Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Dalbergia melanoxylon Guill. & Perr. (Grenadill, African blackwood)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-FABOIDEAE. Trade and local names: Grenadill (DE); African blackwood, Senegal ebony (GB, US); pau preto (MZ); babanus (SD); mufunjo (UG); mpingo (KE); babanusi, moghano, sibbe (ET); atiyi (TG). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: tropical Africa (in dry savannah forests of Central and East Africa, extending north to Senegal).

General. Heartwood basically brown to black. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Density 0.9–1.2 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Two distinct vessel diameter classes present. Average tangential vessel diameter 80–130–220 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 5–8 µm, vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres very thick-walled. Fibre pits common in both radial and tangential walls, simple to minutely bordered.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal), fine, up to three cells wide. Axial parenchyma apotracheal and paratracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty. Axial parenchyma fusiform, or as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 2.

Rays. Rays multiseriate (also if only few), (1–)2 cells wide. 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.

Storied structures. Storied structure present, all rays storied, axial parenchyma storied, vessel elements storied, fibres storied. In some specimens storied structure irregular or missing.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in ray cells and axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing ray cells procumbent. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood not fluorescent. Water extract not fluorescent; basically colourless to brown or shade of brown (brown). Ethanol extract fluorescent (greenish-blue). Colour of ethanol extract colourless to brown or shade of brown. Froth test positive.

Illustrations. • Transverse section. Dalbergia melanoxylon. • Tangential section. Dalbergia melanoxylon. • Radial section. Dalbergia melanoxylon.

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.’.