Family:
Fabaceae Lindl.

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.

[ILDIS]

International Legume Database and Information Service

Conservation
Not Threatened
Ecology
Africa: Guineo-Congolian forest.
Morphology General Habit
Perennial, Not climbing, Tree

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description

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 dewevrei is 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 dewevrei migrate 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

Morphology General Habit
Forest tree, to 125 ft. high, with clear bole and no buttresses
Morphology General Bark
Bark yellowish-brown, scaly
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals wine-red
Ecology
Gregarious, often in swamp forest.

[ILDIS]

International Legume Database and Information Service

Conservation
Insufficiently known
Ecology
Africa: Guineo-Congolian forest.
Morphology General Habit
Perennial, Not climbing, Tree

[ILDIS]
Use
Food and Drink, Wood

[KSP]
Use
Timber and traditional medicine.

Native to:

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

English
Abeum

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

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Jul 1, 2009 Cheek, M. [11127], Cameroon K000338966 No
Oct 1, 2007 Cheek, M. [11066], Cameroon K000437182 No
Oct 1, 2007 Cheek, M. [11231], Cameroon K000436129 No
Oct 1, 2007 Mackinder, B. [501], Cameroon K000436590 No
Oct 1, 2007 Mackinder, B. [499], Cameroon K000437436 No
Oct 1, 2007 Mackinder, B. [509], Cameroon K000436688 No
Oct 1, 2007 Cheek, M. [11231], Cameroon K000338218 No
Mar 1, 2007 Burgt, X.M. van der [905], Cameroon K000460338 No
Mar 1, 2007 Burgt, X.M. van der [905], Cameroon K000460337 No
Nov 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11497], Cameroon K000338960 No
Nov 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [508], Cameroon K000338964 No
Nov 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [498], Cameroon K000338959 No
Nov 1, 2005 Darbyshire, I. [299], Cameroon K000338957 No
Nov 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [507], Cameroon K000338963 No
Nov 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11199], Cameroon K000338956 No
Oct 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11191], Cameroon K000338230 No
Oct 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11198], Cameroon K000338251 No
May 1, 2005 Mackinder, B. [511], Cameroon K000338192 No
May 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11691], Cameroon K000338193 No
Jan 1, 1976 Letouzey, R. [15041], Cameroon K000092701 No
Troupin, G. [4353], Congo, DRC 11473.000 No
Fay, J.M. [8659], Central African Republic 63256.000 No
Troupin, G. [4503], Congo, DRC 9268.000 No
Troupin, G. [2441], Congo, DRC 9270.000 No
Mildbraed [7774], Cameroon K000417633 isotype Yes
Mildbraed [7774], Cameroon K000417634 Yes
Thomas, D.W. [3224], Cameroon K000092702 No
Dewèvre, A.A. [949], Congo, DRC Macrolobium dewevrei K000858667 syntype Yes

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

Accepted by

  • Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS G: 1-40325.
  • Lejoy, J., Ndjele, M.-B. & Geerinck, D. (2010). Catalogue-flore des plantes vasculaires des districts de Kisangani et de la Tshopo (RD Congo) Taxonomania 30: 1-307.
  • Lock, J.M. (1989). Legumes of Africa a check-list: 1-619. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo, ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Burkill, H. M. (1995). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa. Edition 2. Vol. 3. Families J-L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Lewis, G., Schrire, B., Mackinder, B. & Lock, M. (eds.) (2005). Legumes of the World. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • Fl. Congo Belge 3: 429, photo 15.
  • in Bull. Jard. Bot. Brux. 22: 190 (1952)

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Lock, J.M. (1989). Legumes of Africa a check-list: 1-619. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

International Legume Database and Information Service

  • Robyns, W. (Ed.) (1952). Flore du Congo Belge, Vol. 3. Mimosoideae, Caesalpinoideae
  • White, F. (1983). The Vegetation of Africa

  • Flora of West Tropical Africa

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

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

  • International Legume Database and Information Service

    International Legume Database and Information Service (ILDIS) V10.39 Nov 2011
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

  • Kew Species Profiles

    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0