Wenge (Millettia laurentii)

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Millettia laurentii flowers
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Wenge fact file

Wenge description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderFabales
FamilyLeguminosae
GenusMillettia (1)

A medium-sized tree, Millettia laurentii is mostly known for its attractive wood, which is dark brown, with black and white streaks, and is very strong and dense (2). The leaves are composed of several pairs of pointed, oblong leaflets, which branch from a central stem, with a single leaflet growing from the tip. During flowering this species produces an abundance of beautiful rose-pink flowers, borne in clusters on small stalks that branch from a larger central stem. After pollination, the tree produces numerous tough-skinned pods containing a small number of seeds (3).

Size
Height: 15 – 18 m (2)
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Wenge biology

Species of the genus Millettia generally possess poisonous chemicals in their tissues (3), and while Millettia laurentii is not considered to be particularly toxic (4), the wood from this species is highly resistant to fungal and insect attack (3).

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Wenge range

Millettia laurentii is found in the Congo Basin, where it occurs in Cameroon, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon (1).

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Wenge habitat

Millettia laurentii a component of semi-deciduous, sometimes swampy, forest (1).

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Wenge status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Wenge threats

The major threat to Millettia laurentii is its overexploitation for its wood, which is occurring throughout much of its range (1). There is currently very little regulation to prevent the expansion of the logging industry throughout the Congo Basin, hence endangered trees, such as Millettia laurentii, are greatly at risk (1) (5).

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Wenge conservation

Although the deforestation of the Congo Basin is extensive and ongoing, numerous conservation organisations are working to preserve the region’s forests (5) (6) (7). Hopefully, their efforts should help to ensure the survival of this endangered tree.

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Find out more

To find out more about conservation in the Congo Basin visit:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Pollination
The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Woodworkers Source (April, 2009)
    http://www.exotichardwoods-africa.com/wenge.htm
  3. Allen, E.K. (1981) The Leguminosae, a source book of characteristics, uses, and nodulation. University of Wisconsin Press, Wisconsin.
  4. The Wood Database (April, 2009)
    http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/wenge
  5. Conservation International (April, 2009)
    http://www.conservation.org/EXPLORE/PRIORITY_AREAS/WILDERNESS/Pages/congobasin.aspx
  6. WWF (April, 2009)
    http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/congo
  7. World Conservation Society – Congo (April, 2009)
    http://www.wcs-congo.org
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Image credit

Millettia laurentii flowers  
Millettia laurentii flowers

© Paul Latham

Paul Latham
Croft Cottage
Forneth
Blairgowrie
Perthshire
PH10 6SW
United Kingdom
paul@latham9.fsnet.co.uk
http://home.scarlet.be/~tsh77586/Latham2.htm

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