D. apetalum commonly known as Bois de gaulette or red saga wood, is a dioecious tree (having male and female reproductive parts in different trees), measuring up to 15 meters. Straight, long and tapered branches stem from its base. The dark brown twigs are scatter with lenticels, which are raised pores in the stem of a woody plant that allows gas exchange between the atmosphere and the internal tissues. The alternate leaves are paripinnate; meaning it has pairs of leaflets along the rachis without a single terminal leaflet. It is a heterophyllous plant with adult leaves differing from juvenile ones. Flowers are composed of 5 pubescent sepals and no petals. Male flowers occur in dense clusters of 50 or more flowers, while female flowers can be observed in groups of 10 to 15 flowers. The tree produces brown-black, olive-sized drupes which contain black shiny seeds.
The species is endemic to Mauritius and Reunion. Common in our forests, it is one of the pioneers of undergrowth vegetation and produces many fruit that are dispersed by birds. The seeds germinate easily.
D. apetalum is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Seedlings and seeds collected in the wild are propagated in nurseries for forest rehabilitation projects and landscaping. The plant is not at risk since it produces a lot of fruit and seedlings, but the invasion of exotic species has reduced the size of its population in recent years.
Doratoxylon apetalum, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, is used in baths to heal cutaneous infections.
Its vernacular name comes from the vertical roots that come from the base of the trunk in long straight sticks.
Atkinson, Rachel, and Jean-Claude Sevathian. 2005. A guide to the plants in Mauritius. Vacoas: Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
CIRAD. 2008. Doratoxylon apelatum. [En ligne]. http://arbres-reunion.cirad.fr/especes/sapindaceae/doratoxylon_apetalum_poir_radlk