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BRACHYSTEGIA SPICIFORMIS*

DISTRIBUTION

A dominant and ecologically important tree occurring in open deciduous woodlands (Palgrave 1988). In Tanzania its range includes large areas of deciduous Miombo forest. It is widespread and abundant in all woodland areas of Tanga, the eastern and southern highlands, and near the lakes in the west (RSCU 1992). B. spiciformis prefers hot climates.

Minimum Altitude (m):

0

Maximum Altitude (m):

1200

Minimum Rainfall (mm):

500

Maximum Rainfall (mm):

1200

REQUIREMENTS

Soil Requirements: Prefers sandy soil but is found on a variety of soil types.

Light Requirements: Prefers open areas.

Influential Factors: Sensitive to frost.

PROPAGATION

Means of Propagation: Can be propagated from seed and seedlings.

Seeds per kg:

2200

Seed Treatments: Fruits are yellow or reddish-brown woody pods up to 13 cm in length, which explode with a sharp crack, scattering the seed widely (Palmer and Pitman 1972). Seeds germinate easily without pretreatment.

Seedling Management: Seeds possess no dormancy and regenerate completely after starting. However, the seedlings are difficult to transplant.

SILVICULTURE

Planting Types: B. spiciformis is increasingly being cultivated and is recommended for agroforestry use in the Miombo areas of Tanzania.

Growth Factors: Slow growing.

Growth Cycle: The young leaves are very colourful in the spring. The tree bears flowers from August to November (Palgrave 1988).

Management Systems: B. spiciformis hybridizes easily with B. glaucescens and B. microphylla (Palgrave 1988).

IMPORTANT USES

Use #1: FUELWOOD
B. spiciformis is widely used for fuel, both as charcoal and firewood. The tree is often heavily branched and in parts of southern Tanzania the hard wood is highly sought for these uses.

Use #2: MEDICINE
In southern Tanzania B. spiciformis has several medicinal applications including using the roots to treat dysentery and stomach problems.

Use #3: LAND IMPROVEMENT
It is an important shade tree. The leaves are known to be a good fodder and would likely provide good mulch. The species is nitrogen fixing.

OTHER USES: The wood is pale brown, hard, heavy, but not very durable. It is used for beehives, boats, and general construction. It is considered to be a rather inferior general purpose timber.

B. spiciformis is considered to be a good bee plant due to its sweet smelling flowers. The inner bark is used for local ropes.


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