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VITEX DONIANA*

DISTRIBUTION

A widespread deciduous forest tree largely found in coastal woodlands and savannah but also in wetter areas at lower altitudes and on Zanzibar and Pemba islands. It is found in deciduous woodlands (especially Brachystegia), secondary forests, and dry forests. It is not found in montane rainforests and the Dodoma thicket belt (FAO 1983).

Minimum Altitude (m):

0

Maximum Altitude (m):

1800

Minimum Rainfall (mm):

700

Maximum Rainfall (mm):

2000

Minimum Temperature (C):

10

Maximum Temperature (C):

30

REQUIREMENTS

Soil Requirements: Found on fields, fallows, and on alluvial soils (don Maydell 1986).

Influential Factors: Requires a high water table.

PROPAGATION

Means of Propagation: Propagation methods include wildlings, seed, coppice, and root suckers.

Seeds per kg:

1000

Seed Treatments: Fruit is oblong, about 3 cm long, turning black when mature. Remove seeds from fleshy pulp and soak them overnight in lukewarm water. The hard seed coat needs to be broken. Dry the seeds before planting in pots (3 seeds per pot). Outplant in an area with good access to water.

Seedling Management: Trees regenerate naturally by seed and root suckers. Seeds need a very long time to germinate (don Maydell 1986). Germination is most successful with fresh seeds. Forest fires may help break the seed coat before germination (RSCU 1992).

SILVICULTURE

Planting Types: Grown in fields and along boundaries. It is occasionally planted around home compounds (don Maydell 1986).

Growth Factors: Has a moderate growth rate.

Growth Cycle: Flowers from August through November, and fruits from January to April (FAO 1983).

Management Systems: Natural regeneration occurs by seeds, coppice, and root suckers.

IMPORTANT USES

Use #1: FRUIT
The edible fruit is sweet, tastes like prunes, and is occasionally sold.

Use #2: MEDICINE
There are numerous medicinal uses for this tree. V. doniana is used to treat anemia and the root is used for gonorrhoea (FAO 1983). It is also supposed to improve fertility and is used to treat jaundice, leprosy, and dysentery (don Maydell 1986).

Use #3: LAND IMPROVEMENT
V. doniana is nitrogen fixing and its leaves are used for mulch.

OTHER USES: The tree produces a teak-like termite resistant timber (RSCU 1992). Von Maydell (1986) reports that the wood is intensely attacked by insects. It is medium hard and suitable for light building material, furniture, carvings, and boats. It is also used for firewood and charcoal. The leaves, pods, and seeds are good fodder.


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