Bois de LaitTabernaemontana persicariaefolia

  • Forests
  • Mountain slopes and forests
  • Flora
  • Endemic


T. persicariaefolia is a small tree measuring between 1.5 to 10 meters in height.  Locally known as bois de lait, the tree branches are in pairs and bears flowers on each embranchment.  The tree has white spots on its bark. Its large, shiny green leaves are simple, opposite and have wavy wedges[1]. Venation is whitish. Bois de Lait contains milky white latex as is common with other species of the same genus, commonly called milkwood and giving it its local name. The species’ inflorescence occurs with white or yellow tubular, helical and fragrant flowers which have five petals. The fruit resemble large nuts and occur in pairs.



Habitat and ecology

The tree is endemic to the Mascarenes. It occurs in different types of habitats throughout Mauritius, from dry to upland forest. The main population is found in the intermediate forest and undisturbed dry forests. This species among others forms the undergrowth vegetation. The endemic Echo parakeet (Psittacula eques) is very fond of the green fruits.


Conservation and management

The tree is considered ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN List of Threatened Species[1]. The population size is declining due to habitat loss and the invasion of exotic species. The seeds and the plantlets are propagated in nurseries for forest restoration projects.



Did you know?

All part of “bois de lait” contains milky white latex commonly called milkwood and giving it its local name.

Its yellowish wood is of good quality and hard, it has been used it the past making jewellery boxes.


CIRAD. 2008. Xylopia richardii Boivin ex Baill. [En ligne] (Page consultée en juillet 2018)

 Strahm, W. 1998.  Tabernaemontana persicariifolia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1998: e.T32491A9704732. [En ligne] (Page consultée le 6 août 2018)