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Afzelia xylocarpa seeds – contributing to a beautiful future

May 30, 2010

Afzelia xylocarpa (Fabaceae) is indigenous to the lowland forests of northern Thailand, and hence a pronounced monsoon tree, capable of withstanding severe drought. Due to its magnificent burgundy-red wood, large trees are very rare in Thailand, and disappearing in Burma and Laos as they happily log to satisfy the Thai market. Here the wood is called “mai makhaa”.

In spite of the Thai government’s generous offer to give away seedlings for free, very few plant it. The reason is that land owners prefer a payback in their lifetime, and then teak is much more appealing.

Anyhow, a tree to whom time is nothing deserves respect. The flowers are peculiar, green, spider-like, and the massive pods are quite decorative. Inside the pods, you will find the cartridge-like seeds. The young seeds are edible raw, but the mature seeds are stone-hard, also resembling fossilised crocodile teeth. The trees still remain around some temples, and many have been planted along the highway south of Chiang Rai, where you can collect seeds. Sow them in a seemingly protected area. A few minutes of your time will bring back a giant of the old times. We have several seedlings at Dokmai Garden.

Eric Danell

Seeds of Afzelia xylocarpa.

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