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OCOTEA USAMBARENSIS*

DISTRIBUTION

An evergreen timber tree widely distributed and common in the wetter mountain forests of Tanzania: Southern Highlands, Kilimanjaro, Usambaras, Pares, Ulugurus, Tukuyu, and Iringa (Watkins 1960).

Status: It is a reserved tree in Tanzania.

Minimum Altitude (m):

1000

Maximum Altitude (m):

2800

Minimum Rainfall (mm):

1000

Maximum Rainfall (mm):

1800

REQUIREMENTS

Soil Requirements: Prefers deep, fertile soils with good drainage (Watkins 1960).

Influential Factors: Normally immune to termites. Considerable seed is lost to gall disease. It is susceptible to Armillarea mellea fungus (Watkins 1960).

PROPAGATION

Means of Propagation: Root suckers, seed, and transplants.

Seeds per kg:

6600

Germination Rate (%):

50

Germination Length:

60-90 days

Seed Sources:

2000 TSH per kg - Tanzania National Seed Centre 1991.

Seed Treatments: The fruit is a small drupe about 1×0.5 cm in size. Collect fruits from the tree or ground. Remove outer pulp immediately by soaking in water. Pretreatment is not necessary. Seed is easily propagated, but seed viability is unknown therefore using fresh seed is advisable (Teel 1984). Seed can be stored for up to 3 months (RSCU 1992).

Seedling Management: Produces plenty of seed in commercial quantities, but good seed years ('mast') occur every 3 to 4 years. It is easily raised using 9 month old transplants or retransplanted root suckers. Regeneration by suckering and coppicing is very good (Watkins 1960). The tree can be raised by lifting natural root suckers which are produced in profusion around and near the stumps of felled trees. This practice is to be encouraged since camphor seeds are scarce except during the 'mast' year (RSCU 1992).

SILVICULTURE

Planting Types: O. usambarensis is a promising plantation species in Kilimanjaro. Natural camphor forests in the Usambaras and Kilimanjaro are intensively managed (RSCU 1992). The tree has a large, spreading crown, so should not be intercropped with light-requiring crops. It does not otherwise interfere with crops (Teel 1984).

Growth Factors: Fast growing. Young trees grow at 2 m per year (Dale and Greenway 1961).

Growth Cycle: Rotation length is between 60 and 75 years.

Management Systems: Produces suckers after felling, which may be controlled by cutting the roots some distance from the stump.

IMPORTANT USES

Use #1: TIMBER
The tree yields one of the most valuable timbers of East Africa. It is resistant to fungal decay, wood borers, and moderately resistant to termites (Watkins 1960). O. usambarensis is moderately hard, heavy, and of medium strength and density. The timber is important for home construction, furniture, panelling, veneer, plywood, and heavy constructional work.

Use #2: MEDICINE
The roots and inner bark are used in local medicine. The root bark is used to treat malaria.

Use #3: LAND IMPROVEMENT
It is a suitable species for certain types of agroforestry practices including planting along contour strips, farm boundaries, roadsides, and in small woodlots for soil improvement (IFS 1989).


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