1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Genus: Gilbertiodendron J.Léonard
      1. Gilbertiodendron dewevrei (De Wild.) J.Léonard

        A large, evergreen tree of the African tropical humid forest,  Gilbertiodendron dewevrei is an example of a species that can grow gregariously. That is to say, numerous individuals may grow together in the absence, or virtual absence, of large trees of any other species. Consequently, there are areas of forest in the Congo basin that are dominated by  G. dewevrei, sometimes in almost pure stands. A handful of other tropical African forest trees from the pea and bean family (Leguminosae; Fabaceae sensu APG III 2009), such as  Cynometra alexandri and  Julbernardia seretii, share this tendency to form forests dominated by a single species.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Gilbertiodendron dewevrei is a large, evergreen tree that dominates forests in parts of central Africa.

    A large, evergreen tree of the African tropical humid forest,  Gilbertiodendron dewevrei is an example of a species that can grow gregariously. That is to say, numerous individuals may grow together in the absence, or virtual absence, of large trees of any other species. Consequently, there are areas of forest in the Congo basin that are dominated by  G. dewevrei, sometimes in almost pure stands. A handful of other tropical African forest trees from the pea and bean family (Leguminosae; Fabaceae sensu APG III 2009), such as  Cynometra alexandri and  Julbernardia seretii, share this tendency to form forests dominated by a single species.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Gilbertiodendron dewevreiis found in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

    Description

    Overview:A large tree of lowland humid African forest, Gilbertiodendron dewevrei is often found in swampy areas. Despite growing up to 45 m tall and 2 m in diameter, it does not have buttresses (woody fins at the base of the tree to help support it).

    Leaves: The leaves are compound, with 2–5 pairs of leaflets and have conspicuous stipules (leaf-like appendages) at the base of the leaf stem. It is an evergreen species and replaces its leaves almost continuously throughout the year. The young leaf shoots are reddish-purple in colour.

    Flowers: Each flower has two bracteoles, three stamens (male parts) and a single large bright red petal; a colour which does not occur often in the genus. Most other species of Gilbertiodendron have a single white petal.

    The trees usually flower once a year, but sometimes they skip a year. All Gilbertiodendron dewevrei trees in the forest flower simultaneously; during flowering the air is filled with the scent of the flowers and the ground is covered in the red petals.

    Explosive fruits

    The woody pods (fruits) are large (up to 30 cm long), flattened and covered in brown hairs. There is usually a single longitudinal nerve along the pod face near the upper margin. When pods open at maturity, they do so with explosive force. Nevertheless, because the seeds are large and heavy, they do not travel far. It has been estimated that populations of Gilbertiodendron dewevreimigrate only about 100 m every 200-300 years through successful seed dispersal and germination.

    Uses

    The wood is used in west-central Africa for construction work (such as boat-building) and other forms of carpentry such as making agricultural tools, furniture and toys. In traditional medicine, a decoction of the bark is used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery and to heal sores. The seeds are eaten in times of food shortage; they are also eaten by forest rodents, elephants and gorillas.

    This species at Kew

    Dried and alcohol-preserved specimens of Gilbertiodendron dewevrei are held in Kew’s Herbarium where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Specimens of the wood and bark are held in the Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Building and are available to researchers by appointment.

    Discoveries in Congo

    During botanical inventory work in Congo (Kinshasa), Kew botanist Xander van der Burgt noted that local tribesmen constructed umbrellas from the large juvenile leaves of this species, sewing the leaflets together with climbing stems from other plants. He also noted that their children made toys out of the large seeds.

    Kew's work on this genus

    Kew scientist Xander van der Burgt has recently published an article on the Gilbertiodendron ogoouense species complex, in which eight new species are described and one species is reinstated and transferred to Gilbertiodendron.

    Read the article on the Gilbertiodendron ogoouense species complex

    Distribution
    Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon
    Ecology
    Lowland humid forest.
    Conservation
    Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria, but this widespread species is likely to be of Least Concern (LC).
    [FWTA]

    Caesalpiniaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:2. 1958

    Habit
    Forest tree, to 125 ft. high, with clear bole and no buttresses
    Bark
    Bark yellowish-brown, scaly
    Corolla
    Petals wine-red
    Ecology
    Gregarious, often in swamp forest.
    [KSP]
    Use
    Timber and traditional medicine.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Cabinda, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, Zaïre

    Common Names

    English
    Abeum

    Gilbertiodendron dewevrei (De Wild.) J.Léonard appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jul 1, 2009 Cheek, M. [11127], Cameroon K000338966
    Oct 1, 2007 Cheek, M. [11066], Cameroon K000437182
    Oct 1, 2007 Mackinder, B. [501], Cameroon K000436590
    Oct 1, 2007 Mackinder, B. [499], Cameroon K000437436
    Oct 1, 2007 Mackinder, B. [509], Cameroon K000436688
    Oct 1, 2007 Cheek, M. [11231], Cameroon K000338218
    Oct 1, 2007 Cheek, M. [11231], Cameroon K000436129
    Mar 1, 2007 Burgt, X.M. van der [905], Cameroon K000460337
    Mar 1, 2007 Burgt, X.M. van der [905], Cameroon K000460338
    Nov 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11199], Cameroon K000338956
    Nov 1, 2005 Darbyshire, I. [299], Cameroon K000338957
    Nov 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [498], Cameroon K000338959
    Nov 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11497], Cameroon K000338960
    Nov 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [507], Cameroon K000338963
    Nov 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [508], Cameroon K000338964
    Oct 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11191], Cameroon K000338230
    Oct 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11198], Cameroon K000338251
    May 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [511], Cameroon K000338192
    May 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11691], Cameroon K000338193
    Jan 1, 1976 Letouzey, R. [15041], Cameroon K000092701
    Troupin, G. [4503], Congo, DRC 9268.000
    Troupin, G. [2441], Congo, DRC 9270.000
    Thomas, D.W. [3224], Cameroon K000092702
    Fay, J.M. [8659], Central African Republic 63256.000
    Troupin, G. [4353], Congo, DRC 11473.000
    Mildbraed [7774], Cameroon K000417633 isotype
    Mildbraed [7774], Cameroon K000417634

    First published in Bull. Jard. Bot. État Bruxelles 22: 190 (1952)

    Accepted in:

    • [4] Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo , ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
    • [5] Govaerts, R. (2003) World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS G: 1-40325
    • [8] Lock, J.M. (1989) Legumes of Africa a check-list . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    Literature

    • [1] Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161: 105-121.
    • [2] (2008) Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • [3] Lewis, G., Schrire, B., Mackinder, B. & Lock, M. (eds.) (2005). Legumes of the World. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [6] Blake, S. & Fay, M. (1997). Seed production by Gilbertiodendron dewevrei in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, Congo, and its implications for large mammals. Journal of Tropical Ecology 14: 885–891.
    • [7] Burkill, H. M. (1995). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa. Edition 2. Vol. 3. Families J-L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [9] Fl. Congo Belge 3: 429, photo 15.
    • [10] in Bull. Jard. Bot. Brux. 22: 190 (1952)

    Sources

    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    [A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [B] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [C] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [D]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [E] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [F] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0