Sappan Wood
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Sappan Wood
ative Photo: J. M. Garg
Common name: Sappan Wood, Brazil wood • Hindi: Patamg, Bakam • Kannada: ಸಪ್ಪಂಗ Sappanga, ಪತಂಗ Patanga • Malayalam: Chappannam, Sappannam • Marathi: Patang, Pathang • Sanskrit: Patrangah, Patangah • Tamil: Sappamgu, Patamgam • Telugu: Bakaruchakka
Botanical name: Caesalpinia sappan    Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Gulmohar family)
Synonyms: Biancaea sappan

Sappan Wood is a small thorny tree, 6-9 m in height and 15-25 cm in trunk diameter with a few prickly branches. Leaves are double-compound, alternately arranged, 20-45 cm long, 10-20 cm broad, with 8-16 pairs of up to 20 cm long side-stalks. Side-stalks are prickles at the base and with 10-20 pairs of oblong, 10-20 mm x 6-10 mm long leaflets, very oblique at base, rounded to notched at the tip. Yellow flowers are borne panicles in leaf axils and at the end of branches. Flowers fragrant, 2-3 cm long, 5-merous. Stamens are waxy-white, filaments densely woolly at the base. Fruits are woody pods, compressed with a hard recurved short beak, with 3-4 seeds. The heartwood which is used in medicine is light yellow when freshly cut, but it quickly changes to red. The color diffuses out easily in hot water. In about 7-10 hours the extract becomes deep orange in color. Sappan-wood was a major trade good during the 17th century, when it was exported from Southeast Asian nations aboard red seal ships to Japan.

Identification credit: J. M. Garg Photographed in Herbal Garden, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

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