Family: Fabaceae (Caesalpinoideae)
In Swahili, Julbernardia globiflora is called mtondoro and also, confusingly, mchenga and mtondoo. It is a common component of miombo woodland and is one of 10 hardwood timber species – including Mpingo – that are managed and traded by the rural communities MCDI support in south-eastern Tanzania.
Specimens of J. globiflora can reach 18m, but usually it only grows to a smaller tree than Brachystegia spiciformis. The young trunk and branches are notably pale and the crown shape is variable. Its leaves are quite similar to those of B. spiciformis, although they are usually smaller, without wavy margins and have 4-7 pairs of leaflets, the middle ones being the largest. It bears yellow-white flowers on dark brown velvety twigs held above the branches; the pods are also held aloft.
Ecology & Distribution
J. globiflora is distributed from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania southward to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It is widespread and abundant, and often dominant or co-dominant in dry miombo woodland, usually occurring with Brachystegia spiciformis and forming tsetse-fly habitats. The tree is resistant to fire and pure stands of the tree are often found where miombo has been cleared for farms and then abandoned. Of all the miombo trees, this is considered to provide the highest quality nectar.
J. globiflora yields timber that is strong and hard. It has a golden brown colour and is distinctly demarcated from the up to 15 cm wide, pink or pale yellowish brown sapwood.
|Physical & Woodworking Properties|
|Density (kg/m3)||High (881)||Machining||Moderate|
|Hardness (Kgf)||High (916)||Response to hand tools||Moderate|
|Bending strength (kg/cm3)||High (1,248)||Planing||Moderate|
|Durability||Moderate||Movement in service||Moderate|
|Grain||Interlocked||Resistance to splitting||Poor|
|Texture||Medium-coarse||Resistance to impregnation||Moderate|
|Screwing||Easy||Resistance to insects||Very high|
Other similar timbers
J. globiflora is almost identical to wenge and bubinga in terms of density and durability, although it is significantly harder, less stable and slightly more difficult to machine than both species. The timber is very similar to Macassar ebony in density, durability and machining qualities, although it is slightly less stable and significantly softer.
J. globiflora is widely used for fuelwood and making charcoal. The wood is also used locally for poles, tool handles, mortars, yokes (harnesses) and canoes. It is suitable for manufacturing ships and vehicle bodies, railway sleepers, construction materials such as mine props, flooring, furniture, and interior trim and joinery.
The inner bark of J. globiflora is an important local source of string and rope. The bark rope is not as good as that of Brachystegia spiciformis, although it is often used.