Lannea microcarpa Engl. In West Africa the bark of Lannea microcarpa is employed to dye cotton textiles a red-brown colour. Garments made with plain ochre-red cloth or with black designs on an ochre-red ground obtained with this dye are mostly worn by men, originally in blood-shedding circumstances such as hunting and war. The red dye has protective symbolic power, hides bloodstains and is believed to heal the wounds. It is also used by both sexes for ritual clothes worn at crucial stages of life such as circumcision and excision, delivery and death.
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Lannea microcarpa Engl. In West Africa the bark of Lannea microcarpa is employed to dye cotton textiles a red-brown colour. Garments made with plain ochre-red cloth or with black designs on an ochre-red ground obtained with this dye are mostly worn by men, originally in blood-shedding circumstances such as hunting and war.
The red dye has protective symbolic power, hides bloodstains and is believed to heal the wounds. It is also used by both sexes for ritual clothes worn at crucial stages of life such as circumcision and excision, delivery and death.
These textiles belong to the bogolan group. In Ghana among the Akan and the Ashanti people, the dye from the bark is traditionally used for mourning clothes although red synthetic dyestuffs may now be used instead. The young leaves are eaten as a vegetable and cattle browse leaves as a forage. The fruits are eaten raw or dried and a fermented drink is prepared from the pulp.
The wood is white, light, easy to work but deteriorates quickly; it is used in Senegal to make hoe handles and throughout West Africa as fuel and to make charcoal. Ropes are made from the very fibrous bark. The bark yields an edible gum which is soluble in water. In Benin dried pulverized aerial parts are rubbed into scarifications against pain between the ribs and are taken internally against colic.
A leaf decoction is drunk to treat swellings; it is also added to a bath. In Ghana leaves are used as a dressing for wounds. In Senegal wood ash is applied to maturate abscesses. In Nigeria leaves, bark, roots and fruits are applied to treat mouth blisters, rheumatism, sore throat, dysentery, as a cathartic and as a dressing on boils. The fruits contain anthocyanins, about mg per g dry pulp.
Lannea comprises about 40 species, most of them restricted to Africa, and the bark of many of them is or has been used as a source of a red-brown dye. Although most species can easily be distinguished botanically, in several areas different species bear similar vernacular names. Therefore, the exact identity of the species used in a particular dyeing process is not always certain, except from field observations complemented by botanical identification of the collected dye material.
It is also possible that bark mixtures are used sometimes. Lannea acida A. It turns yellow if acids are added to the bath. In this process a mordant has to be used. However, Lannea acida is more important medicinally.
The bark of Lannea schweinfurthii Engl. The bark of Lannea welwitschii Hiern Engl. Leaves fall off at the beginning of the dry season; flowering is at the end of the dry season, before the appearance of the new leaves.
Lannea microcarpa occurs in savanna vegetation. It prefers deep friable soil and is often found on cultivated land, where it is not cut down but preserved for its edible fruits. It also occurs on rocky soil in Sahel savanna. Lannea species are not cultivated for dyeing purposes. They can be propagated by seed. The bark is pounded and boiled for 2—3 hours in water. Towards the end of this period a small ladleful of wood ash is added as mordant, resulting in a darker coloured liquid that is kept boiling strongly for about half an hour.
After it has cooled down, the decoction is filtered and is then ready for use as a dye bath. To obtain a faster colour, bogolan dyers associate this dye with a decoction of the bark of Anogeissus leiocarpa DC.
The cotton cloth is plunged once into the Lannea dye-bath, then 3 times in the Anogeissus bath and finally once again in the Lannea bath. Between each dyeing, the cloth is dried in the sun.
Subsequently the cloth is dyed using iron-rich mud of the bogolan technique. The dye is not very fast, except in the black parts of the design. Lannea microcarpa is widespread and is not in danger of genetic erosion. In the northern parts of Burkina Faso it is considered vulnerable. The use of Lannea bark for red dyeing is still important and widespread in West Africa.
As the dye is becoming more and more popular in the modern forms of the bogolan textile production, cultivation of the main local species, Lannea microcarpa and Lannea acida , is to be recommended, especially since they also produce edible young leaves and fruits, and are used medicinally, particularly to cure skin affections.
Lannea microcarpa Engl. Publisher Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew. Their Characteristics and Uses. Publisher Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany Year ISBN Description A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses. The tree has a range of uses, being harvested from the wild to provide food, medicines, fibre, dyestuff and fuel for the local people. Because it provides a good shade, and a nutritious crop of food, the tree is typically protected when farmers clear the forest for agriculture[ Title Lost Crops of Africa. Very comprehensive as regards to species covered, but the information on each species is often rather terse.