Pterocarpus erinaceus Poir.


(Papilionaceae = Fabaceae)


  • Pterocarpus angolensis DC
  • Pterocarpus echinatus DC
Author: Sandrine Petit

Local vernacular names
Commonly called in French ‘vène’ or ‘palissandre of Senegal’, ‘kino of Gambia’ or ‘santal of Africa’. ‘Bani’ or ‘Banuhi’ in Fulfulde (Burkina Faso), ‘Gwani’, ‘N’Gueni’ in Bambara, ‘Tolo’ in Djerma, ‘Bu Natombu’ in Gourmantché, ‘Noega’, ‘Noeka’, ‘Pempelaga’ in Moré, ‘Ban’ in Sérer, ‘Ven’ or ‘Yirk’ in Wolof.


Height varies from 12 to 15 m; in the savannahs of Burkina Faso mean average height was found to be 11 m with an average diameter of 36 cm. The bark is stiff, blackish and scaly. The branches have long shoots which bend downwards. The first golden-yellow flowers appear in January when the tree is quite leafless.

Fruit body is bristly, fruits orbicular, broadly winged. Leaves 10-15 foliolate. Branchlets not prickly; leaflets mostly oblong-elliptic, gradually and very shortly acuminate, 6-11 cm. long, 3-6 cm. broad. Light green fruits suborbicular, 4-7 cm.diam.


In dry forests and savannahs. Heliophytic species. Can form dense groves.


Found in well-drained soils, rare in deep soils. Occurs in laterites as well as poor soils and it is found more frequently in acid rather than neutral soils. When found on lateritic talus, they are often considered as ‘sacred mountains’.


Broad distribution from Senegal to Gabon, up to Sahel border (rainfall: 700-1800mm)


Easy to germinate. Young trees are found, but the species appears to becoming rarer.

Products & uses

The timber is of a yellowish colour and is also stiff which makes it one of the best timbers for cabinet making. Used for making drums, balafon, mortars and pestles. The wood has a red dye from which comes the name of ‘Santal of Africa’. The resin ‘kino’ is astringent and is used for tanning. The foliage is a common fodder harvested from lopped trees.



De Bie, S. et al. (1998); Geerling, C. (1982); Hutchinson, J. and Dalziel, J.M. (1954); Maydell, von H.-J. (1983); Petit, S. (2000); Tiquet, J. 1983