Leguminosae / Mimosoideae, Parkia bicolor, eseng, essang – Gabon, Central W. Africa
Parkia bicolor is a fairly large tree, growing up to 40 m. It’s native range spans from Guinea and Sierra Leone east to eastern DR Congo, and south through Gabon and Congo to Angola.
The wood is used for carpentry, canoes and light construction. The fruit pulp is occasionally eaten and the fermented seeds serve as a condiment for seasoning sauces and soups, in the same way as those of African locust bean (Parkia biglobosa).
The wide, open canopy and nitrogen fixing properties of the P. bicolor make it a suitable agroforestry species. It can be spotted growing in fields that have been cleared of forest for agricultural land.
Medicinally, a bark maceration is applied to treat eye irritations, a bark decoction treats toothache, dried and powdered bark is applied to enhance healing of wounds and sores, and a vapor bath of the bark is used to treat rheumatism. Leaf pulp is rubbed on smallpox and chicken pox to alleviate itching. Roots are used to treat measles, infertility in women and sexually a number of transmitted diseases.
I took the flower and leaf photographs (below) in Gabon.
Click individual photos to enlarge.