Data sources

Taylor (1960), Voorhoeve (1965), Hall & Swaine (1981), Lock (1989), Hawthorne (1995a)

Erythrophleum suaveolens (Guill. & Perr.) Brenan



Guild: np

Life form: medium-sized tree

Max. diameter: 90 cm (Taylor 1960)

Leaf: alternate, bipinnately compound, 4-8 opposite pinnae each with 7-12 leaflets, ovate to elliptic, microphyll (2.5-6.5 x 2.5-8 cm)

Inflorescence: terminal, branched (panicle)

Flower: small; corolla yellow to white

Fruit: dry dehiscent (3 x 11 cm); 5-10 seeds

Other: a widely-spreading tree, with foliage pendulous at the ends of the sinuous branches in a rounded or spherical, slightly irregular crown. The flush of new leaves is red. It has no buttresses. It has nitrogen-fixing nodules.


Continent: widespread in Africa, Asia (Lock 1989) Upper Guinea: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo

Forest type: moist semi-deciduous forest, woodland savanna, riverine forest (Hawthorne 1995a).

Germination is irregular, and growth is slow (Taylor 196G).


Deciduousness: deciduous (Taylor 1960) Dispersal: no obvious means of dispersal Timing: flowering period from July to September; fruiting period from March to June (Taylor 1960)



It is well-known because of its poisonous bark used in trials of ordeal (Hawthorne 1995a).

The abundance of Erythrophleum spp. as a group declines with soil fertility (regression analysis). In parts of Togo, it dominates patches of 25 year old fallow vegetation (Guelly et al. 1993). In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it comes to dominate forest in a Brachystegia woodland area with a regime of early-burning or complete fire protection (Schmitz 1952).

Data sources

Schmitz (1952), Taylor (1960), Halliday & Nakao (1982), Lock (1989), Guelly et al. (1993), Hawthorne (1995a)

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