Fabaceae Lindl.

Julbernardia Pellegr.

This genus is accepted, and its native range is Nigeria to Kenya and Namibia.


Leguminosae, J. B. Gillett, R. M. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1971

Morphology General Habit
Unarmed, often evergreen trees
Morphology Leaves
Leaves paripinnate, with leaflets in one to many pairs; stipules intrapetiolar, always connate below, bicuspidate above or with 2 relatively large foliaceous lobes simulating free stipules, ± persistent or very quickly falling off; lobes sometimes somewhat auriculate at base; petiolules usually twisted; leaflets opposite, ± markedly asymmetric at base, with venation prominent on both surfaces; translucent dots often present but sometimes absent (and sometimes inconstant in one species)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers in terminal usually much-branched panicles; bracteoles 2, well-developed, valvate, completely enclosing the flower-buds, persistent, keeled down back
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Hypanthium
Hypanthium absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals 5, well-developed, equal or nearly so in length, ciliate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals 5, equal or nearly so in length, all subequal and well-developed, 1 large and 4 small, or all small
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens 10, fertile; 9 filaments shortly connate below, the tenth free
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Ovary densely pubescent, very shortly stipitate; stipe free; ovules few (up to 5); style elongate; stigma capitate, abruptly enlarged
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Pods compressed, 1–5-seeded, elastically dehiscing into 2 woody valves; valves obliquely transversely nerved (nerves often obscure when pods are ripe); upper suture usually with a flange-like wing or ridge projecting laterally
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds compressed, without areoles, with a hard testa, borne on short funicles.


Legumes of the World. Edited by G. Lewis, B. Schrire, B. MacKinder & M. Lock. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (2005)

muwa, beli, zebrali, awoura
Trees or shrubs
Tropical lowland rain forest and riverine forest, or seasonally dry forest, woodland, bushland and thicket, often forming monodominant stands
c. 5 spp. in Guinea-Congolian WC Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Congo [Kinshasa] and Angola); c. 5 spp. in Zambezian woodland (1 sp. in W Tanzania) and 1 sp. in Zanzibar-Inhambane E Kenya and E Tanzania
This and the following five genera form a strongly supported clade (Gervais & Bruneau, 2002; also called the 'babjit' clade sensu Wieringa & Gervais, 2003), within the exclusively African Macrolobieae clade (sensu Bruneau et al., 2001). The position of J. pellegriniana Troupin (= Paraberlinia Pellegr.) within Julbernardia is uncertain (Bruneau et al., 2001; Wieringa & Gervais, 2003), as sampling remains poor; Thylacanthus Tul., thought to be a monotypic genus from Brazil, is based on a single collection of J. paniculata (Benth.) Troupin from Mozambique (Breteler, pers. comm.)

The Detarieae sens. lat. are pantropical in distribution, with c. 58% of the genera confined to Africa (incl. Madagascar), c. 20% to the Neotropics, and c. 12% to tropical Asia. Only Copaifera, Crudia and Cynometra are pantropical (and all possibly non monophyletic) and Afzelia, Guibourtia, Hymenaea, Intsia and Sindora are native to at least two of these regions. The apparent high level of diversity in the African tropics may in part be an artefact of the (relatively) greater taxonomic effort that has been invested in the study of the African taxa. Characteristic of African Detarieae taxonomy has been the splitting off of disparate elements as segregate genera, while this has often not been the case in the Neotropics. Both regions, however, currently contain large paraphyletic assemblages requiring detailed species-level analysis. Eighty-two genera and from (729) – 747 – (765) species are treated here in Detarieae sens. lat. (Fig. 21). Of the 132 (extant) species so far assessed for IUCN red data status, 97 have categories of threat. Of these 73 are assessed as vulnerable, 13 are endangered and 11 are critically endangered.

The remarkable range and complex patterns of floral modifications found in the Detarieae sens. lat. have proved a considerable challenge to the establishment of widely accepted and clearly circumscribed generic groupings. Based on the work of Léonard (1957) and Cowan & Polhill (1981a & b), ten informal groups of genera were proposed; the Cynometra, Hymenostegia, Hymenaea, Crudia, Detarium and Brownea groups in tribe Detarieae, and the Berlinia, Macrolobium, Amherstia and Brachystegia groups in tribe Amherstieae. Genera with imbricate bracteole aestivation were assigned to Detarieae whilst those with valvate bracteole aestivation were placed in Amherstieae. Polhill (1994) retained these generic groupings with a few additions to accommodate recently described genera, and merged the two tribes into a single broadly defined tribe, Detarieae sens. lat. Breteler (1995) proposed the recognition of two tribes within Detarieae sens. lat., separated according to the relative size and position of the paired bracteoles before anthesis. Essentially, this resulted in the reassignment of Cowan & Polhill’s Amherstia group genera (Amherstia, Tamarindus and Humboldtia) from Amherstieae to Detarieae with the remaining genera forming tribe Macrolobieae. In 1999, Breteler (pers. comm.) proposed a modified Breteler (1995) tribal system in which Macrolobieae was maintained, the circumscription of Detarieae was greatly narrowed and the genera newly excluded from Detarieae were together recognised as Cynometreae sens. strict.

The first comprehensive studies of phylogenetic relationships in tribe Detarieae sens. lat., were the analyses of Bruneau et al. (2000; 2001), based on nucleotide sequence data from the chloroplast trnL intron. They found that tribes Detarieae and Macrolobieae formed a well supported monophyletic group, which included all genera placed previously in Detarieae sens. lat., except Umtiza. Bruneau et al. (2000) examined 71 genera, with the African taxa most widely sampled. The key results of the analysis were that none of the generic groupings proposed by Cowan and Polhill (1981a & b) and Polhill (1994) were supported as strictly monophyletic, and the majority of the members of tribe Macrolobieae (although not Macrolobium) were placed as a monophyletic group derived within Detarieae sens. lat. These analyses also repeatedly recognised a second group of related genera made up entirely of resin-producing taxa, with the exception of some species of Guibourtia. The resins can be seen as translucent gland dots in the leaflets and (sometimes) other organs. Within the resin producing taxa, the genus Prioria and several members of Cowan & Polhill’s Crudia group were consistently placed together (see taxonomic notes under individual genera in main text). Another subclade within the resin-producing Detarieae comprising six members of Polhill’s Detarium group was repeatedly recognised (Bruneau et al., 2000; 2001; Fougère-Danezan et al., 2003). In addition, in the trnL intron analysis, the five sampled members of Cowan and Polhill’s Brownea group were consistently placed together with Macrolobium, although this grouping was not upheld in a more recent molecular and combined molecular-morphological analysis (Herendeen et al., 2003a). Within the exclusively African Macrolobieae of Bruneau et al. (2001), a well supported subclade of six genera was recognised by Gervais & Bruneau (2002) and as the ‘babjit’ clade sensu Wieringa & Gervais (2003). Bruneau et al. (2000; 2001) confirmed the view of Polhill (1994) that the two tribes Detarieae and Macrolobieae (sensu Breteler, 1995) are best considered a single entity. Evidence from ontogenetic studies by Tucker (2000, 2001, 2002a) challenged the validity of bracteole aestivation as a criterion for subdividing Detarieae sens. lat. and identified a set of character states associated with two modes of floral development (Circular and Omega) whose distribution amongst detarioid genera does not support Polhill’s groups.

The analyses of Herendeen et al. (2003a) united a morphological dataset with the chloroplast trnL intron dataset of Bruneau et al. (2001). The combined analysis provided mixed results within Detarieae sens. lat. compared with the molecular dataset alone. Near the base of the clade, and within some subclades, greater resolution was provided but as several groups were not well supported, it would be premature to emphasise the details of this greater resolution. Elsewhere the addition of morphological characters produced weaker resolution and a less robust phylogeny due either to conflicting phylogenetic signal or increased homoplasy in the morphological data or both. The order of taxa followed here (Fig. 21) represents a synthesis of the present understanding of putative relationships within this (perhaps most morphologically diverse) tribe in the Leguminosae. Unsampled genera in the combined analysis are inserted into this order where morphological evidence appears to suggest close relationships.

Whilst significant progress has been made since Polhill (1994), further studies (particularly including the non-African members of the larger and less well understood genera) are needed before a new comprehensive classification of the Detarieae sens. lat., based on a synthesis of all available data, can be established.


Leguminosae, R.K. Brummitt, A.C. Chikuni, J.M. Lock & R.M. Polhill. Flora Zambesiaca 3:2. 2007

Morphology General Habit
Trees, often evergreen, unarmed.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves paripinnate; leaflets 2–many, opposite, asymmetric at base; translucent dots present or not; petiolules usually twisted with secondary nerves from the base on the proximal side of the main nerve, the venation prominent on both surfaces; stipules intrapetiolar, connate below, bilobed, persistent or caducous.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence a terminal panicle; bracteoles 2, valvate, enclosing the flower buds, persistent, keeled on the back.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Hypanthium
Hypanthium absent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals 5, well developed, ± equal.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals 5, one large and four small (in our area).
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens 10, all fertile; nine filaments shortly connate, the tenth free.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Ovary very shortly stipitate, up to 5-ovulate; style elongate; stigma capitate.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Pods flattened, woody, elastically dehiscent into two valves; upper suture usually with a lateral flange-like ridge or wing, 1–5-seeded.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds flattened, without areoles, on short funicles.

Various species used for timber ( zebrali, awoura, beli, muwa ) for construction, quality furniture, carpentry, joinery, panelling and flooring; also used for fibre (roofing, boxes and barrels), firewood, charcoal, dyes, as ornamentals, bee plants and medicine

Native to:

Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cabinda, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Julbernardia Pellegr. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Thomas, D.W. [4156], Cameroon K000092781 No

First published in Boissiera 7: 297 (1943)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R., Nic Lughadha, E., Black, N., Turner, R. & Paton, A. (2021). The World Checklist of Vascular Plants, a continuously updated resource for exploring global plant diversity. Scientific Data 8: 215.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • in Boissiera 7: 298 (1943).

Flora Zambesiaca

  • Léonard in Mém. Acad. Roy. Sci. Belg. 30(2): 188 (1957).
  • in Boissiera 7: 297 (1943).

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Hauman in Bull. Inst. Roy. Col. Belge 23: 477 (1952)
  • J. Léon. in Mém. 8°, Classe Sci., Acad. Roy. Belg. 30(2): 188 (1957)
  • Troupin in B.J.B.B. 20: 309 (1950), pro parte
  • in Boissiera 7: 297 (1943)

  • Flora Zambesiaca

    Flora Zambesiaca

  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Legumes of the World Online