Pentaclethra macroloba

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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.

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Local names:
Creole (koeroebaharo,trysil,koloballi,koorooballi), English (oil bean tree), Portuguese (pracaxy,paroacaxi,paranacachy,parachy), Spanish (gavilán,carbonero,palo de aceite,quebracho,sangredo,mulato), Trade name (fine leaf)

Pentaclethra macroloba is a medium to large tree 40 m tall and 1.3 m diameter at breast height. The bark is  smooth, grey-brown

Leaves biparipinnate, to 30 cm long, with numerous small leaflets giving a feather-like appearance

Flowers hermaphrodite, small, crowded in 15-20 cm long, dense racemes. There are almost 200 flowers per raceme but only 1-5 flowers develop into fruits

Fruit dehiscent pod, 20-50 cm long by 4-6 cm wide, dark brown, 3-8 seeds per pod. 

Seed asymmetric, lack endosperm and differ from a typical mimosoid seed; seed coat brown with longitudinal stone cells forming fine lines on the surface

There are two other species in the genus  P. macrophylla Benth and
 P. eetveldeana De Wild. & Th. Dur., both from tropical Africa. All the three species have rich oily seeds


It is a lowland species. In humid tropical forests it is one of the dominant canopy trees reaching 30-35 m, often found growing near rivers and in swampy areas.

Native range
Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela

Tree management

The adaptability of this species to a wide range of sites makes it a useful plantation species. This species tolerates waterlogging and shade. Stand establishment is by using natural regeneration and direct seeding. In Costa Rica, it is normally grown with Carapa guianensis

The pods are collected from the trees in July-August when they turn dark grey and before opening. The dehiscence is explosive and seeds can be thrown 10 m or more away from the mother tree. They are transported in open bags to the processing site and must at all times be protected from wind and direct sun. The pods are dried in the shade for one day and the seeds extracted manually

The seeds storage behaviour is intermediate. They lose viability very quickly and do not seem to tolerate desiccation or low temperatures. After collection, the seeds must be handled very gently, kept moist and well aerated. After about one week most seeds will have lost viability. There are about 300 seeds/kg.

It is a lowland species. In humid tropical forests it is one of the dominant canopy trees reaching 30-35 m, often found growing near rivers and in swampy areas.

P. macroloba is usually propagated by seeds and suckers. The seeds are sown in germination beds but must be transplanted before the first bi-paripinate leaves develop.
It is preferable to sow the seeds with the pointed end down. They should be covered with a fine layer of substrate and the substrate must be kept moist at all times

Fresh seeds have high germination rate (often 90%). Germination starts 8-10 days after sowing and continues for about 30 days. Germination takes place regardless of light conditions and the seedlings grow under shade as well as in direct sun. The seedlings produce 14-17 small, scaly leaves before the first biparipinate leaves emerge. If the shoot is damaged, axilliary buds from the scaly leaves take over growth. After 4-5 months when the plants are 35-40 cm tall, they are ready for transplanting into the field.

Poison: Both seeds and bark contain a toxin, and long contact with sawdust and bark may cause allergy

It has been used to rehabilitate over exploited savanna areas in Africa due to its rapid regeneration and coppicing ability.

 The seeds are edible and also produce a cooking oil (owala oil), widely used in Africa. Seeds contain 45-48% lipid, 27-28% protein and 12-14% carbohydrates

The wood is a source of firewood

Timber: The wood is hard, heavy, tough and strong with a specific gravity in the range of 750-850 kg/m3 and often used as a substitute for mahogany. The wood is attractive but has no distinctive figure or grain. It can be used in heavy construction, railway sleepers, furniture, house frames, scaffolding and floor beams

Tannin or dyestuffs: The bark is a source of tannins

Lipids: The seeds have high oil content that may be used industrially in lubricants and soap manufacture

Medicine: Seeds and bark have multiple medicinal uses. It is used against snakebites, ulcers and insect bites. The bark is a remedy for dysentery

Nitrogen fixing: As a nitrogen-fixing pioneer species, P. macroloba has great potential in forest regeneration and reclamation of degraded lands.

It is used as a live firebreak in the lower Congo

Intercropping: It is inter-planted with other species