Pterocarpus angolensis is a kind of teak native to southern Africa, known by various names such as Kiaat, Mukwa, and Muninga. It is also called the Bloodwood tree, so named for the tree’s remarkable dark red colored sap. A chopped trunk or or a damaged branch of the tree starts dripping deep red fluid, almost like a severed limb of an animal. The sticky, reddish-brown sap seals the wound to promote healing.
The red sap is used traditionally as a dye and in some areas mixed with animal fat to make a cosmetic for faces and bodies. It is also believed to have magical properties for the curing of problems concerning blood, apparently because of its close resemblance to blood. The tree is also used for treating many medical conditions such as ringworm, stabbing pains, eye problems, malaria, blackwater fever, stomach problems and to increase the supply of breast milk.
The wood makes high-quality furniture, as it can be easily carved, glues and screws well and takes a fine polish. It shrinks very little when drying from the green condition, and this quality, together with its high durability, makes it particularly suitable for boat building, canoes and bathroom floors.
Because of its great value to the indigenous peoples of the central and southern Africa, these trees are being harvested at an unsustainable rate leading to its decline in recent decades.
The Bloodwood tree grows 12 to 18 meters tall, has dark-brown rough bark, a beautiful umbrella-shaped spreading crown and bears yellow flowers.
When the tree is cut, the sap is reflexively generated to clean and heal the “wound.”
Locals use the sap to cure eye problems, stomach bugs, and to encourage the production of breast milk.
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