Pterocarpus indicus Willd.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Sometimes recommended as an ornamental avenue tree. The reddish hard wood is
an excellent timber in southern Asia. Listed among the most valuable timbers
in the Philippines. Used for cabinetry, cart wheels, carving, construction,
furniture, and musical instruments. Planted occasionally in Puerto Rico for
shade and ornament (Little and Wadsworth, 1964). The young leaves and flowers
are said to be eaten. The flowers are a honey source. The leaf infusion is
used as a shampoo. The beautiful, termite resistant, rose-scented timber is
marketed as Amboyna, Blanco's Narra, Burmese Rosewood, Malay Padauk, Narra,
Philippine Mahogany, Prickly Narra, and Tenasserim Mahogany. The wood gives a
reddish dye, more fugitive than that of Pterocarpus santolinus. It is
also a source of kino.
According to Hartwell (19671971), the red latex is used in folk remedies for
tumors, the plant for cancers, especially of the mouth. Endo and Miyazaki
(1972) reported that the leaves "significantly inhibited the growth of Ehrlich
ascites carcinoma cells in mice. A dried cold water extract of the leaves
injected in mice bearing Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. All controls died within
21 days; of the treated group, 40/50 survived more than 84 days. The nuclei
and cytoplasm of tumor cells became soft and larger, and then disintegrated.
The active principle was isolated by gel filtration of aqueous extract. It was
an acidic polypepticide, consisting of 17 amino acids. The LD50 in mice is 122
mg/kg i.p. Malayans apply the kino to sores of the mouth, and the root juice
to syphilitic sores (Burkill, 1966). Javanese apply the young leaves to boils,
prickly heat and ulcers. In the Carolyn Islands, finely powdered leaves are
applied to a ruptured vagina. The kino, containing kinotannic acid, was once
administered in diarrhea, often combined with opium (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis,
1977). Reported to be antibilious, emetic, and sternutatory, Malay padauk is a
folk remedy for bladder ailments, diarrhea, dropsy, headache, sores, stones,
thrush, and tumors of the abdomen (Duke and Wain, 1981). Lignum
nephriticum (Latin for kidneywood) was the wood of this Philippine species
and also of kidneywood (Eysenhardtia polystachya) from Mexico. It was
known throughout Europe from the 16th to early 18th centuries for its reputed
diuretic properties but is no longer employed in medicine. However, infusions
of the wood are fluorescent, and this odd response to light may have been
associated with remedies.
Wood contains the red coloring matters, narrin and santalin, and angolensin.
Narrin is a dark red amorphous powder which yields phloroglucinol and
resorcinol on fusion with alkali. Hager's Handbook (List and Horhammer,
19691979) reports pterocarpin and pterostilben homopterocarpin, prunetin
(prunusetin), formonoetin, isoliquiritigenin, p-hydroxyhydratropic acid,
pterofuran, pterocarpol, and b-eudesmol. Distilled wood gives a moderately
heavy tar. Cups made from the wood and chips of wood impart to water a
beautiful blue and yellow color, which changes in light and shadow (Little and
Large, deciduous tree, 30 m or more high, with large and high buttresses.
Stipules caducous, linear, ca 715 mm long, hairy on both sides. Leaves ca
1222 cm long in all, the petiole ca 24 cm, the rachis ca 618 cm, sparsely
hairly, glabrescent; leaflets 513, chartaceous to subcoriaceous; surfaces
concolorous, greyish-brown, sometimes greenish, above slightly shiny, glabrous,
beneath slightly dull, sparsely hairy, glabrescent, petiolules ca 35 mm long,
blade generally ovate, ca 1.62.5 times as long as wide, ca 45 by 610 cm;
base generally rounded or sometimes obtuse to acute or very rarely attenuate,
apex usually acuminate, sometimes acute, rarely obtuse, tip generally pointed.
Inflorescences of laxly branched axillary panicles, sometimes together with a
terminal one or with axillary racemes. Flowers few to numerous; calyx ca 56
mm long, hairy, all the lobes hairy inside towards the top, corolla with
standard ca 1618 mm long. Fruit orbicular or semiorbicular, brown to
blackish, densely hairy, ca 46.6 cm in diameter, stipe ca 59 mm long, the
style (beak) lateral. Wing more or less membranaceous. The seed-bearing part
ca 1 1/23 cm in diameter, thickened, ca 69 mm thick, more or less woody.
Seeds 12, ca 25 by 810 mm, widest at or below the hilum; testa dark brown,
Reported from the Hindustani and Indochina-Indonesian Centers of Diversity,
Malay Padauk, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate waterlogging. The
variety echinatus differs only in having prickles on the seed bearing part of
the fruit. It does poorly in lalang wasts, shallow soils, and stiff clays.
(2n = 20)
According to Rojo (1977) its western limit is southern Burma, extending
eastward to peninsular Thailand to Vietnam, farther eastward reaching the
Solomons (eastern limit) in the Pacific via Sumatra, West Java, Borneo,
Philippines, Sunda Islands, the Moluccas, New Guinea, and the Pacific (Ryukyu,
Carolines). Rojo suggests that most species of Pterocarpus "prefer"
seasonal climate, but P. indicus is a rainforest or evergreen forest
species (able to withstand dry areas).
Probably ranging from Tropical Very Dry to Wet through Subtropical Dry to Wet
Forest Life Zones, Malay Padauk is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of
9.6 to 21.8 dm (mean of 10 cases = 16.4), annual temperature of 24.3 to
26.6°C (mean of 6 cases = 25.2), and estimated pH of 4.0 to 7.5. According
to Rojo, it grows in forests, mostly evergreen, in the lowlands up to 600
m.Seems to prefer a seasonal climate, more everwet in New Guinea. Flowers
(Philippines, N. Borneo, Malay Peninsula) mostly in FebruaryMay, occasionally
in AugustNovember and (Celebes, Moluccas, Carolines, Solomons, and New Guinea)
mostly in JulyDecember, occasionally in FebruaryMay; fruit seems to ripen
within 46 months.
Grows rapidly from seeds and cuttings. Probably best started in seed nurseries
and then outplanted with the rainy season.
The kino, the resin, and the timber are usually harvested as needed. Those
people who eat the flowers and leaves probably concentrate such meals during
the leaf flush and flowering periods.
Although this is regarded in the Philippines e.g. as one of the best furniture
timbers, I find no yield data.
Although the wood is not necessarily recommended as firewood, it certainly
could be used for firewood. Some Pterocarpus burn green. The wood is
hard and heavy (625 kg/m3), and can be air seasoned without difficulty.
Studies in Hawaii, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, indicate that the
species fixes nitrogen (Allen and Allen, 1981).
Browne (1968) lists Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma pseudoferreum,
Schizophyllum commune, and Sclerotium rolfsii (fungi); Hypomeces
squamosus (coleoptera); Parasa lepida (lepidoptera), and Sus
scrofa (mammalia). According to Arroyo, Pterocarpus is visited by
large numbers of bee species, representing many different genera.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Allen, O.N. and Allen, E.K. 1981. The Leguminosae. The University of Wisconsin
Press. 812 p.
- Browne, F.G. 1968. Pests and diseases of forest plantations trees. Clarendon
- Burkill, J.H. 1966. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay peninsula.
Art Printing Works, Kuala Lumpur. 2 vols.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Endo, H. and Miyazaki, Y. 1972. Antitumor substances in the leaves of
Pterocarpus indicus and Pterocarpus vidalianus. Bul. Nat. Inst.
Hyg. Sci. (Tokyo) 90:6971.
- Hartwell, J.L. 19671971. Plants used against cancer. A survey. Lloydia 3034.
- Lewis, W.H. and Elvin-Lewis, M.P.F. 1977. Medical botany. John Wiley &
Sons, New York.
- List, P.H. and Horhammer, L. 19691979. Hager's handbuch der pharmazeutischen
praxis. vols 26. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Little, E.L., Jr., and Wadsworth, F.H. 1964. Common trees of Puerto Rico and
the Virgin Islands. Ag. Handbook 249, USDA, Washington, DC.
- Rojo, J.P. 1977. Pantropic speciation of Pterocarpus
(Leguminosae-Papilionaceae) and the Malesia-Pacific species. For. Abstr.
Last update Thursday, January 8, 1998 by aw