Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Madagascar (Africa & Madagascar)
United States (North America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Palacky, J. 1906-1907. Cat. Pl. Madagasc. Prague. 4 fasc. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/2123
- Vatke, W. 1882. Plantas in itinere africano ab J.M. Hildebrandt collectas determinare pergit. Linnaea 43: 305–340. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/17461
- Rutenberg, C. 1880-1889. Reliquiae Rutenbergianae. Abh. Naturwiss. Vereine Bremen 7(1): 1–54; 7(2): 198–214; 7(3): 335–365; 9(4): 401–403; 10(3): 369–396. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/7755
- Flora of China Editorial Committee. 1995. Fl. China 16: 1–479. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1018513
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat & Distribution
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Needs updating
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Cordia subcordata is a species of flowering tree in the borage family, Boraginaceae, that is native to eastern Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, northern Australia and the Pacific Islands. The plant is known by a variety of names including Mareer, Kerosene wood, Manjak, Snottygobbles, Glueberry, Narrow-leafed Bird Lime Tree, "Kanawa," Tou, and Kou.
The tubular flowers of C. subcordata are 2.5–4 cm (0.98–1.57 in) in diameter and form cymes or panicles. Petals are orange and the sepals are pale green. Blooming occurs throughout the year, but most flowers are produced in the spring.
C. subcordata produces fruit year round. They are spherical, 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long, and woody when mature. Each fruit contains four or fewer seeds that are 10–13 mm (0.39–0.51 in) long. The fruit are buoyant and may be carried long distances by ocean currents.
C. subcordata is a tree of the coasts, found at elevations from sea level to 30 m (98 ft), but may grow at up to 150 m (490 ft). It grows in areas that receive 1,000–4,000 mm (39–157 in) of annual rainfall. C. subcordata prefers neutral to alkaline soils (pH of 6.1 to 7.4), such as those originating from basalt, limestone, clay, or sand. Allowable soil textures include sand, sandy loam, loam, sandy clay loam, sandy clay, clay loam, and clay.
The seeds are edible and have been eaten during famine. C. subcordata burns readily, and this led to the nickname of Kerosene Tree in Papua New Guinea. The wood of the tree has a specific gravity of 0.45, is soft, durable, easily worked, and resistant to termites. In ancient Hawaiʻi kou wood was used to make ʻumeke (bowls), utensils, and ʻumeke lāʻau (large calabashes) because it did not impart a foul taste to food. ʻUmeke lāʻau were 8–16 litres (2–4 gal) and used to store and ferment poi. The flowers were used to make lei, while a dye for kapa cloth and aho (fishing lines) was derived from the leaves.
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1998). Cordia subcordata. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- "Cordia subcordata Lam.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2005-11-09. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- Friday, J. B.; Dana Okano (April 2006). Cordia subcordata (kou) (PDF). The Traditional Tree Initiative. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- Allen, James A. (2003-01-01). "Cordia subcordata Lam." (PDF). Tropical Tree Seed Manual. Reforestation, Nurseries & Genetics Resources. Retrieved 2009-02-24.[dead link]