Ormocarpum pubescens (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Ormocarpum pubescens (Hochst.) Cufod. ex Gillett


Protologue: Kew Bull. 20(2): 348 (1966).
Family: Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)

Synonyms

  • Ormocarpum bibracteatum (Hochst. ex A.Rich.) Baker (1871).

Origin and geographic distribution

Ormocarpum pubescens is distributed from Senegal eastwards to Eritrea and Ethiopia but has not yet been collected in a number of countries in between.

Uses

The resilient stems of Ormocarpum pubescens are bent after they have been softened over a fire and made into circular bands for roof construction, into frames for fishing-nets and into traps. The species has considerable value as an ornamental. In Eritrea the branches are burnt to provide a smoke bath that is used, most often by women, for smoothening the skin and to give it an attractive tint.

Properties

The branches are not only soft and flexible but also very strong and therefore especially valued by hunters for making traps for big game. The bruised leaves smell like gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa L.).

Botany

Small tree up to 8 m tall, with narrow crown, grey pubescent all over; bole up to 12 cm in diameter, usually divided low down into vertical stems with few lateral branches. Leaves alternate on young stems, in whorls of 2–4 on old branches, imparipinnately compound with ( 10–)13–17(–25) leaflets; stipules ovate to triangular, 4–7 mm long; rachis up to 7 cm long; leaflets opposite, sub-opposite or alternate, elliptical-oblong, 6–10 mm × 4 mm, with a small mucro at apex, glabrous above, slightly white soft-hairy below. Flowers few in short racemes clustered at the ends of short shoots, bisexual, papilionaceous; pedicel up to 1.5 cm long with a pair of ovate bracteoles near the apex; calyx 8–10 mm long; corolla c. 2 cm long, reddish with purple veins and mottles; stamens 10, fused into 2 groups of 5; ovary superior, curved, 1-celled, style slender, c. 10 mm long. Fruit a flat pod 2–3.5 cm long, usually coiled but sometimes straight, pubescent, minutely tuberculate, black when ripe, indehiscent, (2–)4–5(–6)-segmented.

Ormocarpum pubescens probably grows slowly, with growth restricted to the slow extension of the short shoots which produce flowers and leaves at their tips. Flowering is during the first half of the dry season when the plant is leafless.

The genus Ormocarpum comprises c. 18 species of which 17 occur in tropical Africa. It is related to Ormocarpopsis, a genus endemic to Madagascar, which does not have segmented pods. In the literature there is considerable confusion concerning Ormocarpum pubescens and Ormocarpum kirkii S.Moore. The latter is distributed from southern Somalia southwards to Transvaal in South Africa. Ormocarpum verrucosum P.Beauv. is a shrub up to 4 m tall, distributed from Senegal to Angola near beaches on sandy soils and in brackish swamps. Its stems are used in the same way as those of Ormocarpum pubescens.

Ecology

Ormocarpum pubescens occurs up to 2100 m altitude in woodland in the Sudanian climate zone, usually on rocky outcrops, coarse grained soils and shallow soils.

Genetic resources

Although Ormocarpum pubescens has a wide distribution, it is uncommon and individual plants are often far apart. As the species is apparently not heavily exploited, the risk of genetic erosion seems low.

Prospects

The use of Ormocarpum pubescens will remain important only locally. The species has considerable potential as an ornamental plant.

Major references

  • Arbonnier, M., 2000. Arbres, arbustes et lianes des zones sèches d’Afrique de l’Ouest. CIRAD, MNHN, UICN. 541 pp.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1995. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Families J–L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 857 pp.
  • Keay, R.W.J., Onochie, C.F.A. & Stanfield, D.P., 1964. Nigerian trees. Volume 2. Department of Forest Research, Ibadan, Nigeria. 495 pp.

Other references

  • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
  • Aubréville, A., 1950. Flore forestière soudano-guinéenne. Société d’Editions Géographiques, Maritimes et Coloniales, Paris, France. 533 pp.
  • Ghebru, B. & Mehari, T. (Editors), 2007. Innovative agricultural approaches of promoting food security in Eritrea: trends, challenges and opportunities for growth. Proceedings of ta Workshop of the Association of Eritreans in Agricultural Sciences (AEAS). Geographica Bernensia, Bern, Switzerland. 169 pp.
  • Gillett, J.B., 1966. Ormocarpum Beauv. & Arthrocarpum Balf.f. (Leguminosae) in south-westen Asia and Africa (excluding Madagascar). Kew Bulletin 20: 323–355.
  • Hauman, L., Cronquist, A., Léonard, J., Schubert, B., Duvigneaud, P. & Dewit, J., 1954. Papilionaceae (deuxième partie). In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 5. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. 377 pp.
  • Hepper, F.N., 1958. Papilionaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 505–587.
  • Thulin, M., 1989. Fabaceae (Leguminosae). In: Hedberg, I. & Edwards, S. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia. Volume 3. Pittosporaceae to Araliaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 49–251.

Author(s)

  • C.H. Bosch, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Bosch, C.H., 2011. Ormocarpum pubescens (Hochst.) Cufod. ex Gillett. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 12 November 2020.