Burkea africana is a deciduous, medium-sized, spreading, flat-topped tree up to 8 m high. Leaves are pinnately compound, silvery-pubescent or glabrescent. Each leaf is 100350 mm long, with 24 pairs of pinnae and 518 leaflets per pinna. Leaflets are oval and silvery when they are young and marked with brown spots. Flowers are creamy white, fragrant and in pendulous racemes of up to 300 mm in length. The bark is toxic, rich in alkaloids and tannins and used for tanning leather. Burkea africana, like any other tree, is used for fuel wood, but is not very popular. However, the wood is important for making mortars. The leaves are the only food resource of two kinds of edible caterpillars which are harvested in thousands during the rainy season, mainly January and February. The bark is used as dye for Combretum zeyheri roots which are woven into baskets. The roots are used to treat stomach pain and tooth ache. For both treatments, the outer skin of the roots is scraped away, the roots are cut into pieces of about 50 mm long and are boiled for 5 to 10 min. Used for stomach pain, the infusion has to be cooled down and 3 cups a day are taken. For tooth ache, the infusion has to be still warm. It is swilled in the mouth around the aching tooth for about 3 min. and then spat out. This has to be repeated 3 times a day. The bark of Burkea africana is used medicinally in large areas of sub-Saharan Africa. The constituents responsible for its putative activity are not well known.
USDA Zone - 10
Season to Sow - Spring
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