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Baphia nitida


Baphia nitida Lodd.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Common Name: Camwood, African Sandlewood, Barwood

Baphia nitida, which is commonly known as Camwood is a shrub that is commonly cultivated as hedge especially around schools. It has glossy dark green leaves and attractive white pea-like flowers.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Open
Maximum Height 3 m to 10 m


Native Distribution Tropical Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Casual))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Small to medium sized shrub, about to grow up to about 4 - 5 m tall.
Foliage Smooth, green leaves are oval-shaped, measuring about 10 - 15 cm long.
Flowers Flowers white, pea-like and fragrant, having a bright yellow centre.
Fruit Fruits are pods, usually contains 2 - 4 brown, flat seeds. 
Cultivation In Singapore, this species is often grown as a hedge around schools.
Etymology Genus Baphia refers to using the heartwood of the plant to extract a red dye. Species nitida refers to the wood having a polished surface. 
Ethnobotanical Uses Timber & Products: A red or reddish brown dye can be extracted from the heartwood. In Singapore, the wood was once commonly used to make walking sticks.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping Ideal as hedges for screening purpose.
Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers)
Landscape Uses Hedge / Screening

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green
Young Flush Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Acute, Rounded / Obtuse
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Papilionaceous / Pea-shaped
Flowering Habit Polycarpic


References Science Club River Valley High School. 1991. A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of Schools in Singapore. Singapore: Hillview Publications. 169

Image Repository



Master ID 421
Species ID 1717
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 10 August 2022.