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A dominant coniferous tree in drier high altitude forests, it prefers sites between the altitudes of 1200 and 3200 m. Young trees are often found at the forest edge. It is common in West Usambaras, on the Livingstone Mountains in northern Tanzania, on the northern slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro and on isolated mountains of Masailand (RSCU 1992).

Status: Outlying populations are endangered. In Zimbabwe only 1 tree is known in the wild (Palgrave 1988).

Minimum Altitude (m):


Maximum Altitude (m):


Minimum Rainfall (mm):


Maximum Rainfall (mm):


Minimum Temperature (C):



Soil Requirements: Seems to prefer well-drained soils no heavier than sandy clay.

Light Requirements: Demanding.

Influential Factors: Resistant to fungal decay and termites. Older trees are susceptible to heart rot fungus, Fomes juniperius (Dale and Greenway 1961).


Means of Propagation: Seed and wildlings.

Seeds per kg:


Germination Rate (%):


Seed Sources:

2000 TSH per kg - Tanzania National Seed Centre 1991.

Seed Treatments: Small cones are berry or drupe-like when ripe, and waxy blue-green. They are the size of a small pea, each containing 2 to 3 seeds (Dale and Greenway 1961). Collect and dry ripened fruits in the sun and extract seeds in a mortar.

Pretreatment of seeds is not necessary. They can be sown directly in seed beds or containers. Seed viability is not a problem if seed is less than a year old and has been kept in a cool dry place (Teel 1984).

Seedling Management: Seed is readily available but has short viability, 6 to 12 months. Due to the hard seed coat, hot water or acid pretreatment is recommended.

Immerse in hot water at 100 degrees C for 1 minute or soak in acid for 10 minutes. Use of hot water is recommended in areas where sulphuric acid is not easily available. Increases in germination rates from 68 to 78% have been measured 14 days after sowing with treatment (Laurent and Chamshana 1987).


Planting Types: Can be grown in plantations. However slow growth in Shume (Lushoto) has discouraged planting (RSCU 1992). It should not be grown on cropland as leaf fall is too acidic (Teel 1984). It is preferable to grow around shambas.

Growth Factors: Fairly fast growing in open stands, but slow elsewhere.

Growth Cycle: Seeds are available in January through April, probably every year (Borota 1975).

Limitations to Planting: Wildfires, browsing pressure, and demand for fast growing exotics are constraints to promoting this species on a larger scale.

Management Systems: Seedlings take 1 to 2 years in the nursery. Close initial spacing of 2×2 m is recommended to limit low crown development. In Tanzania early prunings take place at years 2.5 and 6. The first thinning is in year 5, where 50% is removed.

Weedings have to be carried out at least once a year during the establishment phase. Prune and thin trees for timber and poles.


The wood is of medium hardness, is very resistant to termites, and durable against rotting. It is apt to split when nailed (Dale and Greenway 1961). Main uses include house construction, fence posts, shingles, transmission and other poles, flooring, and wooden structures exposed to the weather where durability is required, for example beehives, and pencils.

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