Ricinodendron heudelotii

Invasive species Disclaimer

In view of the fact that some tree species are invasive, the world Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has put in place a policy document on Invasive Alien Species, currently under draft available at Here.

For more information on this subject, please refer to
100 of the World's worst Invasive and Alien Species.

Species Index    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Multiple Criteria Search

Abelmoschus moschatus
Acacia aneura
Acacia angustissima
Acacia aulacocarpa
Acacia auriculiformis
Acacia catechu
Acacia cincinnata
Acacia crassicarpa
Acacia elatior
Acacia erioloba
Acacia etbaica
Acacia ferruginea
Acacia glauca
Acacia holosericea
Acacia karroo*
Acacia koa
Acacia laeta
Acacia lahai
Acacia leptocarpa
Acacia leucophloea
Acacia mangium
Acacia mearnsii*
Acacia melanoxylon
Acacia mellifera
Acacia nilotica subsp nilotica
Acacia pachycarpa
Acacia pennatula
Acacia polyacantha ssp. polyacantha
Acacia saligna
Acacia senegal
Acacia seyal
Acacia sieberiana
Acacia tortilis
Acacia xanthophloea
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius
Adansonia digitata
Adenanthera pavonina
Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
Agathis macrophylla
Agathis philippinensis
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus excelsa
Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
Albizia amara
Albizia anthelmintica
Albizia chinensis
Albizia coriaria
Albizia ferruginea
Albizia gummifera
Albizia julibrissin
Albizia lebbeck
Albizia odoratissima
Albizia procera
Albizia saman
Albizia versicolor
Albizia zygia
Aleurites moluccana
Allanblackia floribunda
Allanblackia stuhlmannii
Allanblackia ulugurensis
Alnus acuminata
Alnus cordata
Alnus japonica
Alnus nepalensis
Alnus rubra
Alphitonia zizyphoides
Alstonia boonei
Alstonia congensis
Alstonia scholaris
Altingia excelsa
Anacardium occidentale
Andira inermis
Annona cherimola
Annona muricata
Annona reticulata
Annona senegalensis
Annona squamosa
Anogeissus latifolia
Anthocephalus cadamba
Antiaris toxicaria
Antidesma bunius
Araucaria bidwillii
Araucaria cunninghamii
Arbutus unedo
Areca catechu
Arenga pinnata
Argania spinosa
Artemisia annua
Artocarpus altilis
Artocarpus camansi
Artocarpus heterophyllus
Artocarpus integer
Artocarpus lakoocha
Artocarpus mariannensis
Asimina triloba
Ateleia herbert-smithii
Aucomea klaineana
Averrhoa bilimbi
Averrhoa carambola
Azadirachta excelsa
Azadirachta indica
Azanza garckeana
Related Links
Seeds are eaten to spice up soups and stews in west Africa, and used as a peanut substitute in Europe
© Anthony Simons
Farmers nursery near Yaounde, Cameroon
© Anthony Simons

Local names:
English (ground nut tree,cork wood,African wood-oil nut tree,African wood,African nut tree), French (bois jasanga), German (afrikanisches Mahagoni), Swahili (muawa), Trade name (musodo,erimado,corkwood), Yoruba (erimado)

Ricinodendron heudelotii is a fast-growing tree, reaching up to 50 m in height and 2.7 m in girth; bole straight with short buttress; bark grey, smooth at first, becoming scaly with ageing; slash dark red, densely mottled with scattered pits and orange stone-cell granules.

Leaves alternate, digitately 3-5 foliate; leaflets sessile or subsessile, glandular, denticulate, often white-felted on the underside at 1st with stellate pubescent hairs, becoming glabrous; obovate to obovate-elliptic; apex long-acuminate; base cuneate; stipules large, foliaceus, persistent, deeply toothed. 

Inflorescence yellow tomentose; male panicles up to 41 cm long; female panicles shorter and stouter; male flowers with 5 sepals, a 5-lobed corolla tube and 10 stamens; female flowers with stellate tomentose ovary and 2 styles, slender and bipartite.

Fruit indehiscent, 2-3 lobed, 2 celled, with a thick, hard shell and a smell of overripe apples; contains 2-3 red-brown-black seeds, rounded, flat, over 1 cm across.

Two varieties are recognized: R. heudelotii var. heudelotii in Ghana, and R. heudelotii var. africanum in Nigeria and westwards. The generic name is based on the Greek words for tick and tree because the seeds were thought to resemble ticks.


R. heudelotii is a tree of the fringing, deciduous and secondary forests common throughout the semi-dry, wooded-savannah zone of the region. From lower Senegal to west Cameroon and Fernando Po, to Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Tanzania, where it is found scattered in gaps at forest edges and in secondary scrub and thickets.

Native range
Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia

Tree management

Stand establishment is mainly through direct sowing and planting stock. The species is suited for coppicing and  pollarding.

The seeds are liable to insect attack and therefore ash is added to reduce insect damage before storing in a cool, dry place. There are about 5200 seeds/kg.

R. heudelotii is a tree of the fringing, deciduous and secondary forests common throughout the semi-dry, wooded-savannah zone of the region. From lower Senegal to west Cameroon and Fernando Po, to Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Tanzania, where it is found scattered in gaps at forest edges and in secondary scrub and thickets.

R. heudelotii regenerates readily from stumps and comes up freely in old fields. It grows spontaneously from seed and is often preserved in the neighbourhood of forest villages. Soaking seeds in cold water for 24 hours hastens germination.

  The seeds are edible but are not valued as food in all areas where it grows. The kernels can be eaten after boiling in water, or in sauce as in Cote d’Ivoire, or mixed with fish, meat or vegetables. In Gabon kernels are roasted and made into a paste.

Wood of R. heudelotii is not popular as a fuel as it burns very quickly.

Fibre:  R. heudelotii is perhaps suitable for paper pulp.

Timber:  The dull, white wood is fibrous, soft, light and perishable. Used for rough planks, coffins, fishing net floats and rafts for heavy timbers. It is curved into fetish masks, spoons, ladles, plates, platters, bowls, dippers and stools. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the wood is used for making drums, which are said to be very sonorous, and in southern Nigeria, Gabon and Angola, it is carved to make the whole or the resonant parts of musical instruments. In Ghana, it is currently recommended for use in insulation, and the sawdust is suitable for use in sun helmets.

Shade or shelter: R. heudelotii is  a popular shade  and shelter for cacao (Theobroma cacao)  in smallholder cocoa cultivation areas in West and Central Africa.

Tannin or dyestuff:  In Guinea the ash is used in indigo dyeing.

Lipids:  Seed kernel is oil bearing and contains about 47% by weight of oil consisting of the fatty acids eleostearic 44%, oleic16%, and 10% each of palmitic, stearic, linoleic and linolenic. The oil is light, yellow, drying, has a sweet taste, is usable in varnish and soft soaps and has industrial application in waterproofing materials.

Medicine:  In Nigeria, root when ground up and mixed with pepper and salt bark is used for constipation. The Temne of Sierra Leone tie to the body bark that has been beaten and warmed to cure elephantiasis. Pregnant Liberian women take a bark liquor to relieve pains and prevent miscarriage. In Cote d’Ivoire, a root-bark decoction taken by mouth is considered a powerful antidysentery medicine. A bark decoction is taken in Gabon for blennorrhoea and painful menstruation and as a poison antidote.

Ornamental:  R. heudelotii is a popular avenue tree in Uganda.

Soil improver:  The cake from seed-oil extraction is a good nitrogenous fertilizer.

Intercropping:  When not grown in pure stands, it has always been intercropped with coffee, cocoa or bananas.