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Swartzia bannia - Sandwith

Common Name Bannia, Banya
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Fine dust developed by machining operations may cause irritation to nose, throat and eyes[341 ].
Habitats Savannah forests and dry sand savannahs[422 ]. Savannah and dry evergreen formations and high forests[341 ].
Range Northern S. America - French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Swartzia bannia Bannia, Banya

Swartzia bannia Bannia, Banya


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Swartzia bannia is a shrub or tree commonly found in Northern South America. Its bole has no buttress and can be branchless for up to 10 m. It has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria that form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. It is not edible but its bark can be boiled with water as relief from diarrhea. The wood is of high quality - in fact known as one of the most dense and strongest wood. It is highly resistant to termites attack and shock.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Swartzia bannia is an evergreen Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


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.

The bark is boiled with water and then drunk as a treatment for diarrhoea[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Other Uses: The heartwood is deep purple-brown, almost black; it is sharply demarcated from the yellow to light yellow-buff sapwood which is less than 25mm wide. The texture is very fine; moderately lustrous; grain interlocked, producing a prominent striped figure[341 ]. The wood is one of the densest and strongest known. It has outstanding hardness, compression parallel to the grain and shearing characteristics. It is difficult to saw and hard to work because of its extremely high density; very smooth surfaces are obtainable in sawing or planing; it bores cleanly and turns well; takes a high polish; pre-boring is essential for nailing and screwing. Very resistant to termites but liable to marine borer attack. Wearing characteristics are excellent it is highly resistant to shock[341 ].

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

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[755 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Guyana; Suriname

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.

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Swartzia benthamianaWamaraTree20.0 10-12 MLMHSNM024
Swartzia grandifoliaBig leafed Swartzia, Coracao-de-NegroTree15.0 10-12 MLMHNM004
Swartzia ingifoliaSwartziaTree20.0 10-12 FLMHNM004
Swartzia leiocalycinaWamaraTree28.0 10-12 MLMNM004
Swartzia panacocoCoracao-de-Negro, panococo, Brazilian ebonyTree25.0 10-12 MLMNM024

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.


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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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