Gmelina arborea Roxb
Gmelina, White teak
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
The wood is one of the best timbers of the tropics, useful for particle board,
plywood core stock, pit props, matches, and saw timber for light construction,
furniture, general carpentry, and packing. Also used in carriages, carvings,
musical instruments, and ornamental work. Graveyard tests indicate that the
untreated timber may last 15 years in contact with the soil. With pulping
properties superior to most hardwood pulps, gmelina has been planted by the
millions, e.g. in the Rio Jari region of Brazil to feed a 750 MT/day kraft pulp
mill. In Gambia there are dual purpose plantings, for firewood and for honey.
It is often planted as an ornamental avenue shade tree. The wood makes a
fairly good charcoal. According to Little (1983), the leaves are harvested for
fodder for animals and silkworms; the bittersweet fruits were once consumed by
According to Hartwell (19671971), the root decoction is used in folk remedies
for abdominal tumors in India. Reported to be anodyne, demulcent, lactagogue,
refrigerant, stomachic, and tonic, gmelina is a folk remedy for anasarca,
anthrax, bilious disorder, bites, blood disorders, cholera, colic, convulsions,
delirium, diarrhea, dropsy, dyspepsia, epilepsy, fever, gout, ,gravel,
headache, hemorrhage, intoxication, madness, phthisis, ratbites, rheumatism,
rinderpest, septicemia, smallpox, snakebite, sores, sorethroat, splenitis,
stomachic, swelling, and urticaria (Duke and Wain, 1981). Deeming the fruits
alterative, aphrodisiac, astringent, diuretic, and tonic, Ayurvedics prescribe
them for alopecia, anemia, consumption, leprosy, strangury, thirst, and vaginal
discharges; the flowers for blood disorders and leprosy; the root, deemed
anthelmintic, apertif, laxative, and stomachic, for abdominal pains, burning
sensations, fever, hallucinations, piles, thirst and urinary discharges (Duke,
1984 in ed.).
The drupes are reported to contain butyric acid traces of tartaric acid and
resinous and saccharine matter, the latter two also in the roots, which contain
traces of benzoic acid.
Deciduous tree 1230 m high and 60100 cm in diameter. Bark light gray or
gray-yellow, smooth, thin, somewhat corking, becoming brown and rough; twigs
stout, often slightly 4-angled. Leaves opposite, broadly ovate, 1020 cm long,
713 cm wide; base with 24 glands beneath, acuminate, entire, with 3 or 5 main
veins from near base and 25 pairs of side veins, underneath velvety with
yellow-brown hairs. Petiole 512 cm long, hairy. Cymes paniculate at ends of
twigs, 1530 cm long, branched, densely hairy. Flowers many, short-stalked,
nodding, 4 cm long, densely hairy. Calyx bell-shaped, 5 mm long, 5-toothed;
corolla bright orange-yellow or brownish-yellow, with short narrow tube,
2-lipped; stamens 4 in 2 pairs inserted near base of tube. Pistil with
elliptical 4-celled ovary having 1 ovule in each cell. Stigma often slightly
24-forked. Drupes ovate or pyriform, 22.5 cm long, smooth, becoming
orange-yellow, pulpy, with large egg-shaped stone, having 14 cells. Seeds 14
Reported to tolerate disease, drought, fire, heat, laterite, light frosts, and
slope. Although casting a dense shade itself, it is intolerant of shade as a
seedling (Little, 1983).(2n = 36, 38)
Native to tropical moist forest from India, Burma, and Sri Lanka to southern
China, Gmelina is widely introduced, e.g. in Brazil, Gambia, Honduras, Ivory
Coast, Malaysia, Malawi, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, and Sierra Leone.
Estimated to range from Tropical Very Dry to Wet through Subtropical Very Dry
to Wet Forest Life Zones, gmelina is reported or estimated to tolerate annual
precipitation of 7 to 45 dm (NAS, 1980a), annual temperature of 20 to 26°C,
and pH of 6 to 8. It can tolerate a 67-month dry season. Grows on many
soils, acidic laterites to calcareous loams, doing poorly on thin or poor soils
with hardpan, dry sands, or heavily leached acidic soils, well-drained basic
Seeds, retaining their viability for only about 12 months, will benefit from
soaking if rain or irrigation is not expected. Direct seeding is cheap but
tubed seedlings are also outplanted, sometimes intercropped with beans, cashew,
corn, peanuts, and tobacco. For fuelwood, spacing at 2 x 2 m is recommended,
wider spacings for timber plantations. For the first year or so, weeding is
necessary, but the canopy is soon dense, like the litter layer, quickly
arresting the weed growth.
Trees coppice well, with 5-year coppice rotations for fuel, longer rotations
The NAS (1980a) reports annual increments; >30 m3/ha, on fertile
sites. Rotations of 58 years may produce 2035 m3. Occasionally
trees may start dying out at only 10 years age.
Destructive distillation of the wood yields 31.8% charcoal, 47.1% total
distillate, 37.1% pyroligneous acid, 10.0% tar, 2.4% pitch, and losses, 4.47%
acids, 3.42% esters, 2.38% acetone, and 1.28% methanol on a dry weight basis.
The non-condensable gases (1.88 ft3/lb) contain 59% CO2, 31.75% CO,
4.5% methane, 4.15% H, and 0.6% unsaturated hydrocarbons. Many of these have
energetic potential (C.S.I.R., 19481976). Reynolds and Lawson (1978)
concluded that the heating value of Gmelina wood was less than that from the
local eucalypts. Although the calorific values of the samples studied were
almost identical (4.53 mcal/kg and 4.54 respectively), the DM contents were 45
and 56%. The fresh weight of Gmelina firewood brought in cubic-meter lots was
significantly correlated with butt size. The NAS (1980a) suggests 4.8 mcal/kg
for the sapwood, spec. grav. 0.420.64. The charcoal burns well, without
smoke, leaving a lot of ash. The Wealth of India (C.S.I.R., 19481976) puts
the calorific value at 4.763 mcal (8,547 BTU) with silica free ash of 1.54%.
In a 10-year-old Philippine stand, the aboveground biomass was 127 MT/ha, leaf
biomass was 1.4 MT, leaf litter ca 5.2 MT, constituting ca 62% of the total
litter. Annual productivity was 18 MT/ha. Annual stem increment was about 10
MT/ha or 30 M3/ha, little influenced by the age of the stand over
the first 15 years (Kawahara et al., 1981). Akachuku's data (1981) show annual
yields of 2050 m3/ha/yr but he cites other studies on poor sandy
soil yielding only 7, on laterites only 18; on the best of savanna sites 25, on
rainforest sites 3136, on Malaysia sites 2838, and on Philippine sites 36
m3. MAI in 7-year trees was 32 m3 (15 MT) to 47
m3 (23 MT)/ha (Akachuku, 1981).
Cattle may eat the foliage and bark; seeds and foliage are consumed avidly by
rabbits and deer. In Latin America, the leaves are gathered by the leaf-cutter
ants. In India, other insects may defoliate the plant. Calopepla may
defoliate, while the borers, Dihamnus and Alicide, may damage the trees. The
"machete disease", Ceratocystis fimbriata, is sometimes severe in
moister climates. Poria rhizomorpha may cause stem and root diseases in
wet situations with heavy soils. Browne (1968) lists the following as
affecting Gmelina arborea: (Fungi) Armillaria mellea, Cercospora
ranjita, Fomes roseus, Polyporus baudni, Poria rhizomorpha, Sclerotinia
rolfsii, Trametes straminea. (Angiospermae) Tapinanthus sp.
(Mollusca) Limicolaria aurora. (Myriapoda) Odontopyge sp.
(Coleoptera) Alcidodes ludificator, Apion angulicolle, A. armipes,
Apophyllia chloroptera, A. sulcata, Calopepla leayana, Dihammus cervinus,
Empecamenta calabarica, Lagria villosa, Lixus camerunus, L. spinimanus,
Macrocoma candens, podagrica dilecta, Prioptera punctipennis, Xyleborus
fornicatus. (Hemiptera) Agaeus pavimentatus, Anoplocnemis tristator,
Chunrocerus niveosparsus, Dysdercus superstitiosus, Tingis beesoni, Trioza
fletcheri. (Isoptera) Coptotermes curvignathus, C. niger, Macrotermes
goliath. (Lepidoptera) Acrocercops telestis, Endoclita undulifer,
Eupterote geminata, E. undata, Evergestis aureolalis, Gonodontis clelia,
Indarbela quadrinotata, Metanastria hyrtaca, Phostria caniusalis, Psilogramma
menephron, Sahyadrassus malabaricus, Selepa celtis, Xyleutes ceramica.
(Orthoptera) Heteropternis thoracica, Kraussaria angulifera,
Phaneroptera nana, Phymateus viridipes, Zonocerus elegans. (Mammalia)
Axis axis, Strepsiceros strepsiceros, Sylvicarpa grimmia, Thryonomys
swinderianus, Tragelaphus scriptus.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Akachuku, A.E. 1981. Estimation of volume and weight growth in Gmelina
arborea with X-ray densitometer. p. 105113. In: Kyoto biomass studies.
Univ. of Maine at Orono. Maine.
- Browne, F.G. 1968. Pests and diseases of forest plantations trees. Clarendon
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Duke, J.A. 1984. in ed. An herb a day ... Ayurvedic. Typescript.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Hartwell, J.L. 19671971. Plants used against cancer. A survey. Lloydia 3034.
- Kawahara, T., Kanazawa, Y., and Sakura, S. 1981. Biomass and net production of
man-made forests in the Philippines. J. Jap. For. Soc. 63(9):320327.
- Little, E.L. Jr. 1983. Common fuelwood crops: a handbook for their
identification. McClain Printing Co., Parsons, WV.
- N.A.S. 1980a. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production.
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
- Reynolds, L. and Lawson, E.C. 1978. A comparison of the fuelwood value of
Gmelina arborea and Eucalyptus spp. from the Bunda Forest. Res.
Bul. Bunda Coll.of Agr. Uni. of Malawi, 9:7175.
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw