Pterocarpus is a pantropical genus of trees in the family Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Faboideae, and was recently assigned to the informal monophyletic Pterocarpus clade within the Dalbergieae.[1][2] Most species of Pterocarpus yield valuable timber traded as padauk (or padouk); other common names are mukwa or narra. P. santalinus also yields the most precious red sandalwood in China known as Zitan.[3][4] The wood from the narra tree (P. indicus) and the Burmese padauk tree (P. macrocarpus) is marketed as amboyna when it has grown in the burl form.[5] The scientific name is Latinized Ancient Greek and means "wing fruit", referring to the unusual shape of the seed pods in this genus.

Pterocarpus santalinus seed pods
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Dalbergieae
Genus: Pterocarpus

See text

  • Amphymenium Kunth
  • Phellocarpus Benth.
  • Pterocarpus L.
Wood of P. officinalis


Padauk wood is obtained from several species of Pterocarpus. All padauks are of African or Asian origin. Padauks are valued for their toughness, stability in use, and decorativeness, most having a reddish wood. Most Pterocarpus[6] woods contain either water- or alcohol-soluble substances and can be used as dyes.

The padauk found most often is African padauk from P. soyauxii which, when freshly cut, is a very bright red/orange but when exposed to sunlight fades over time to a warm brown. Its colour makes it a favourite among woodworkers. Burmese padauk (ပိတောက်) is P. macrocarpus while Andaman padauk is P. dalbergioides. Padauks can be confused with true rosewoods to which they are somewhat related, but as a general rule padauks are coarser and less decorative in figure. Like rosewood, padauk is sometimes used to make xylophone, organ and marimba keys, and guitars. It is an important material in traditional Chinese furniture.

African padauk wood

Some padauks, e.g. P. soyauxii, are used as herbal medicines, for example to treat skin parasites and fungal infections.[7]


Pterocarpin is a pterocarpan found in Pterocarpus spp.[8]


A total of 35 species is currently accepted:[9][10]

  • Pterocarpus acapulcensis Rose
  • Pterocarpus albopubescens Hauman
  • Pterocarpus amazonum (Benth.) Amshoff
  • Pterocarpus angolensis DC.kiaat
  • Pterocarpus antunesii (Taub.) Harms
  • Pterocarpus brenanii Barbosa & Torre
  • Pterocarpus claessensii De Wild.
  • Pterocarpus dalbergioides DC.—Andaman padauk, Andaman redwood, East Indian mahogany
  • Pterocarpus echinatus Pers.[Note 1]
  • Pterocarpus erinaceus Poir.muninga, barwood, vène
  • Pterocarpus gilletii De Wild.
  • Pterocarpus hockii De Wild.
  • Pterocarpus homblei De Wild.
  • Pterocarpus indicus Willd.Pashu padauk, Malay padauk, New Guinea rosewood
  • Pterocarpus lucens Guill. & Perr.
  • Pterocarpus macrocarpus KurzBurmese padauk
  • Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb.Indian kino, Malabar kino, benga, bijiayasal (w Nepal), venkai
  • Pterocarpus mildbraedii Harms
  • Pterocarpus mutondo De Wild.
  • Pterocarpus officinalis Jacq.
  • Pterocarpus orbiculatus DC.
  • Pterocarpus osun Craib
  • Pterocarpus rohrii Vahl
  • Pterocarpus rotundifolius (Sond.) Druce
    • subsp. polyanthus (Harms) Mendonça & E. P. Sousa
      • var. martinii (Dunkley) Mendonça & E. P. Sousa
      • var. polyanthus (Harms) Mendonça & E. P. Sousa
    • subsp. rotundifolius (Sond.) Druce
  • Pterocarpus santalinoides DC.—mututi
  • Pterocarpus santalinus L. sandalwood, red sanders
  • Pterocarpus soyauxii Taub.—African padauk, African coralwood
  • Pterocarpus ternatus Rizzini
  • Pterocarpus tessmannii Harms
  • Pterocarpus tinctorius Welw.
  • Pterocarpus velutinus De Wild.
  • Pterocarpus villosus (Benth.) Benth.
  • Pterocarpus violaceus Vogel
  • Pterocarpus zehntneri Harms
  • Pterocarpus zenkeri Harms


1 Some sources treat P. echinatus as a synonym of P. indicus.


  1. Lavin M, Pennington RT, Klitgaard BB, Sprent JI, de Lima HC, Gasson PE (2001). "The dalbergioid legumes (Fabaceae): delimitation of a pantropical monophyletic clade". Am J Bot. 88 (3): 503–33. doi:10.2307/2657116. JSTOR 2657116. PMID 11250829.
  2. Cardoso D, Pennington RT, de Queiroz LP, Boatwright JS, Van Wyk BE, Wojciechowskie MF, Lavin M (2013). "Reconstructing the deep-branching relationships of the papilionoid legumes". S Afr J Bot. 89: 58–75. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.05.001.
  3. "Zitan | The Wood Database - Lumber Identification (Hardwood)". Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  4. "Chinese National Standard for Rosewood Furniture - QB/T 2385-2008" (PDF).
  5. Meier E. "The Wood Database".
  6. "Narra". OneToTree. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  7. "AgroForestryTree Database entry for Pterocarpus soyauxii". AgroForestryTree Database. World Agroforestry Centre (WAC). Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  8. "Pterocarpin at knapsack_jsp". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  9. "ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Pterocarpus". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  10. USDA; ARS; National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Pterocarpus". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2014.

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