs in woodland, often together with Brachystegia spp., and grassland with scattered trees, at 700–2000 m altitude, in regions with a mean annual rainfall to as low as 500 mm. It can be found on sandy or loamy soils, and on rocky ridges. Trees are slightly fire-tolerant, but do not survive fierce fires.
There are about 165,000 nuts per kg. Fresh nuts should be sown in well-drained soil; they may lose viability within a month. The germination rate is reported to be variable, from poor to fair.
Faurea saligna is widespread and locally common, and there are no indications that it is in threat of genetic erosion.
Faurea saligna and other Faurea spp. do not have good prospects as timber trees of more economic importance because the logs are usually too small and trees grow too slowly. However, as multi-purpose trees valuable for local timber production, in local medicine, and as auxiliary tree, bee forage and ornamental tree, they deserve protection. Phytochemical and pharmacological studies are recommended in view of the wide use of Faurea spp. in traditional medicine.
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- R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Correct citation of this article
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2011. Faurea saligna Harv. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Louppe, D. & Oteng-Amoako, A.A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.
Accessed 4 August 2021.
- See the Prota4U database.