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Terminalia superba - Engl. & Diels

Common Name Shinglewood
Family Combretaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Although the timber is widely used in the wood industry, skin irritations are rare. However, there have been various reports as follows:- Splinters of the wood can cause wounds that become increasingly inflamed and resist healing[407 ]. Vesicular dermatitis of the fingers, apparently caused by the sawdust, has been observed[407 ]. Contact dermatitis from the wood dust in ten Swiss workers has been reported[407 ]. The wood can also cause respiratory disorders such as asthma and bleeding of the nose and gums, and also contact urticaria[407 ].
Habitats A characteristic canopy tree of tropical high secondary forest areas with a dry season of about 4 months[303 ].
Range West Tropical Africa - Guinea Bissau to Cameroon and DR Congo, south to Angola.
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
Terminalia superba Shinglewood

Terminalia superba Shinglewood
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Terminalia superba or commonly known as Shinglewood is a deciduous, fastgrowing, large tree, about 60 m in height, with buttressed, cylindrical trunk and domed or flat crown. Trunk diameter can be up to 1.5 m. It is native to western Africa. The flowers are small and white, and produced at the end of dry season before the new leaves. The fruits are samaras with two wings. The bark is used in traditional medicine as treatment for wounds, sores, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, gingivitis, ovarian problems, bronchitis, vomiting, aphthae, and swellings. The leaves are diuretic and the roots are laxative. No plant part is edible. Shinglewood is a pioneer species and can be used in reforestation projects. It is also used as a shade tree in plantations. The bark yields a yellow dye. The wood is light to medium weight, soft to moderately hard, not durable, and susceptible to attacks by borers and termites. It is used for many purposes such as house construction, interior joinery, furniture, veneer and plywood, musical instruments, turnery, and many others. It is also ideal for fuel and charcoal. Plants are grown from seeds.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Terminalia superba is a deciduous Tree growing to 40 m (131ft) by 40 m (131ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Flies. The plant is not self-fertile.
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 moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Terminalia altissima A.Chev.

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.
Anodyne  Antidiarrhoeal  Antiemetic  Antihaemorrhoidal  Astringent  Diuretic  Dysentery  Expectorant  
Laxative  Malaria

The bark is anodyne, astringent and expectorant. Decoctions and macerations are used in traditional medicine to treat wounds, sores, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea, dysentery, malaria, vomiting, gingivitis, bronchitis, aphthae, swellings and ovarian troubles[299 ]. The leaves are diuretic[299 ]. The roots are laxative[299 ]. The bark contains gallic acid and methyl gallate, which have shown significant glycosidase inhibition activity[299 ]. A methanol extract of the stem bark showed vasorelaxant and antidiabetic activities[299 ]. Ethanol extracts of the roots and stems showed distinct trypanocidal activity against both drug-sensitive as well as multi-drug-resistant strains of Trypanosoma congolense and Trypanosoma brucei[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Dye  Fuel  Furniture  Mordant  Paper  Pioneer  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Terminalia superba is classified as a pioneer species and usually regenerates well after forest exploitation. Seedlings are often abundant along roadsides and in medium-sized forest gaps[299 ]. Seedlings are tolerant of full exposure to the sun and so can be used in the initial stages of reforestation projects[K ]. The tree is occasionally used as a shade tree in banana, cocoa and coffee plantations[299 ]. Other Uses A yellow dye is obtained from the bark[299 ]. Reddish brown and black dyes can also be obtained if iron-rich mud or iron salts are used as a mordant[299 ]. It can be used to dye wraps, matting and basket fibres[299 ]. The wood is quite variable and three types of commercial timber are recognised from this tree:- white or straw coloured; black, olive-grey to blackish-brown; and multicoloured, with dark and light streaks. The heartwood is not clearly demarcated from the 12 - 15cm wide band of sapwood. After exposure to the air, it darkens slightly, verging on a tanned appearance, and resembling a light oak. The wood is light to medium weight; soft to moderately hard; somewhat weak; not durable, being liable to attacks by pin-hole borers, powder-post beetles, longhorn beetles, termites and marine borers. It air dries rapidly with little degrade; rates of shrinkage are moderate; once dry, the wood is stable in service. The wood is easy to saw and work with both hand and machine tools; the blunting effect on cutting edges is slight; it finishes well, but the use of a filler is necessary; it holds nails and screws well, but has some tendency to splitting; gluing is satisfactory; it accepts paints and varnish well. The wood can be made into good-quality veneer by slicing as well as rotary peeling. The steam-bending properties are poor. The wood is valued for interior joinery, door posts and panels, mouldings, furniture, office-fittings, crates, matches, and particularly for veneer and plywood. It is suitable for light construction, light flooring, ship building, interior trim, vehicle bodies, sporting goods, toys, novelties, musical instruments, food containers, vats, turnery, hardboard, particle board and pulpwood. It is used locally for temporary house construction, planks, roof shingles, canoes, paddles, coffins, boxes and domestic utensils[299 , 303 ]. It is suitable for paper making, although the paper is of moderate quality[299 ]. The wood has potential importance in paper making, offering the capability of producing a relatively wide range of pulps[303 ]. The wood is used for fuel and for making charcoal[299 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist, tropical lowlands, where it is found at elevations from 150 - 1,000 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where the mean maximum and minimum annual temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, though it can tolerate 18 - 36°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 1,800mm, though can tolerate from 1,000 - 2,000mm[418 ].It is mainly found in areas with a dry season of around 4 months, but it does not respond well to long dry spells, especially when growing on sandy soils[303 ]. Requires a sunny position - young trees grow straight and vigorously in full light, particularly if their crown is free, but they stagnate under shade[303 ]. Grows best on rich, well-drained alluvial soils, but is also found on other types such as lateritic sands, gravel and clays, lava, black basaltic clays and crystalline soils[303 ]. The tree will withstand occasional flooding[303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8.5[418 ]. A fast-growing tree. Annual growth rates of 2.5 metres in height have been reported for the first 10 years after planting, whilst 4 year old trees in in Ghana have reached a height of 14 metres with boles 22cm in diameter[299 ]. Under good conditions, planted trees may reach a bole diameter of 50cm in 20 years[299 ]. The average annual increment in heartwood volume in plantations has been estimated at 14.5 cubic meters per hectare[299 ]. The tree reaches sexual maturity late and at variable ages, for example at the age of 15 years in Cote d'Ivoire and 23 years in Congo[303 ]. In the oldest stands in Congo, which are now 30 years old, a spacing of 12 x 12 metres appears to be appropriate, and trees are straight and vigorous[303 ]. Natural pruning is excellent and starts early, at 3 - 4 years, and from then onwards the degree of self-pruning has a strong effect on the health and future value of the tree[303 ]. It coppices readily from tree stumps, bears copious amounts of seed every year, and under plantation conditions achieves sexual maturity after 6 - 10 years[303 ]. The rotation period as applied in favourable locations in Africa is 40 years[303 ]. The root system is frequently fairly shallow, and as the tree ages the taproot disappears[303 ]. The tree is frequently struck by lightning, presumably because of its dominant position in the forest. It is very fire sensitive[303 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - no pre-treatment is needed and seed should preferably be fresh at sowing, covered with fine soil and watered morning and evening[303 ]. Germination takes place in 2 - 4 weeks, and temporary shading is necessary[303 ]. The root develops clearly as a taproot[303 ].In the nursery, seedlings are usually slightly shaded until they are 2 months old. Inoculation with endomycorrhizae enhances the growth of seedlings by about 25% after 10 weeks. Seedlings are transplanted into nursery beds after 6 - 7 weeks when 5 - 8cm tall, spacing them 20cm _ 50cm apart. This should be done carefully to avoid damage to the taproot. They often remain in the nursery for at least one year until they have reached a height of about 2 metres[299 ]. Direct sowing is rarely done and not very effective; the normal method is raising nursery stock[303 ]. The seeds store well in sealed containers with a little desiccant at 2 - 4?c, giving 40 - 60% germination after 1 - 2 years, but poor storage conditions reduce germination to about 30% after 1 year[303 ]. There is no difficulty in grafting the species, and this has been practised in Congo since 1970. Here the optimum period was found to be mid-August to mid-September before the rise of sap and recurrence of the rains, with scions grafted at once, or transported under refrigeration[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Afara, Frake, Korina, Limba, Ofram,

Benin; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Liberia; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Togo; Angola, Africa, West Africa,

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

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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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Engl. & Diels

Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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