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close this book Use of Trees by Livestock : Prosopis - Acacia - Gliricidia - Anti-Nutritive Factors - Quercus - Ficus - Calliandra - Erythrina
close this folder Use of Trees by Livestock : Erythrina
View the document Contents
View the document Acknowledgements
View the document Foreword
View the document Genus Erythrina
View the document Summary
View the document Description and distribution
View the document Fodder characteristics
View the document Anti-nutritive factors
View the document Management
View the document Alternative uses
View the document References and further reading

Alternative uses

The alternative uses of the genus Erythrina are described by a number of authors including: Dalziel (1937); Uphof (1968); Wickens (1980); Allen and Allen (1981); Coates Palgrave (1983) Budowski et al., (1986); and CSIR (1986).

Young leaves and tender shoots of species such as E. variegata, E. fuseda and E. rubrinenvia are eaten raw or cooked in India, Indonesia and Central America. Flowers and buds of E. rubrinervia are also consumed as a vegetable. The seeds of E. edulis and E. variegata are boiled and roasted for human consumption in parts of Colombia and India, although those of E. variegata may be poisonous when raw.

Decoctions of the leaves, bark and roots of many species, including E. corallodendron, E. herbacea and E. senegalensis, are used for medicinal purposes in the treatment of wounds and ailments such as jaundice, dysentery, bronchitis and venereal diseases, and to alleviate toothache. The powdered bark of E. senegalensis is administered in water to horses as a diuretic, while E. variegata appears to have anthelmintic properties.

Because of their alkaloid content and their curare like properties, the seeds, stems and bark of many species of Erythrina find uses as poisons for fish, while the powdered seeds of E. herbacea are used to control rats in Mexico. Water extracts of the leaves of E. variegata are highly toxic to the nematodes Meloidogyne incognita and Tylenchorhynchus mashhoodi, offering potential benefits to small farmers for cheap, organic plant pest control (Mohanty and Das, 1988).

The brightly coloured seeds of several species, including E. abyssinica and E. caffra, are strung as beads for decoration, and a fibre derived from the bark of E. senegalensis is made into scented necklaces and bracelets.

The wood is soft, light (specific gravity about 0.25), spongy and usually pale in colour. While rather woolly to work by machine, it may be carved for toys, statuettes and assorted small items including marimbas (type of musical instrument), drums, ladles, jars, stools and packing cases. The wood of E. tahitensis is particularly light and has been used in Hawaii as floats for fish nets and surf boards. It is a favourite canoe wood throughout Polynesia. In general, the wood has little value as either fuelwood or charcoal. The twigs of E. senegalensis may be used as feather dusters.

The bark of E. suberosa is used on the Indian subcontinent in the manufacture of cork plugs and insulation boards. The wood, bark and ash of this species are also used in dyeing.

Several species such as E. berteroana, E. cochleata, E. costaricensis, E. fusca, E. poeppigiana and E. subumbrans (syn. E. Iithosperma), make excellent live fences, shade and green manure trees in plantations of tea, coffee and cocoa, and support trees for vine crops such as peppers. E. americana is amongst the most common live fences in the Tabasco region of Mexico (Vera Castillo, 1987). Many species, including E. abyssinica, E. caffra, E. crista-galli and E. variegata are valued as ornamental shrubs and trees by virtue of their attractive, brightly coloured flowers.