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Bowdichia virgilioides - Kunth

Common Name Alcornoco
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rain and savannah forests, favouring more open positions in well-drained soils[ 341 , 419 ].
Range The root tubercles and the bark are antirheumatic, astringent, depurative, febrifuge and hypoglycaem
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Bowdichia virgilioides Alcornoco


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Bowdichia virgilioides Alcornoco
Flickr - Alex Popovkin

 

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Summary

Alcornoco, Bowdichia virgilioides, is a fairly fast-growing tree that can be used as pioneer species when restoring woodland. In the rainforest, it is a large evergreen tree up to 36 m tall but in the savannah it is much smaller and can grow up to 16 m only. Root tubercles and the bark are applied externally to treat various skin conditions. They are antirheumatic, astringent, depurative, febrifuge and hypoglycaemic. Seed oil is also applied externally for relief from articular pain. The wood is resistant to insect attack, hard, heavy, and very durable. Alcornoco is used in landscaping as an ornamental tree.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Bowdichia virgilioides is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 18 m (59ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Cebipira virgiliodes (Kunth) Kuntze

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antirheumatic  Astringent  Depurative  Febrifuge  Hypoglycaemic  Skin

The root tubercles and the bark are antirheumatic, astringent, depurative, febrifuge and hypoglycaemic[739]. They are applied externally in the treatment of skin conditions[739]. The seed oil is rubbed on the skin to treat articular pain[739]. Lupeol and an alkaloid have been isolated from the bark[739].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Pioneer  Wood

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Agroforestry Uses: A fairly fast-growing tree that grows well in full sun, fixes atmospheric nitrogen and can succeed in dry and poor soils. It can be used as a pioneer species when restoring woodland[ 419 ]. Other Uses The heartwood, is brown to reddish-brown; it is sharply demarcated from the narrow band of almost white sapwood. Lustre is low; growth rings not visible; texture coarse and uneven; grain rarely straight, usually cross or wavy; no distinct odour or taste are present[ 341 ]. The wood is hard, strong, stiff, fairly heavy, very durable and very resistant to insect attack[ 341 , 419 ]. Not easy to work with hand tools, particularly if cross grain is present; it can be planed to a good surface if a low cutting angle is used; rather difficult to nail, but nailing and screw-holding characteristics are good; finishes smoothly and takes a high polish; stains and glues well. A very decorative wood and a good joinery timber, it is used for indoor finishing as floorboards, wainscoting, frames, panels and doors, as well as for hubs, felloes of cartwheels etc[ 46 , 341 , 419 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in a sunny position[ 419 ]. Found in the wild mainly on well-drained soils, it can succeed in both dry and poor conditions[ 419 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[ 419 ]. A fairly fast-growing tree, able to reach a height of around 3 metres within 2 years from seed[ 419 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Sow the seed in a sunny position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A very low germination rate can be expected from untreated seed, with the seed sprouting within 30 - 60 days[ 419 ]. When the seedbed-sown seedlings are 5 - 6cm tall, pot them up into individual containers and they should be ready to plant out 5 - 6 months later.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Alcornoco, Bowdichia virgilioides.

Coming Soon

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

Expert comment

Author

Kunth

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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