Articles

Haematoxylum campechianum L.

Haematoxylum campechianum L.

Family

Leguminosae

Synonyms

None

Vernacular Names

English Logwood, campeachy wood, blackwood.
French Bois de camp├Ęche, bois bleu, bois de sang.

Geographical Distributions

Haematoxylum campechianum is indigenous to Central America and the adjoining parts of South America. The plant was discovered by the Spanish on the shores of Campeche Bay in the Gulf of Mexico before 1525. It was introduced into the Caribbean where it was widely naturalised, and into most parts of the Old World tropics, e.g. South-East Asia. It was introduced in Singapore in 1876. Logwood is cultivated on a very limited scale in Malaysia (Penang), Indonesia (Java), and the Philippines.

Description

Haematoxylum campechianum is a small, bushy tree that can reach up to 15 m tall, but usually smaller, often thorny and gnarled. The trunk is irregularly fluted and contorted. It attains a length of 2-3 m and a diametre of 60 cm, although usually much less, and is prolonged into large, rather long and straight branches. Its bark grey to brown, rather smooth and peels in flakes.

The leaves are arranged alternately, paripinnate, distichous or fascicled on very short branches. The stipules are partly small and caducous. They are partly spine-like. The leaflets are in 2-4 pairs, obcordate or obovate, measuring 10-35 mm x 5-25 mm, acute at base, emarginate at apex, closely veined and smooth.

The flowers are in racemes 5-20 cm long in the axils of present or fallen leaves. They are 5-merous and sweet-scented. The sepals are 4-5 mm long and deeply lobed while the bright yellow petals are 5-7 mm long. There are 10 free stamens. The ovary is superior, shortly stalked and hairless. The style is thread-like.

The 3-5 cm long fruit is a lance-shaped and extremely flattened pod that is pointed at both ends. It is dehiscent not along the sutures but along the median of the sides and usually 2-seeded.

Ecology / Cultivation

Haematoxylum campechianum is a lowland species which may grow under very different conditions. In Central America, it grows best in flat marshy areas often inundated by rivers. In the West Indies, the best wood is produced in interior valleys and moist coves in the lower slopes of hills. In Jamaica, Haematoxylum campechianum is common on exposed limestone hillsides in dry secondary thickets. Logwood prefers light soils with some humus.

Line Drawing / Photograph

Haematoxylum_campechianum

References

  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 3: Dye and tannin-producing plants.