Indigenous mukula tree
Scientific name: Pterocarpus chrysothrix
Pterocarpus tinctorius is widespread in Central, East and southern Africa, from Congo and DR Congo east to Tanzania and south to Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Pterocarpus tinctorius is an evergreen or deciduous tree with a roundish or flat, spreading crown. It grows 5 - 30 metres tall with a bole that can be branchless for up to 15 metres and is about 30cm in diameter. The tree grows on rocky hills, plateaux and scarps, on stony soils; termite mounds; at elevations from 50 - 1,800 metres.
A bark decoction is applied as a rectal washing to treat lung congestion in children.
The wood is popular for furniture, cabinet making and decorative parquet floors. It is also suitable for light construction, joinery, interior trim, boxes, crates, tool handles, carving, turnery, veneer, plywood, hardboard, particle board, and pulpwood for lower-quality paper production. It is used as firewood and for making charcoal. The reddish dye from the wood and roots has been used for colouring the body.
The foliage is browsed by goats and it provides shade for animals.
Pterocarpus tinctorius occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from evergreen rainforest to riverine forest and wooded savanna, up to 1800 m altitude, often on rocky hills.
The wood usually dries well with little deformation. Shrinkage rates from green to oven dry are 3.3% radial and 5.5% tangential for wood from Burundi. Once dry, the wood is stable in service. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture of wood from Mayombe is 91 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 9100 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 45 N/mm², cleavage 8 N/mm² and Chalais-Meudon hardness 2.2. The wood saws and works well, and can be planed to a smooth surface. It holds nails and screws well and is generally not liable to splitting, although pre-boring is recommended for timber from Burundi.