Erythrophleum suaveolens

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Ordeal Tree
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Erythrophleum
Species: E. suaveolens
Binomial name
Erythrophleum suaveolens
(Guill. & Perr.) Brenan

Fillaea suaveolens Guill. & Perr.

Erythrophleum suaveolens is a species of plants that can be found in Mozambique[1] and Zimbabwe. The species are 20 metres (66 ft) in height, and have a rough and blackish bark. The plants leaves have 2–3 pairs of pinnae, which carry 7–13 leaflets. The leaflets are 5 by 2.5 centimetres (1.97 in × 0.98 in), are green coloured and ovate. The flowers have fluffy spikes, and are creamy-yellow coloured. Fruits are hard, the pod of which is flat.[2]

The bark of the tree has been used in Liberia to make a toxic concoction used for a form of trial by ordeal called "sassywood".[3] This use has given it the common name of the "Ordeal Tree".[4]


  1. ^ Mozambique distribution
  2. ^ Zimbabwian distribution and description
  3. ^ Leeson, P. T.; Coyne, C. J. (2012). "Sassywood" (PDF). Journal of Comparative Economics. 40 (4): 608. doi:10.1016/j.jce.2012.02.002. 
  4. ^ "Erythrophleum suaveolens". Urban Forest. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 

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