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Check-lists, sources and records

C 60

- check-list for nursery trees not growing well

FeaturePossible reasons for poor growthSee sheet number
 twistedAphids attacking plant?
Leaf damaged earlier by drought or insects?
C 45
C 13, 41, 45
 pale colourSoil lacks nutrient(s)?
Nutrients unbalanced?
Natural feature of new leaves - colour develops later?
C 14, 33
C 14, 33
C 12
 very smallA feature of the particular genetic origin?
Young tree has branched a lot?
Not enough shade?
Previous water stress?
Shortage of nutrients?
C 5
C 5, 12, 55
C 41
C 13, 25, 41, 46
C 14, 33
 prone to wiltShade reduced too quickly?
Soil too rich and leaves too big?
Roots damaged in potting or transplanting?
Roots have not had time to grow into new soil?
Roots attacked by pest or disease?
C 41, 47
C 6, 23, 33, 34
C 4, 40, 42
C 42, 47
C 45
 fall off earlySudden change in environment?
Too rapid hardening?
Pots too small?
Watering problems?
Plants attacked by pest or disease?
C 4, 25, 40, 46
C 47
C 6, 63
C 43, 52
C 45
 have holesCaterpillars or leaf-miners?
Leaf-cutting ants?
C 45
C 45
 tornLarge, soft leaves damaged by wind?
Careless handling of plants?
Birds taking insects?
C 25, 45
C 40, 50, 52
C 45
 spindlyPlants too close to each other?Shade too heavy?
Pots too small?
Poor potting mix?
Competition from weeds?
C 42
C 41
C 6
C 6
C 44
 growth stoppedThe species grows in height by periodic flushing?
Soil unsuitable?
Plants short of nutrients?
Watering problems?
Environment too shady?
C 12, 55
C 6, 20, 23
C 14, 33
C 43
C 41
 bentGenetic characteristic of the species?
Temporary feature of young shoots?
Edge plant with one-sided foliage?
Not enough shelter from wind?
C 5
C 12
C 7, 48
C 25, 46
 die-back of tipSoil waterlogged?
Previous severe water stress?
Insect attack?
C 6, 20, 23, 67
C 13, 41, 55
C 45
 broken tipCareless handling?
Severe storm?
Stem-boring insects?
Large animal in nursery?
C 40, 50
C 3, 25
C 45
C 3, 25, 46
 forkingNatural feature of the species or clone?
Birds attacking buds?
Response to previous die-back or breakage?
C 5
C 45
C 55
 pot-boundContainers too small?
Tree too long in same pot?
C 6
C 6, 42
 few seenDamaged in potting up?
Unsuitable pH of potting mix or bed?
Most roots are in the ground beneath the pot?
C 42
C 6, 23
C 4, 41, 42
 many deadSoil poorly aerated or waterlogged?
Root disease?
Nematodes or other pest damaging them?
C 6, 23
C 45
C 45
 small clusters along rootsBeneficial nitrogen-fixing nodules?
Root aphis or similar pest?
C 32
C 45
 fine threads near rootsBeneficial mycorrhizal fungus?
Harmful fungus?
C 31
C 45
 stuntedSeed-lot with inbreeding depression?
Shoot development is naturally slower than root growth?
Plants need to be repotted into larger containers?
Different potting mix or nurery soil required?
Shortage of a nutrient?
Inoculation for mycorrhizas or nodules needed?
Altered shading required?
C 5
C 11, 12
C 6, 42
C 6
C 14, 33
C 30, 31, 32
C 41
 trees dyingUnsuitable species or provenance?
Poor clone?
Unfavourable nursery environment?
Insufficient care of young trees?
Virus disease?
Serious pest?
C 5
C 5
C 3, 4
C 40, 50, 52
C 45, 53
C 45, 53
  Unless the batch is specially valuable, break up the soil on a few sample plants and examine the roots, root-collar, stems and leaves in detail, to find out what may be wrong with them.

Suggested action to be takenSheet number

For unsuitable genetic origins:C 5
  1. Try several different provenances, local seed sources, or clones;
  2. Avoid collecting seed from single trees or very small groups.
Difficult nursery soils:C 23

Work into the topsoil of seed and transplant beds, if the nursery soil is:

  1. too acid, either ground limestone, lime or a fertiliser that increases the pH;
  2. alkaline, add flowers of sulphur or a fertiliser that lowers the pH;
  3. too heavy, work in some sharp sand;
  4. too sandy, work in some silt and extra organic matter;
  5. too hard, try cultivation and extra organic matter, sand or forest topsoil;
  6. too wet, try digging drains and using raised nursery beds;
  7. too dry, try sunken beds and mulching.
Container problems:C 6
  1. Try out pots of different size, shape or type;
  2. Consider using ‘root-trainers’;
  3. Make up a different potting mix;
  4. Stand the containers on a different surface.
Unsuitable potting mixtures:C 6, 30, 42
  1. If drainage is poor, add more sharp sand or grit, check the holes in the containers, and also the standing ground;
  2. If pots drain too freely, add more organic matter and finer components, and consider whether the young trees should be potted up more firmly;
  3. If the pH is unsuitable, treat the potting mixture as for nursery soils above, but avoiding too much of any nutrient;
  4. If a crust of algae forms on the surface, use a mixture less rich in nutrients, and break up the crust with a sharpened stick;
  5. If a micro-nutrient is lacking, add some good topsoil or sieved compost or a small amount of a suitable fertiliser;
  6. If the species has a close association with a micro-organism, mix in chopped roots and topsoil from under a thriving stand of the same species, nursery soil from a bed where it has grown well, or a special inoculum if this is available.
Problems with watering:C 24, 40, 43, 66
  1. Check water purity and availability, and install a reserve supply;
  2. Check the type of container, potting mix and potting up techniques;
  3. Increase the spacing of plants to allow water to reach each pot;
  4. Consider changing the way the water is put on;
  5. Explain the desired watering method more clearly, and check that it is adopted.
Difficulties over light and shade:C 41, 47, 48
  1. Put the young trees under temporarily heavier shade when their root systems have been disturbed, but avoid keeping them in deep shade too long;
  2. Reduce shading gradually, rather than suddenly, allowing for changing seasons;
  3. Consider planting suitable shade trees.
Shelter problems:C 25, 46, 48
  1. Plant hedges to check the force of the wind and reduce water loss by the young trees;
  2. Raise small seedlings and delicate species under a roof to protect them from heavy raindrops;
  3. Consider building a shadehouse or simple greenhouse.
Dealing with insect pests:C 45, 61-C
  1. Look out for early signs of a pest attack, including a check on the roots of the trees;
  2. Take off or squash the insects, and check again every day or two;
  3. Remove any nearby plants or weeds that may be acting as a centre for spread;
  4. Spray affected trees with water containing a little detergent, or if necessary with an insecticide.
Other pest problems:C 45, 61-C
  1. Try to find out what kind of pest is present, and how it can be controlled;
  2. Follow (1–4) above, where appropriate;
  3. Avoid spreading the resting stages of the pest to other plants, for instance through topsoil, compost or mulch.
Difficulties due to disease:C 45
  1. Try not to have very damp, cool and shady environments, except for poly-propagators;
  2. Remove weeds and rotting leaves regularly;
  3. Look out for signs of problems, such as moulds on young leaves, cankers on stems or roots that are dying;
  4. Increase ventilation and consider decreasing shade and watering;
  5. Search for a book or someone who can identify what kind of micro-organism is responsible;
  6. If necessary, spray with a fungicide, or add one to the potting mix.
Careless handling of plants:C 40, 50, 52
  1. Explain the reasons for handling young trees carefully;
  2. Correct anyone who is treating them roughly;
  3. If work is paid by the amount done, consider changing to a system with a bonus for the number of good plants raised.
Other problems: 
  1. For poorly rooted cuttings, see sheets A 2, A 50 and A 61 in Manual 1;
  2. For poor seed germination, see Manual 2.


C 61

- some information about nurseries

(A) Tree nursery manuals:

Anonymous (1986). Manuel de viveros y plantaciones escolares. Ministerio de Educacion/Ministerio de Agricultura, Lima, Peru.

Anonymous (1987). El establecimiento y manejo de un pequeno vivero forestal. Banco Nacional de Costa Rica/El Cuerpo de Paz de los Estados Unidos.

Anonymous (1996). Field guide on improved nursery technology, Andhra Pradesh Forest Department, Hyderabad, India.

Arroyo, G.S., Bolanos, S.R. and Murillo, L.F. (1989). Manuel metodologico viveros forestales. Proyecto Cooperativo de Educacion Forestal, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Carter, E.J. (1987). From seed to trial establishment. A handbook giving practical guidelines in nursery practice and the establishment of simple species and/or provenance trials. DFR User Series, 2, Division of Forest Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, P.O. Box 4008, Yarralumla, ACT 2600, Australia.

Davey, C.B. (1984). Pine nursery establishment and operation in the American tropics. Central America and Mexico Resources Cooperative, North Carolina State University, Bulletin 1.

Dirr, M.A. and Heuser, C.W., Jr. (1987). The reference manual of woody plant propagation. Varsity Press, Inc., P.O. Box 6301, Athens, Georgia, USA.

Dupriez, H. and de Leener, P. (1983). Fardins et vergers d'Afrique. Terres et Vie, Nivelles, Belgium.

Dupriez, H. and de Leener, P. (1992). African gardens and orchards. Macmillan, London, England.

Duryea, M.L. and Landis, T.D. (Eds.) (1984). Forest Nursery Manual: production of bareroot seedlings. Martinus Nijhoff/W. Junk, The Hague, Netherlands.

Fuller, B.R. (1983). Planting and managing kraal woodlots. Forestry Commission, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Gerber, H.L. and Herbst, F.A. (1982). Tree nursery handbook. Department of Environmental Affairs, Pretoria, S. Africa.

Goeltenboth, F. (Ed.) et al. (1990). Subsistence agriculture improvement: manual for the humid tropics. Wau Ecology Handbook, 10, 2nd edn, section 4, Wau Ecology Institute, Wau, Papua New Guinea/Tropical Agroecology, 4, Margraf Scientific Publishers, Weikersheim, Germany.

Goor, A.Y. and Barney, C.W. (1968). Forest tree planting in arid zones, Chapter 3: Forest-tree nurseries, Ronald Press, New York, USA.

GTZ (1976). Manual of reforestation and erosion control for the Philippines. German Agency for Technical Co-operation, P.O. Box 5180, Eschborn, Germany.

ILO (1989). Tree nurseries: an illustrated technical guide and training manual. International Labour Organization, Special Public Works Programmes, Booklet 6.

Liegel, L.H. and Venator, C.R. (1987). A technical guide for forest nursery management in the Caribbean and Latin America. Forest Service, U.S. Dept. of Agric., Gen. Tech. Report SO-67.

Mung'ala, P.M., Kuyper, J.B.H. and Kimwe, S. (1988). On-farm tree nurseries. Kenya Woodfuel Development Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.

Napier, I. (1985). Técnicas de viveros forestales con referencia especial a Centroamérica. Publicación Miscelanea 5, Escuela Nacional Ciencias Forestales, Siguatepeque, Honduras, Central America.

Napier, I and Robbins, M. (1989). Forest seed and nursery practice in Nepal. Nepal/UK Forestry Research Project, Dept of Forestry and Plant Research, Babar Mahal, P.O. Box 3339, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Napier, I. and Willan, R.G. (1983). Nursery techniques for tropical pines. Danida Forest Seed Centre, Humlebæk, Denmark, Technical Note 3.

Nieuwenhuis, J. and Hussain, R. (1990) Nursery techniques training manual. Malakand Social Forestry Project, NWFP Forest Department, Pakistan.

Pancel, L. (1993). Nursery management. Pp 464–514 in Tropical forestry handbook, ed. Pancel, L., Volume 1, Springer, Heidelberg, Germany.

Thunberg, J. (1984). Village nurseries for forest trees: how to set them up and how to run them. Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), Stockholm.

Tinus, R.W. and McDonald, S.E. (1979). How to grow tree seedlings in containers in greenhouses. Forest Service, U.S. Dept. of Agric., General Technical Report RM-60.

Weber, F.R. (1986). Reforestation in arid lands. 2nd edition, VITA, 1815 North Lynn St, Suite 200, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Zaïre/Canada (1988). La production de semis en pepinière Projet Pilote d'appui aux Reboisements Communitaires, Publ. 88/2 (in French and Kikongo), Kinshasa, Zaïre.

Zaïre/Canada (1990). Disposition, entretien et protection des plantations. Projet Pilote d'appui aux Reboisements Communitaires, Publ. 90/1 (in French and Kikongo), Kinshasa, Zaïre.

(B) Nursery tools, containers, materials and equipment:

Appleton, B.L. (1993). Nursery production alternatives for reduction or elimination of circling tree roots. Journal of Arboriculture, 19, 383–388.

Dalzell, H.W., Biddlestone, A.J., Gray, K.R. and Thurairajan, K. (1987). Soil management: compost production and use in tropical and subtropical environments. FAO Soils Bulletin 56, Rome, Italy.

Dubois, J. and Davio, C. (1960). Deux techniques particulières en matière de pepinière forestière tropicale. Bull. Inform. Inst. nat. Etude agron. Congo, 9, 313–330.

Felker, P., Wiesman, C. and Smith, D. (1988). Comparison of seedling containers on growth and survival of Prosopis alba and Leucaena leucocephala in semi-arid conditions. Forest Ecology and Management, 24, 177–182.

Josiah, S.J. (1988). Containerised seedling production for reforestation in Haiti. Seminario de Fincas Energeticas, Establecimiento y Actualizacion de Costos, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Josiah, S.J. and Jones, N. (1992). Root trainers in seedling production systems for tropical forestry and agroforestry. World Bank, Washington D.C., USA.

Kijkar, S. (1991). Coconut husk as a potting medium. ASEAN-Canada Forest Tree Seed Centre Project Handbook, Muak-Lek, Saraburi 18180, Thailand.

Landis, T.D., Tinus, R.W., McDonald, S.E. and Barnett, J.P. (1990). The container tree nursery manual. Vol. II: containers and growing media. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Handbook 674.

Maurice, J. (1985). Integrated techniques for propagating and conveying compact grafted trees under Third World conditions. Comb. Proc. Internat. Plant Propagators' Society, 34, 177–185.

Miller, J.H. and Jones, N. (1995). Organic and compost based growing media for tree seedling nurseries. World Bank Technical Paper, 264, Washington, D.C., USA.

Muthana, K.D and Harsh, L.N. (1986). Use of super absorbent polymers in arid zone forestry. J. Tropical Forestry, 2, 164–167.

Nwonwu, F.O.C. (1987). An assessment of the suitability of a soil amendment polymer for tree crop growing. Pakistan Journal of Forestry, 37, 191–196.

Ole-Meilude, R.E.L. and Pamba, G.K. (1988). Time study on different techniques for nursery pot filling. Silva Fennica, 22, 171–175.

Reid, R.K. (1989). Seedling growth and development in different container types and soil mixes. Haiti Agroforestry Research Project, South-East Consortium for International Development/Auburn University, USA.

Rojas, F. and Rodriguez, F. (1995). Root trainers: an option for the production of seedlings in forest nurseries (in Spanish). pp 16–19 in Planes simplificados de manejo forestal, eds. Rojas, F. et al., CATIE Revista Forestal Centroamericana 3.

Sharma, R.D. (1987). Some observations on coiling of roots in nursery raised plants. Journal of Tropical Forestry, 3, 207–212.

Venator, C.R. and Munoz, J.E. (1974). Containerised tree production in the tropics. Pp 334–335 in Proc. N. American Containerized Forest Tree Seedling Symp., Denver, Colorado, USA.

Wilson, P.J. (1986). Containers for tree nurseries in developing countries. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 65, 233–240.

(C) Nursery pests and diseases:

Anonymous (1996). Using pesticides: a complete guide to safe, effective spraying. British Crop Protection Council, Bracknell, England.

Brunck, F. (1994). Les ravageurs et maladies de l'Acacia nilotica. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques, 239, 59–65.

Chaplin, G.E. (1987). Insect pests and fungal diseases of trees in the Solomon Islands: recent identifications. Forest Research Note 29-1/87, Ministry of Natural Resources, Solomon Islands.

Chilima, C.Z. (1991). Termite control in young Eucalyptus plantations in Malawi using controlled release insecticides. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 70, 237–247.

NAS (1992). Neem: a tree for solving global problems. BOSTID publ. 71, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, USA.

Gibson, I.A.S. (1975). Diseases of forest trees widely planted as exotics in the tropics and Southern Hemisphere. Part I: Important members of the Myrtaceae, Leguminosae, Verbenaceae and Meliaceae. Commonwealth Mycological Institute, Kew, England.

Gibson, I.A.S. (1979). Diseases of forest trees widely planted as exotics in the tropics and Southern Hemisphere. Part II: The genus Pinus. Commonwealth Mycological Institute, Kew, England.

Schmutterer, H. and Ascher, K.R.S. (Eds) (1987). Natural pesticides from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.) and other tropical plants. Proc. 3rd Internat. Neem Conf., Nairobi, Kenya, July 1986, GTZ, Eschborn, Germany.

Sushilkumar, Sen-Sarma, P.K. and Jha, L.K. (1994). Insect pests management for increased forest productivity in India. Annals of Forestry, 2, 190–206.

Wardell, A. and Wardell, D.A. (1990). The African termite: peaceful coexistence or total war? Agroforestry Today, 2, 4–6.

(D) Other information about tree nurseries and propagation:

Ahujia, M.R. (Ed.) (1994). Micropropagation of woody plants. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands.

Agritex (1990). Agroforestry extension training manual. Agricultural Technical and Extension Services, Causeway, Zimbabwe.

Baggio, A. and Heuveldop, J. (1984). Initial performance of Calliandra calothyrsus Meissn. in live fences for the production of biomass. Agroforestry Systems, 2, 19–29.

Benge, M.D. (1987). More tree planting through school nurseries. USAID Report, Washington, D.C., USA.

Campbell, M.W. (1983). Plant propagation for reforestation in Nepal. Nepal-Australia Forestry Project, Technical Note 1/83, Australian National University, Canberra.

Desmond, D.F. (1989). Forest tree nurseries in Agricultural High Schools: analysis of Ecuadorean experiences. Social Forestry Network Paper 9e, Overseas Development Institute, London, England.

Dick, J.M. and Hamzah, A. (1994). Vegetative propagation of tree species indigenous to Malaysia. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 73, 164–172.

Egli, A. and Kalinganire, A. (1988). Les arbres et arbustes agroforestiers au Rwanda. Institut des Sciences Agronomiques, Butare, Rwanda.

Fatimson, T. (1989). Drylands agroforestry, homestead trees and the nurseries to support them. Social Forestry Network Paper 9b, Overseas Development Institute, London, England.

Fearnside, A. and Drew, I.K. (1977). Fence construction techniques for forestry in Nepal. Nepal-Australia Forestry Project, Technical Note 1/77, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Foster, G.S. and Diner, A.M. (Eds) (1994). Applications of vegetative propagation in forestry. Proc. Symposium on forest genetics, in Alabama, 1992, Southern Forest Experiment Station, General Technical Report, SO-108, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hartmann, H.T. and Kester, D.E. (1983). Plant Propagation: principles and practices, 4th edn, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, USA.

Jagawat, H. (1989). Observations on centralized and decentralized nurseries in an NGO project in Gujerat, North India. In Nurseries in Gujerat, North India: two views. Social Forestry Network Paper 9d, Overseas Development Institute, London, England.

Khan, S.A. (1985). Nursery Practices. Pp 227–256 in Increasing productivity of multipurpose trees, eds Burley, J. and Stewart, J.L., IUFRO, Vienna, Austria.

Mbonye, A. (1988). How to stop the desert: an NGO action guide on desertification control. African NGOs Environment Network, P.O. Box 53844, Nairobi, Kenya.

Monteuuis, O. and others (1995). Propagation clonale de tecks matures par bouturage horticole. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques, 243, 25–39.

Nelson, W.R. (1989). A review of the role of root pruning for containerized forest seedlings. South Africa Forestry Journal 151, 90–92.

Piggott, C.J. (1990). Growing oil palms: an illustrated guide. Incorporated Society of Planters, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Poupard, C., Chauvière, M. and Monteuuis, O. (1994). Acacia mangium cuttings: effects of age, within-shoot position and auxin treatment. Silvae Genetica, 43, 226–231.

Robinson, P. and Thompson, I. (1989). Fodder trees, nurseries and their central role in the hillfarming systems of Nepal. Social Forestry Network Paper 9a, Overseas Development Institute, London, England.

Rojas, R.F. (Ed.) (1987). Primer taller nacional sobre semillas y viveros forestales. Memoria. Taller realizado en San Jose del 25 al 29 de Noviembre de 1985. CATIE, Turrialba, Cartago, Costa Rica.

Shanks, E. and Carter, J. (1994). The organisation of small-scale tree nurseries. Rural Development Study Guide 1, Overseas Development Institute, London, England.

Verma, D.P.S. (1989). People's decentralised nurseries: field-level experience of the Gujerat Forest Department, India; in Nurseries in Gujerat, North India: two views. Social Forestry Network Paper 9d, Overseas Development Institute, London, England.

von Maydell, H.J. (1983). Arbres et arbustes du Sahel. GTZ, Eschborn, Germany.

Westwood, S. (1986). Results of experiments conducted at Hetauda Forest Research Nursery, 1984–85. Publ. 45 of Forest Survey and Research Office, Nepal.

White, K.J. (1988). Forest nursery strategies and practices in the Bhabar Terai of Central Nepal. Sagarnath Forest Development Project, Manual 3, 2nd edn, Ministry of Forests, Kathmandu, Nepal.


  1. See sheet A 62 in Manual 1 for more information on vegetative propagation, and sheet A 63 for some sources of chemicals and materials;
  2. More information on seed collection, storage, dormancy and germination will be given in Manual 2.

C 62

- some information on tree growth

(A) Effects of treatments on tropical tree growth:

Abod, S.A. and Cheong, K.L. (1994). Effects of a growth retardant and shoot pruning on the growth of Acacia mangium seedlings. J. Tropical Forest Science, 6, 239–248.

Awang, K. and de Chavez, C.G. (1993). Effect of root-wrenching and controlled watering on growth, drought resistance and quality of bare-rooted seedlings of Acacia mangium. J. Tropical Forest Science, 5, 309–321.

Baggio, A. and Heuveldop, J. (1982). Initial performance of Calliandra calothyrsus Meissm. in live fences for the production of biomass. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica.

Bowman, D.M.J.S. and Panton, W.J. (1993). Factors that control monsoon-rainforest seedling establishment and growth in North Australian Eucalyptus savanna. Journal of Ecology, 81, 297–304.

Chalot, M., Battut, P.M., Botton, B., Le Tacon, F. and Garbaye, J. (1988). Recent advances in physiological and practical aspects of ectomycorrhizal effects on tree development. Acta écologica écol. Applic. 9, 333–351.

Egli, A. and Kalinganire, A. (1988). Les arbres et arbustes agroforestiers au Rwanda. Institut des Sciences Agronomiques, Butare, Rwanda.

Longman, K.A. (1978). Control of shoot extension and dormancy - external and internal factors. Pp 465–495 in Tropical Trees as Living Systems, eds Tomlinson, P.B. and Zimmermann, M.H., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.

Longman, K.A. & JenÏk, J. (1987). Tropical Forest and its Environment, 2nd Edn, Longman Scientific & Technical, Harlow, England/John Wiley, New York, USA.

Nasi, R. and Monteuuis, O. (1993). Un nouveau programme de recherches au Sabah. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques, 235, 25–34.

Rauch, F.D. (Ed.) (1989). Hawaii nursery research. Hawaii Inst. of Tropical Agric. and Human Resources, Research Extension Series, 103.

Singh, A.K., Meena, S.L., Williams, A.J., Banerjee, S.K. and Gupta, B.N. (1994). Effect of mulches and watering interval on growth of Albizia procera in skeletal soil. Environment and Ecology, 12, 93–98.

Wright, S.J. (1996). Phenological responses to seasonality in tropical forest plants. Pp 440–460 in Tropical forest plant ecophysiology, eds Mulkey, S.S., Chazdon, R.L. and Smith, A.P., Chapman and Hall, New York, USA.

(B) Soils and roots:

Cottenie, A. (1980). Soils and plant testing as a basis of fertizer recommendations. Soils Bulletin, 38 (2), p. 19, FAO, Rome Italy.

FAO (1978). Organic materials and soil productivity, Soils Bulletin, 35, FAO, Rome, Italy.

IITA (1979). Selected methods for soil and plant analysis. Manual Series 1, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Jeník, J. (1978). Roots and root systems in trees: morphologic and ecologic aspects. Pp 332–349 in Tropical Trees as Living Systems, eds Tomlinson, P.B. and Zimmermann, M.H., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.

Lal, R. and Greenland, D.J. (Eds) (1979). Soil physical properties and crop production in the tropics. Wiley, Chichester, England.

Timberlake, J.R. and Calvert, G.M. (1993). Preliminary root atlas for Zimbabwe and Zambia. Drawings by J.A. Morris. Zimbabwe Forestry Commission, Bull. of Forest Research 10.

Young, A. (1986). Effects of trees on soils. Pp 28–41 in Amelioration of soil by trees. Commonwealth Science Council, London, England.

(C) Mycorrhizas:

Adholeya, A. and Khanna, S. (1989). VA mycorrhizae: an important component of tree farming. J. Tropical Forestry, 5, 17–29.

Alexander, I.J. (1989). Mycorrhizas in tropical forests. Pp 169–188 in Mineral nutrients in tropical forest and savanna ecosystems, ed. Proctor, J., Blackwell, Oxford, England.

Alexander, I, Ahmad, N. and See, L.S. (1992). The role of mycorrhizas in the regeneration of some Malaysian forest trees. Phil. Trans. Royal Society of London B, 335, 379–388.

Bulakali, B., Khasa, P.D. and Luyindula, N. (1992). Effets de la double symbiose Rhizobium-Glomus spp. sur la croissance de Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit. en pepinière, et dix mois après transplantation au Zaïre. Tropicultura, 10, 132–136.

Chipompha, N.W.S. (1989). Low-cost Pisolithus mycorrhizal inoculum for small-scale pine nurseries. Pp 319–322 in Trees for development in Sub-Saharan Africa, Proc. Regional Seminar at ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya, published by Internat. Foundation for Science, Stockholm, Sweden.

Feldmann, F. and others (1995). Recultivation of degraded, fallow lying areas in central Amazonia with equilibrated polycultures: response of useful plants to inoculation with VA-mycorrhizal fungi. Proc. Symp. on Tropical Trees, Hamburg, Germany, September 1993, published in Angewandte-Botanik, 69, 113–118.

Janos, D.P. (1983). Tropical mycorrhizas, nutrient cycles and plant growth. Pp 327–345 in Tropical rain forest: ecology and management. Blackwell, Oxford, England.

Janos, D.P. (1985). Mycorrhizal fungi: agents or symptoms of tropical community composition? Pp 98–103 in Proc. 6th N. American Conf. on Mycorrhizae, ed. Molina R., Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA.

Lapeyrie, F. and Högberg, P. (1994). Harnessing symbiotic associations: ectomycorrhizas. Pp 158–164 in Tropical trees: the potential for domestication and the rebuilding of forest resources, eds Leakey, R.R.B. and Newton, A.C., Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Symposium 29/Edinburgh Centre for Tropical Forests, Symp. 1, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Martinez-Amores, E., Valdes, M. and Quintos, M. (1990). Seedling growth and ectomycorrhizal colonization of Pinus patula and P. radiata inoculated with spores of Helvella lacunosa, Russula brevipes or Lycoperdon perlatum. New Forests, 4, 237–245.

Mason, P.A. and Wilson, J. (1994). Harnessing symbiotic associations: vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizas. Pp 165–175 in Tropical trees: the potential for domestication and the rebuilding of forest resources, eds Leakey, R.R.B. and Newton, A.C., Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Symp. 29/Edinburgh Centre for Tropical Forests, Symp. 1, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Michelson, A. (1993). Growth improvement of Ethiopian acacias by addition of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi or roots of native plants to non-sterile nursery soil. Forest Ecology and Management, 59, 193–206.

Sanders, F.E., Mosse, B. and Tinker, R.B. (Eds) (1975). Endomycorrhizas. Proc. Symp. at Leeds, England, July 1974, Academic Press, London, England.

Verma, R.K., Jamaluddin and Gupta, B.N. (1994). Effect of inoculation of VAM fungi and Rhizobium on growth and biomass production in Acacia nilotica in nursery. Indian Forester, 120, 1089–1094.

(D) Nitrogen-fixing tree and shrub species:

Anonymous (undated). Vegetative propagation of Casuarina equisetifolia. Andhra Pradesh Forest Department, Hyderabad, India.

Allen, O.N. and Allen, E.K. (1981). The Leguminosae - a source book of characteristics, uses and nodulation. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Aronson, J., Ovalle, C. and Avendaño, J. (1992). Early growth rate and nitrogen fixation potential in forty-four legume species grown in an acid and a neutral soil from central Chile. Forest Ecology and Management, 47, 225–244.

Blom, P.S. (1981). Leucaena - a promising versatile leguminous tree for the tropics. Internat. Tree Crops J., 1, 221–234.

Bulakali, B., Khasa, P.D. and Luyindula, N. (1992). Effets de la double symbiose Rhizobium-Glomus spp. sur la croissance de Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit. en pepinière, et dix mois après transplantation au Zaïre. Tropicultura, 10, 132–136.

Deans, J.D., Ali, O.M., Lindley, D.K. and Nour, H.D.A. (1993). Rhizobial inoculation of Acacia tree species in Sudan: soil inoculum potential and the effects of peat. J. Tropical Forest Science, 6, 56–64.

Dommergues, Y.R. (1987). The role of biological nitrogen fixation in agroforestry. Pp 245–271 in Agroforestry: a decade of development, eds Steppler, H.A. and Nair, P.K.R., ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya.

Faria, S.M. de, Lewis, G.P., Sprent, J.I. and Sutherland, J.M. (1989). Occurrence of nodulation in the Leguminosae. New Phytologist, 111, 607–619.

Franco, A.A. (1984). Fixacao de nitrogenio em arvores e fertilidade do solo. In Nutrition of Leguminous Trees, eds Franco, A.A. and others, Pesquisa Agropecuaria Brasileira 19 (special issue).

Froidevaux, L. (1985). Nodulation de quelques arbres fixateurs d'azote au Rwanda. Institut des Sciences Agronomiques, Note Technique 2, Rubona, Rwanda.

Giller, K. and Wilson, K. (1993). Nitrogen fixation in tropical cropping systems. Intercept, Andover, England.

Gordon, J.C. and Wheeler, C.T. (Eds) (1983). Biological nitrogen fixation in forest ecosystems: foundations and applications, Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

Lindsay Falvey, J. (1982). Gliricidia maculata - a review. Internat. Tree Crops J., 2, 1–14.

Nair, P.K.R, Fernandes, E.C.M. and Wambugu, P.N. (1984). Multipurpose leguminous trees and shrubs for agroforestry. Agroforestry Systems, 2, 145–163.

NAS (1983a). Mangium and other fast-growing acacias for the humid tropics. BOSTID publ. 41, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., USA.

NAS (1983b) Calliandra: a versatile small tree for the humid tropics. BOSTID publ. 42, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., USA.

NAS (1983c). Casuarinas: nitrogen-fixing trees for adverse sites. BOSTID publ. 43, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., USA.

NAS (1984). Leucaena: Promising forage and tree crop in developing countries. BOSTID publ. 52, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., USA.

Pinyopusarerk, K. and House, A.P.N. (1994). Casuarina: an annotated bibligraphy of C. equisetifolia, C. junghuhniana and C. oligodon, Division of Forestry, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia.

Reddell, P. (1990) Increasing productivity in plantings of Casuarina by inoculation with Frankia. Pp 133–140 in Advances in Casuarina Research and Utilization., eds El-Lakany, M.H., Turnbull, J.W. and Brewbaker, J.L., American University in Cairo, Egypt.

Reddell, P., Rosbrook, P.A. and Ryan, P.A. (1989). Managing nitrogen fixation in Casuarina species to increase productivity. Pp 209–214 in Trees for the tropics: growing Australian multipurpose trees and shrubs in developing countries, ed. Boland, D.J., Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Monograph 10, Canberra, Australia.

Sprent, J.I. (1994). Harnessing symbiotic associations: the potentials for nitrogen-fixing trees. Pp 176–182 in Tropical trees: the potential for domestication and the rebuilding of forest resources, eds Leakey, R.R.B. and Newton, A.C., Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Symp. 29/ Edinburgh Centre for Tropical Forests, Symp. 1, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Verma, R.K., Jamaluddin and Gupta, B.N. (1994). Effect of inoculation of VAM fungi and Rhizobium on growth and biomass production in Acacia nilotica in nursery. Indian Forester, 120, 1089–1094.

Westley, S.B. and Powell, M.H. (1993). Erythrina in the new and old worlds. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association, Reports (special issue).

(E) Genetic improvement and genetic conservation of trees:

Butterfield, R.P. (1995). Promoting biodiversity: advances in evaluating native species for reforestation. Forest Ecology and Management, 75, 111–123.

de Zoysa, N.D. and Ashton, P.M.S. (1991). Germination and survival of Shorea trapezifolia: effects of dewinging, seed maturity, and different light and soil microenvironments. J. Tropical Forest Science, 4, 52–63.

Drysdale, R.M., John, S.E.T. and Yapa, A.C. (Eds) (1994). Proc. internat. Symp. Genetic conservation and production of tropical forest tree seed, Chiang Mai, 1993, ASEAN Tree Seed Centre, Muak Lek, Saraburi 18180, Thailand.

FAO/IPGRI (1994). Genebank standards. FAO and Internat. Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy (also published in French and Spanish).

Guarino, L., Rao, V.R. and Reid, R. (1994). Collecting plant genetic diversity: technical guidelines. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International, Wallingford, Oxford, England.

Hattemer, H.H. and Melchior, G.H. (1993). Genetics and its application to tropical forestry. In Tropical Forestry Handbook, ed. Pancel, L., Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany.

Hughes, C.E. (1994). Risks of species introductions in tropical forestry. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 73, 243–252.

ITTO (1994). Guidelines on the conservation of biological diversity in tropical production forests. ITTO Policy Development Series, 5, International Tropical Timber Organization, Yokohama, Japan.

Jiminez, V. and Picado, W. (1987). Algunas experiencias co Acacia mangium en Costa Rica. Silvoenergia, 22.

Jon-Llap, R., Camacho-Hernandez, Y., Viquiez, E. and Sanchez, G. (1990). Comportiamento juvenil de procedencias y familias de Gliricidia sepium de la region de origen, Chasqui-Turrialba, 22, 7–13.

Leakey, R.R.B. and Newton, A.C. (Eds) (1994). Domestication of tropical trees for timber and non-timber products. MAB Digest, 15, UNESCO, Paris, France.

Park, Y.G. and Sakamoto, S. (Eds) (1994). Proc. internat. Seminar Genetic conservation and utilization of biodiversity, Inst. Agric. Science and Technology, Kyungpook National University and Genetic Resources Center, Taegu 702–701, Korea.

Salazar, R. and Vasquez, M.S. (1988). Variacion genetica en ocho procedencias de Erythrina poeppigiana en Costa Rica. Turrialba, 38, 71–81.

Salazar, R. (1989). Genetic variation of 16 provenances of Acacia mangium at nursery level in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 68, 263–272.

Sollart, K. (1986). The Javanese mixed home garden as a plant genetic resource. Fakultatas Kehetanan Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Wilcox, B.A. (1995). Tropical forest resources and biodiversity: the risk of forest loss and degradation. Unasylva, 46, 43–49.

Willan, R.L. (1984). Provenance seed stands and provenance conservation stands. Technical Note 14, Danida Forest Seed Centre, Humlebæk, Denmark.

(F) Layouts, assessment and statistical analysis of experiments:

Fisher, R.A. and Yates, F. (1974). Statistical tables for biological, agricultural and medical research, 6th edn, Longman Group, Harlow, England.

Heath, D. (1995). An introduction to experimental design and statistics for biology. University College of London Press.

Moroney, M.J. (1956). Facts from figures, Penguin Books, London, England.

Parker, R.E. (1973). Introductory statistics for biology. Studies in Biology, 43, Edward Arnold, London.

Williams, E.R. and Matheson, A.C. (1994). Experimental design and analysis for use in tree improvement. CSIRO Information Services, 314 Albert Street, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002, Australia.

Zar, J.H. (1974). Biostatistical analysis, 3rd Edn, Prentice-Hall International, USA.


  1. See Forest Genetic Resources, published by FAO, Rome, Italy; and sheet D 70 in Manual 4 for more sources on genetic conservation of tropical trees;
  2. See sheet D 71 for more sources on agroforestry, mycorrhizas, nitrogen-fixing species, and organisations providing information;
  3. See sheet D 72 for more sources on formal and informal experiments.

C 63

- estimating quantities


Unless your tree nursery is very small, setting it up and running it are likely to involve estimating:

  1. how many young trees will be needed (Manual 5);
  2. the nursery space needed for the different types of growing environments;
  3. how big the nursery should be; and
  4. the amounts of various items that will be needed.

If you under-estimate, the work is likely to be held up, and insufficient numbers of young trees produced;
If you over-estimate, time and materials may be wasted, and too many plants produced.

This sheet gives some hints for making reasonably accurate predictions of what is likely to be needed.

(A) Estimating the number of trees to be grown:

  1. List the different kinds of trees and shrubs that are of interest.
  2. Estimate how many plants of each are likely to be needed, and when they are to be planted.
  3. Then increase the numbers to allow for losses, because:
    1. the percentage of seeds germinating and cuttings rooting will be less than 100%;
    2. some young trees may die during propagation, or be culled as unsuitable for planting; and perhaps
    3. it may be necessary to replace some planted trees that fail to establish.
  4. Work out the approximate totals to be grown in the nursery.

(B) Calculating the space needed:

(1) For seed beds, a rough estimate can be made by assuming that:

  1. larger seeds should be sown at around twice their diameter apart; and
  2. smaller seeds should be spaced on average no closer than 5 mm to each other.

Then each square metre should produce approximately the following number of seedlings if they are well looked after (Manual 2); and the space needed for 1000 plants would be:

Seed diameterNumber of plants per m2 of bedAmount of space (in m2) needed for 1000 plants assuming a germination percentage of
(mm) 75 %50 %25 %
  5  4,2000.320.480.95
  8  1,7000.781.2  2.4  
10  1,1751.1  1.7  3.4  
15     6002.2  3.3  6.7  

Seed trays have the advantage of being movable, but need around 25% more space.

When larger seeds are sown directly into a pot, the space may be calculated as in (B 3).

(2) For cuttings (Manual 1), assume that:

  1. leafy cuttings will need to be spaced in the polypropagator so that the leaves are not touching each other; and
  2. leafless cuttings (if rooted in the nursery) should be placed in the propagation bed with spaces between them that are at least twice the diameter of the stems. Then:
Spacing of cuttings (cm × cm)Number of cuttings per m2Amount of space needed for 1000 cuttings (m2)
2 × 22500    0.40
3 × 31090    0.92
4 × 4  625  1.6
5 × 5  400  2.5
7.5 × 7.5  170  5.9
10 × 10  10010.0
12.5 × 12.5   6415.6
15 × 15   4422.7

(3) For standing ground for young trees in pots:

Widest diameter of pot when filled (cm)Number of pots across an 80 cm wide standing areaRunning length of bed to hold 100 pots (m)
  516  0.65
10  81.3
15  53.0
20  45.0

More space may be needed to allow enough room for trees with bushy shoots (C 42), or if the nursery has to be put on a steep slope (C 20).

(4) For transplanting into beds instead of using containers, the table in (B 2) can be used to estimate the space needed. Choose:

  1. wider spacings for trees that are to be planted as soil blocks (to leave enough room for the roots to be pruned), and for striplings and bare-rooted planting stock; but
  2. narrower spacings for stumps (since both roots and shoots will be heavily pruned).

(C) Considering the total area needed for the tree nursery:

Add together the estimates for each of the growing areas. Multiply by a safety factor of 1.25. Then assume that you will need as much space again for paths, roads, buildings and so on, so double the figure to give a rough idea of the total size of the nursery.

For example, if you needed:

  1. 25 m2 for seedbeds, 5 m2 for seed trays, and 50 m2 for large seeds sown into pots;
  2. 20 m2 for polypropagators, and 15 m2 for propagating leafless cuttings;
  3. 900 m2 for standing ground for pots, and 335 m2 for transplant beds;
    then this gives a total of 1350 m2. Twenty-five percent of that is 338 m2, making a total of nearly 1700 m2 for all the growing areas. The whole nursery might then occupy about 3375 m2 (0.34 ha), not including room to expand. On the other hand, less space will be needed if different species can occupy the same growing areas at different times of year.

(D) Estimating how much potting mix will be needed:

  1. In each container: the volume of soil that different containers hold can be estimated in two ways:
    1. by closing the holes in the bottom of a pot of each size (C 6), and filling them up with water to the proper level for the top of the soil (C 42). Pour the water from each pot into a measuring cylinder to find out how many millilitres (ml) of water each contains. This is a rough estimate of the number of cubic centimetres (cm3) of firmed down soil they will hold; or
    2. by measuring the diameter and the height up to the soil level, and then calculating the volume:

      For roughly cylindrical pots: divide the diameter by two to get the radius. The soil volume equals the radius squared, multiplied by 3.14, and multiplied by the height. Volume = πr2h.

      Example (a): if the diameter is 6 cm and the height 7 cm, then the soil volume is about 250 cm3. (Smaller than this, pots are only suitable for very small trees.)

      Example (b): if the diameter is 14 cm and the height 16.5 cm, the soil volume will be about 2500 cm3. (Larger than this, cylindrical pots are very heavy to use.)

      For tapered pots: divide the diameters at the top (soil level) and bottom by two to get the top radius and the bottom radius. Then the soil volume equals the top radius squared, plus the top radius multiplied by the bottom radius, plus the bottom radius squared; then multiplied by 3.14, then multiplied by the height and divided by 3.

      Volume = πh/3(r12 + r1r2 + r22).

      Example (c): if the two diameters are 13 cm and 10 cm, and the height 11 cm, then the soil volume is about 1150 cm3.

  1. To pot up 100 young trees: In (D 1) above, the volume of potting soil required will be about 0.025 m3 for Example (a); 0.25 m3 for Example (b); and 0.115 m3 for Example (c).
  2. To pot up 10,000 trees a year: then the amount of the components needed for potting mix B1 in sheet C 6 for the 14 × 16.5 cm pots in example (b) above would be about 5 m3 of coarse sand, 10 m3 of loamy topsoil, 7.5 m3 of weathered sawdust and 2.5 m3 of compost each year.

(E) What other points need to be taken into account:

  1. You will also need reliable sources of good seeds (C 5 and Manual 2) and enough stockplants to supply the shoots to make into cuttings (Manual 1).
  2. You might consider the potential for sale of unwanted planting stock.

See sheet C 61 for further information about nurseries.


C 64

- record sheet for seeds, cuttings and plants collected or received

Identity numberSpeciesType of materialQuantityDate collectedDate receivedOriginNotes
98/1Leucaena leucocephalaSeeds250g12/974/1/98Ibadan, Nigeriascarify (hard seeds)
98/2Triplochiton scleroxylonCuttings1205/1/986/1/98Mbalmayo, Cameroun20 × 6 clones
98/3Lovoa trichilioidesPlants85(1997 fruiting)9/1/98local forestwildings


C 65

- record sheet for batches of plants grown



Date of collection -    /     /Collected by -
Country -Provenance/Land race -
Exact locality -Approximate altitude -


Date -     /     /Approximate amount sown -Where propagated -
Seed beds or seed trays? Germination medium - 
Germination: very good/good/moderate/poor/nil, after     weeks (    % germinated)
Approximate number potted/transplanted -       after     weeks (    % survived)


Date -    /     /Approximate numbers of each clone -
Location of stockplants -Height at which cuttings taken -
Approximate length of cuttings -  cm.+/- Auxin?
Where propagated -Rooting medium -
Number rooted -on     /    /(   % rooted)
Number potted -on     /    /(   % potted)


For planting out -    at site -
For potted plant experiments -For other research use -
For stockplants -    To grow larger -
Other purposes - 


C 66

- record sheet for checks made during nursery propagation


Appearance of young trees:       
Wilting seen?       
Soil too wet?       
Leaves discoloured?       
Several leaves falling?       
Insect damage?       
Other animal damage?       
Growing conditions:       
Water supply in order?       
Shading intact?       
Weeding needed?       
Breaks in hedges or fences?       
Animal droppings?       
Is each batch of young trees surviving and thriving?
Are any plants damaged, dead or missing?
Is it time to reduce any of the shading?
Are some batches ready for potting/transplanting?
Are weeds, insects and disease being kept in check?
What problems were found during the week?
Were they successfully dealt with?

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