Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Gilbertiodendron spp. (Limbali)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-CAESALPINIOIDEAE. Gilbertiodendron brachystegioides (Harms) Leonard, G. dewevrei (de Wild.) Leonard, G. preussii (Harms) Leonard. Trade and local names: vaa (CI); sehmeh, sehn, smar-ne-eh (LR); ekpagoi eze (NG); ekop, ekobem, essalem, essouleoue, motondo (CM); molapa (CF); abeum grandes feuilles (GA); limbali, ditshipi, ligudu (CD). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Description based on 20. Tree. Geographic distribution: tropical Africa.

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct. Heartwood basically brown to red (copper-brown), without streaks. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Odour indistinct or absent. Density 0.66–0.85 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows to radial rows of 4 or more. Vessel outline rounded. Two distinct vessel diameter classes absent. Average tangential vessel diameter 200–380 µm; diameter of vessel lumina: very large. Average number of vessels/mm² 2–4(–7); vessels per square millimetre very few. Average vessel element length 350–500 µm. Average vessel element length medium. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 3–6 µm, minute to small, vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits, of uniform size or type, of the same type in adjacent elements, located throughout the ray. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels absent. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present, yellowish-brown (amber coloured) deposits frequent in vessels.

Tracheids and fibres. Vascular or vasicentric tracheids sporadic to absent. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 1100–1700–2300 µm. Average fibre length medium to long. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Helical thickenings absent. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded to not banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal), fine, up to three cells wide. Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric, or aliform, or confluent. Aliform parenchyma lozenge. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 3–5(–7). Marginal parenchyma bands not in all specimens evident.

Rays. Rays 8–12 per tangential mm, exclusively uniseriate to multiseriate (also if only few), 1–2 cells wide. Aggregate rays absent. Rays of one size. Height of large rays up to 500 µm (ca. 350 µm). Rays composed of two or more cell types (heterocellular). Heterocellular rays with square and upright cells restricted to marginal rows, mostly 1 marginal row of upright or square cells. Sheath cells absent. Tile cells absent. Perforated ray cells absent. Disjunctive ray parenchyma end walls indistinct or absent. Rays in some specimens (species) exclusively uniseriate, in others mixed with biseriate ones.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Secretory structures. Oil and mucilage cells absent. Intercellular canals absent. Laticifers or tanniniferous tubes absent.

Cambial variants. Included phloem absent. Other cambial variants absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Crystal containing cells of normal size. Cystoliths absent. Silica not observed.

Illustrations. • Transverse section: G. dewevrei. Gilbertiodendron dewevrei. • Tangential section: G. dewevrei. Gilbertiodendron dewevrei -- with predominantly uniseriate rays. • Radial section: G. dewevrei. Gilbertiodendron dewevrei. • Transverse section: G. preussii. Gilbertiodendron preussii. • Tangential section: G. preussii. Gilbertiodendron preussii -- with predominantly multiseriate rays. • Radial section: G. preussii. Gilbertiodendron preussii.


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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