Characteristics of Sappanwood Tree (Caesalpinia sappan) in the Wild

Caesalpinia sappan
The origin of sappanwood is unknown, but for a long time, the tree was cultivated in India, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, especially as a producer of dyes and traditional medicine.

In every region in Indonesia, sappanwood trees are called by their local names such as Secang (Javanese and Sundanese), Sepang (Betawi), Seupeuĕng (Aceh), Cacang (Minangkabau), Sunyiha (Ternate), Sema (Manado), and Cang (Bali).

In Southeast Asia, sappanwood trees are widely cultivated, some have even spread to nature. In Africa, this tree is found growing in Nigeria, Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Reunion, Mauritius, and South Africa.


Characteristics of Sappanwood Leaf

Caesalpinia sappan Leaf

Sappanwood leaves compound, double pinnate, leaf supports 3-4 mm, the main leaf bone 25-40 cm long, and with 9-14 pairs of side leaf bones.


Characteristics of Sappanwood Flower

Caesalpinia sappan Flower
Source: Forest

Yellow sappanwood flowers, number 5, bald petals, 7-10 × 4 mm petals, the crown of balig hair, 9-11.5 × 6-10 mm.

Characteristics of Sappanwood Fruit

Caesalpinia sappan Fruit

The fruit is oblong 6-10 cm long and 3-4 cm wide, containing 2-4 blackish-brown seeds when ripe.


Characteristics of the Sappanwood Tree

Caesalpinia sappan Tree
Source :

The sappanwood tree grows as a small or shrub with an average height of 6-8 meters. The stem has many bumps, thorns, and the bark is grayish brown. The branches are also thorny curved downward and fuzzy brown.

Sappanwood trees mostly grow naturally in dry, open areas. The tree cannot withstand standing water or wet soil, but it can grow on limestone and sandy soil.



Wood from sappanwood trees is scientifically tested to be antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-photoaging, hypoglycemic (reducing blood sugar levels), vasorelaxant (relaxing blood vessels), hepatoprotective (protecting the liver) and anti-acne (anti-acne). Sappanwood extract is also suspected to have anti-tumor, anti-virus, immunostimulant, and others.

Traditionally, the wood pieces are used as a mixture of herbal ingredients in Java. This is also known as a mixture in making Wedang, Jogja’s specialty drink.

The wood is strong and durable, unfortunately, there is no large and long stem. So, sappanwood can only be used as a tool handle or small and medium-sized household appliances such as picture frames, pegs, etc.


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