Minor Products of Philippine Forests (osia: Ink, Tannins)

William H. Brown, Ph. D.,
Chief, Division of Investigation, Bureau of Forestry; Professor of Botany,
University of the Philippines; and Plant Physiologist,
Bureau of Science
Volume III
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Bureau of Forestry
Bulletin No, 22
Arthur F. Fischer, Director of Forestry
Bureau of Printing




Local names: Baghagutot (Camiguin Island, Union); bubabot (Abra); matáng-buyúd (Camarines); pagbaotot (Ilocos Norte); tinatináan (Manila); tologtólog (Laguna, Negros).

Ink is prepared from the ripe fruits of this species.

Phyllanthus reticulatus is a shrub 1.5 to 5 meters in height. The leaves are alternate and occur on the stems in two rows. They are 1.5 to 4 centimeters long, rather pale beneath, and have short petioles. The flowers grow singly or in clusters of a few in the axils of the leaves. They are green, tinged with purple, and 2 to 3 millimeters in length. The fruit is rounded and somewhat flattened, soft, fleshy, smooth, 5 to 12 millimeters in diameter, and is black when mature.

Phyllanthus reticulatus is very common and widely distributed in open places and thickets from northern Luzon to southern Mindanao.



The most important commercial sources of tannin in the Philippines are the mangrove swamps, which have been treated in a separate section. The species which is locally used in greatest quantities is Pithecolobium dulce (kamachile). According to Gana, the mangrove swamps and Pithecolobium dulce yield the only barks used by Philippine tanners. Gana investigated a number of species and found a few which have commercial possibilities. These are mentioned in the following discussion.

PINUS INSULARIS Endl. Saleng or Benguet PINE.
A description and figure of this species and its local names are given in the section on resins, gums, and oils.
* Gana, V. Q., Some Philippine tanbarks. Philippine Journal of Science,
Section A, Volume 11 (1916), page 262.
Gana * examined the bark of this species as a tanning material and reported that it contained a very low percentage of tannin, 3.8. It gave a satisfactory leather of reddish tan with firm texture and good grain, but the process of tanning was slow. Gana believed that owing to the good quality of the leather produced and the availability of pine trees, the utilization of this bark as a tanning material was commercially important.

It has been found by the St. Louis College at Baguio that this species furnishes good tanbark.
Weinmannia luzoniensis is a tree reaching a height of 20 meters and a diameter of 50 centimeters. The leaves are opposite, and compound with three to seven leaflets, which are leathery, pointed at both ends, 4 to 10 centimeters in length, and with toothed margins. The flowers are fairly small, white or pinkish, and borne on racemes.
This species is found in the mountains of Luzon and is apparently fairly common in some localities.

PITHECOLOBIUM DULCE (Roxb.) Benth. Kamachile.
A description and figure and the local names of this species are given in the section on food plants.
* Gana, V. Q., The leather industry of the Philippine Islands. Philippine Journal of Science, Section A, Volume 10 (1915). page 353.Gana,* who has made a study of Philippine tanneries, writes as follows concerning this species:
Camanchile bark is used almost exclusively by Filipino tanners, who prefer it on account of the light-colored leather it produces. Because of this demand the price of air-dried camanchile bark has risen as high as 10 pesos per 100 kilograms. The tree is widely scattered throughout the Islands, although nowhere systematically or extensively grown. The present annual consumption of bark amounts to about 1,500 tons. Exhaustion of the supply is threatened, as the trees are commonly killed by too extensive stripping of the bark. The bark is brownish gray and rough outside and reddish brown inside. It produces dull but light-colored leather, which reddens on exposure to light. An infusion of it contains a tannin of the catechol class, which gives a green-black precipitate with iron salts, a light brown precipitate with bromine water, and crimson line when in contact with one drop of concentrated sulphuric acid. Upon analysis a representative sample of the bark gave the following results, calculated on water-free material: Total extract, 34.77 per cent; non-tannin, 9.41 per cent; tannin, 25.36 per cent.
Camanchile bark infusion soon ferments and decomposes in this climate, resulting in the destruction of tannins, the development of a disagreeable odor, and a thickening of the liquid due to a viscous gelatinous formation which accumulates and grows on the surface. A few experiments with phenol as a preservative showed that a concentration of 0.01 per cent does not check the fermentation appreciably, as in a control infusion the tannins were destroyed, the color became a deep wine red—at least three times as intense as the original red orange - a somewhat penetrating smell was given off, and a gelatinous formation and a slimy sediment developed, which made the infusion viscous. After four months the loss of tannin amounted to 15 per cent of the total tannin content. An infusion containing 0.1 per cent phenol at the end of the same period showed a practically unaltered tannin content and an acidity equal to 0.0714 gram acetic acid per 100 cubic centimeters. A little fermentation which soon ceased had produced some slimy sedimentation, but had not altered the appearance or odor of the clear supernatant infusion.
Camanchile bark contains irritating principles, which are believed by laborers in the tanneries to indicate roughly the stength of infusions. Infection of the eyes, producing weakening of the sight, and irritation and swelling of the lids are attributed to them.

A description and figure of this species and its local names are given in the section on resins, gums, and oils.
According to Gana * the bark of this species contains 7.8 per
cent of tannin and gives a satisfactory leather, which is yellowish
tan, with firm texture and good grain. The tanning
process is slow. On account of the value of the nuts and resin
produced by this species, Gana did not believe that the bark
would be available on a commercial scale.
A description and figure of this species and its local names
are given in the section on resins, gums, and oils,
* Gana, V. Q.,  Some Philippine tanbarks. Philippine Journal of Science, Section A, Volume 11 (1916), page 262.Gana * found that the bark of this species contained 11.9 per cent of tannin and that it gave a satisfactory leather similar to pine-tanned leather in color, texture and grain.
This species is fairly abundant. The trees are, however, widely scattered, and the collection of bark from those felled for lumber would be difficult and expensive.

Local names: Dapui (Nueva Vizcaya); labat, ruknikso (Cagayan); malaputat, panabon (Pampanga).
It has been found by the St. Louis College at Baguio that this species furnishes good tanbark.
Ardisia serrata is a tree reaching a height of about 10 meters and a diameter of about 20 centimeters or more. The leaves are opposite, smooth, 10 to 22 centimeters long, 4 to 8 centimeters wide, pointed at both ends, and with rather small, pointed
teeth along the margins. The flowers are fairly small, pinkish, and borne in considerable numbers on compound inflorescences.
The fruits are round, about a centimeter in diameter, and contain a single round seed. When young the fruits are green, but as they ripen they turn red and finally black.
This species is distributed from northern Luzon to Mindanao and is apparently very common.

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