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MELIACEAE

Field Guide to the Moist Forest Trees of Tanzania

Jon C. Lovett, Chris K. Ruffo, Roy E. Gereau & James R.D. Taplin
Illustrations by Line Sørensen & Jilly Lovett

MELIACEAE

Carapa grandiflora Sprague
Syn. FTEA: C. procera DC.
Syn. TTCL: NC
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mlangale (T), Mutongana (Toro).
Bole: Branched/fluted. Medium. To 25 m.
Bark: NR.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Even-pinnate. Alternate. Crowded at ends of branchlets. 6 – 18 Leaflets. Lflt: Opposite.
Petiole: Leaves up to 1.5 m long.
Lamina: Medium/large. 40 × 16 cm. Oblong-elliptic. Cuneate. Asymmetric. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Apex of leaflet with short glandular acumen.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Pyramidal panicle.
Fruit: Subglobose capsule. 12 – 15 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Riverine, groundwater, lowland and submontane forest.
Distr: LT, LV. Nigeria to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi.
Notes: Leaves bright red when young. African species of Carapa are undergoing taxonomic revision by D. Kenfack, and precise ranges are difficult to ascertain.
Uses: The wood is used for timber, firewood and charcoal. Seeds produce edible oil. The tree is used for amenity and shade.
Ekebergia capensis Sparrm.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: E. buchananii Harms, E. holtzii Harms, E. meyeri Presl, E. rueppelliana (Fresen.) A. Rich.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mng’ongo (F), Monko (S), Mnyamati (H), Mtarima (R), Mtutu (C), Musimbi (Ha), Ol mukuna (M).
Bole: Straight. Buttressed/fluted. Small/large. To 30 m.
Bark: Pale grey. Smooth.
Slash: Brown/red with pale stripes, paler toward wood.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate, 7 – 15 leaflets. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite.
Petiole: Petiole and rachis 35 cm long, round/winged. Leaflets subsessile.
Lamina: Small/medium. 14.5 × 6 cm. Elliptic/lanceolate. Cuneate. Asymmetrical. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/pubescent. Simple.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/pink. Fragrant. Infloresence many flowered axillary cymose panicles. Dioecious.
Fruit: Dark red drupe. 1.5 × 1.5 cm.
Ecology: Dry montane forest.
Distr: EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Tropical and Southern Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used for timber, firewood, poles and tool handles. Leaves are used for fodder. The bark is used for dysentery and as an emetic. Roots are used for treating chronic coughs. Leaves are also used for intestinal worms. The tree is used for shade, amenity, wind breaks and soil conservation.
Entandrophragma delevoyi De Wild.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: E. lucens Hoyle
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mwovu (F).
Bole: Slightly buttressed. Large. To 35 m.
Bark: Grey-brown. Flaking in large irregular pieces.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Even-pinnate/odd-pinnate. 6 – 10 leaflets. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite/Alternate.
Petiole: Leaves up to 25 cm long. Petiolules: 1 – 2 (- 3.5) cm.
Lamina: Medium. 9.5 × 4 cm. Oblong/oblong-lanceolate. Cuneate. Asymmetric. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Panicle. Dioecious.
Fruit: Capsule cylindric. 12 – 20 × 2 – 4 cm. Seeds winged.
Ecology: Riverine, dry submontane forest.
Distr: LT. South Central Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used for timber, firewood and charcoal. The tree is used for shade and avenue planting.
Entandrophragma excelsum (Dawe & Sprague) Sprague
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: E. deiningeri Harms, E. stolzii Harms
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mbokoboko (S), Mwovu (F).
Bole: Straight. Buttressed. Large. To 55 m.
Bark: Grey with pale scaling patches.
Slash: Red with white streaks. Soft. Thick.
Leaf: Even-pinnate, 5 – 6 pairs of leaflets. Up to 60 cm long. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite/alternate.
Petiole: 0.5 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 18 × 8 cm. Oblong/elliptic. Cuneate. Asymmetrical. Obtuse/emarginate/rounded/apiculate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Large panicles. Dioecious.
Fruit: Cylindric capsule. 12 – 20 × 3 – 4 cm. Seeds winged.
Ecology: Montane forest.
Distr: EA, N, LN, LT. Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Malawi.
Notes: Curiously absent from the Udzungwa mountains where it is apparently replaced by Khaya anthotheca in montane forest.
Uses: The wood is hard, heavy and used for timber, firewood and charcoal. The tree is used for shade in coffee farms.
Khaya anthotheca (Welw.) C.DC.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Khaya nyasica Stapf ex Baker f.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mjofu (T), Mkangazi (Sw), Mtembo (F), Mtondoo (B), Myofu (Ha).
Bole: Straight. Buttressed. Large. To 60 m.
Bark: Grey/brown. Smooth/pitted/scaling. Vertical lines of lenticel pits.
Slash: Red with white streaks/pink.
Leaf: Even-pinnate. 3 – 7 pairs of leaflets. 30 (- 40) cm long. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite.
Petiole: Petiole 13 cm round. Petiolules: 0.5 – 1.5 cm channeled.
Lamina: Medium/small. 17 × 7 cm. Oblong/elliptic. Cuneate. Asymmetrical. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White, sweetly scented. Axillary panicle. Monoecious.
Fruit: Woody round capsule. Seeds winged.
Ecology: Riverine, groundwater, lowland, submontane and montane forest.
Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Tropical Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood makes fine timber. It is also used for firewood, charcoal, shade and avenues.
Lepidiotrichilia volkensii (Gürke) J. -F. Leroy
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Trichilia volkensii Gürke
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mbangwe (S), Mpeka (C).
Bole: Branched. Fluted. Small/medium. To 20 m.
Bark: Grey. Smooth.
Slash: Pink to red, sometimes with white lines. Scented.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate, 7 – 11 leaflets. 30 cm long. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite/alternate.
Petiole: Petiole 7 cm. round. Petiolules: 1 cm channeled.
Lamina: Small/medium. To 16.5 × 7.5 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Asymmetric. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/pubescent beneath especially on veins. Stellate.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Minute red and black glands beneath leaflets.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/yellow. Fragrant. Cymose axillary panicles. Hermaphrodite.
Fruit: Globose berry. 1.5 × 1 cm.
Ecology: Montane forest.
Distr: EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Central and Eastern Africa.
Notes: Stellate indumentum.
Uses: The wood is white, hard and fine-textured. It is used for timber, firewood, charcoal, spoons, tool handles, shade and amenity.
Lovoa swynnertonii Baker f.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NC.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Msau (C).
Bole: Straight. Fluted/buttressed. Large. To 50 m.
Bark: Grey/brown with brown/red patches.
Slash: Red.
Leaf: Even-pinnate. 3 – 8 pairs of leaflets. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite/alternate.
Petiole: Leaves up to 30 cm. Petiole flattened.
Lamina: Medium. 5 – 10 × 2 – 4 cm. Oblong/elliptic. Cuneate. Asymmetrical. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Panicles.
Fruit: Woody capsule, brownish black, with scattered minute white lenticels. 5.5 × 2 cm. Seeds winged.
Ecology: Groundwater, riverine forest.
Distr: C, EA, N. Central and Southern Tropical Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is pale brown, moderately hard and heavy. The timber is used for furniture, joinery work, boat-frames and canoes. It has also proved suitable for plywood.
Lovoa trichilioides Harms
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: L. brownii Sprague, L. swynnertonnii in part.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Nkoba (Luganda).
Bole: Straight/buttressed. Large. To 40 m.
Bark: NR.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Even-pinnate. 10 – 14 leaflets. Alternate.
Petiole: Flattened, slightly winged.
Lamina: Medium. 16 × 4 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Axillary/terminal panicle.
Fruit: Capsule 6 × 1.3 cm. Seeds winged.
Ecology: Groundwater forests.
Distr: LV. West and Central Tropical Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: This species is a very important timber species. The wood is reddish, hard, is worked easily and is mostly used for furniture. It can also be used for low grade plywood. The tree is good for shade and avenue.
Pseudobersama mossambicensis (Sim) Verdc.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Bersama mossambicensis Sim (under Melianthaceae)
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Msiwa (S).
Bole: Small/medium. To 20 m.
Bark: Grey.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate. 9 – 17 leaflets. Alternate. Lflt: Alternate/opposite.
Petiole: With rachis: to 30 cm, minutely puberulous.
Lamina: Medium. 3 – 9 × 1 – 4 cm. Elliptic/oblong. Cuneate. Asymmetric. Acuminate. Entire. Pubescent/glabrous when older.
Domatia: Hairs.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Axillary cymes.
Fruit: Red round spiky woody capsule. 3 – 4.5 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Lowland forest.
Distr: C. Eastern and Southern Africa.
Notes: A monotypic genus, but Pseudobersama may in fact be a Trichilia.
Uses: White, light and durable wood. It is used for general purpose timber, firewood and charcoal. The tree provides good shade.
Trichilia dregeana Sond.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: T. chirindensis Swynnerton & Baker f., T. schliebenii Harms, T. stuhlmannii Harms
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Kamoko (T), Mgolimazi (S), Mkungwina, Mtimaji (Sw).
Bole: Straight. Buttressed. Large. To 40 m.
Bark: Grey/dark brown. Smooth.
Slash: Red/brown/white with cream flecks discolouring darker. Soft. Sparing off-white, milky exudate.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate, 7 – 11 leaflets. 26 cm long. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite/alternate.
Petiole: 8 cm. Round. Petiolules channeled.
Lamina: Medium. To 21 × 8.5 cm. Oblong/elliptic. Cuneate. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/occasionally hairy along margin and midrib. Simple.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Cymose panicles. Dioecious.
Fruit: Round capsule. Black seeds with a bright red aril.
Ecology: Riverine, groundwater, submontane and montane forest.
Distr: EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Tropical and Southern Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is pink, moderately heavy and easy to work. It is used for furniture, domestic utensils, canoes, firewood and charcoal. The tree is evergreen and used for shade and amenity.
Trichilia emetica Vahl.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: T. grotei Harms
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Kamoko (T), Mchengo (C), Mgolimazi (S), Mkungwina, Mtimaji (Sw).
Bole: Branched. Small/medium. To 20 m.
Bark: Red-brown. Smooth.
Slash: White.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate. 4 – 5 pairs leaflets. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite to subopposite.
Petiole: with rachis: To 28 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 12 – 15 × 5 cm. Elliptic/oblong. Cuneate/rounded. Rounded/retuse. Entire. Glabrous above/hairy below.
Domatia: Present/absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Cream-green, fragrant. Axillary cymose condensed panicle.
Fruit: Creamy-brown/red round capsule. 1.8 – 2.5 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Riverine, dry lowland forest. Woodland.
Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Widespread in Africa.
Notes: Leaves more tapered at apex than T. dregeana.
Uses: Pinkish-brown to brownish-grey wood which is straight-grained and easy to plane. It is well known for furniture, household utensils, water pots, beehives and canoes. The bark is used as medicine for pneumonia and as an emetic or enema. Roots are used as medicine for colds and for hastening labour in pregnant women. However, both bark and roots are poisonous so only small quantities should be taken. The seeds produce edible fat and when pounded the oil is used as medicine for broken limbs and for making soap. The tree provides pleasant shade and avenue.
Trichilia lovettii Cheek
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Small. To 10 m.
Bark: NR.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate. 7 – 11 leaflets. Alternate. Lflt: Opposite/alternate.
Petiole: Leaves up to 18 cm long.
Lamina: Small. 11.5 × 3.5 cm. Lanceolate. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/slightly hairy beneath.
Domatia: Hairs.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Axillary/below current years shoot. Lax cyme.
Fruit: Capsule. 1.2 × 1.8 cm.
Ecology: Montane forest.
Distr: EA only (Udz).
Notes: Closely related to T. capitata Klotzsch from South-eastern Africa.
Uses: This species is suitable for firewood, tool handles, spoons and shade.
Trichilia prieuriana A. Juss.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Kamoko (T), Mtimaji (Sw).
Bole: Fluted. Medium. To 25 m.
Bark: Rough/ peeling.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate. (5 -) 7 – 9 (- 11) leaflets. Alternate.
Petiole: Leaves up to 25 cm.
Lamina: Small/medium. Up to 18 × 6.5 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Panicle. Axillary/in axils of fallen leaves.
Fruit: Capsule globose. 2 × 2 cm.
Ecology: Riverine, lowland forest.
Distr: LN, LT. West and Central Africa.
Notes: Bole deeply fluted. Leaflets rarely more than 7. Venation indistinct.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, charcoal tool handles and spoons. The timber splits easily and has little value. The tree is suitable for shade and ornamental purposes.
Trichilia rubescens Oliv.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mtimaji (Sw).
Bole: Fluted. Small/medium. To 18 m.
Bark: Grey-brown. Smooth/flaking in thin strips.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Odd-pinnate. 9 – 17 leaflets. Alternate.
Petiole: Leaves up to 30 cm long.
Lamina: Small/medium. Up to 20 × 8 cm. Oblong-lanceolate/elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/slightly hairy below.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Panicle.
Fruit: Capsule. Wrinkled. 2 – 3 (- 4) lobed. Ca. 2 cm in length and width.
Ecology: Groundwater, lowland forest.
Distr: LV. West and Central Africa.
Notes: Bole not fluted. Petioles with knife-like edges at base. Caspsule wrinkled.
Uses: Used for charcoal, poles, tool handles, spoons and firewood. It is also suitable for avenue and shade.
Turraea abyssinica Hochst. ex A. Rich.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: T. kilimandscharica Gürke
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Chamyangashi (M).
Bole: Branched/scandent. Small/medium. To 18 m.
Bark: NR.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: Up to 1 cm.
Lamina: Small/medium. Up to 12 × 5 cm. Lanceolate/elliptic. Cuneate. Asymmetric. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous except for domatia.
Domatia: Hairs.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Green-white/cream. Terminal or lateral cyme.
Fruit: Capsule globose. 0.7 – 0.8 cm.
Ecology: Montane forest.
Distr: N. Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used for tool handles, poles, firewood and spoons. The WaMasai use the roots for medicine. The tree is suitable for ornamental planting.
Turraea floribunda Hochst.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: T. kaessneri Baker f.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Msonganya (S), Mlangilangi-mwitu, Mtamagoa (Sw).
Bole: Branched/scandent. Small. To 10 m.
Bark: NR.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: To 2 cm.
Lamina: Medium/small. 15 × 8 cm. Ovate/lanceolate. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire. Pubescent.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Green/white. Fragrant. False raceme.
Fruit: Dark brown/black. Capsule. Cylindric/globose. Ribbed. 2.5 × 1.5 cm.
Ecology: Riverine and lowland forest.
Distr: C, EA, LN. Eastern and Southern Africa.
Notes: Deciduous. Staminal tube not bearded at throat.
Uses: The wood is pale white and moderately hard. It is used for making domestic utensils and implements, firewood and charcoal. The tree is of ornamental value. The bark and roots are used as a purgative and an emetic. Roots and leaves are also used for rheumatism and heart problems.
Turraea holstii Gürke
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NC.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mlelawana (S).
Bole: Branched. Small. To 18 m.
Bark: Brown, smooth.
Slash: White-cream with green layer under bark. Wood white.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: To 0.9 cm. Channeled.
Lamina: Small. 4 – 10 × 2 – 5 cm. Lanceolate/elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/hairy. Simple.
Domatia: Tufts of hairs.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White turning yellow. Axillary cymes. Hermaphrodite.
Fruit: Capsule. Globose 0.7 – 1 cm. Reddish black seeds with a red aril.
Ecology: Lowland, submontane and montane forests.
Distr: C, EA, N, LN. Eastern Africa, Arabian Peninsula.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is hard, straight-grained and white. It is used for firewood, poles, tool handles and shade. The flowers are very fragrant making it suitable for ornamental planting and for bee forage.
Turraea robusta Gürke
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: T. goetzei Harms
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mlidandege (C), Mnyandege (S).
Bole: Branched. Small. To 15 m.
Bark: Grey/pale brown/white. Smooth.
Slash: Pink, sometimes with white lines. Foul smelling.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: To 1.8 cm. Round/channeled.
Lamina: Medium. 5 – 11 × 3 – 7 cm. Oblong/elliptic/ovate. Cuneate. Acute/apiculate. Entire. Glabrous above. Hairy beneath on veins. Simple.
Domatia: Present. Hairy tufts.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/yellow. Axillary cyme. Hermaphrodite.
Fruit: Green capsule.
Ecology: Riverine, lowland, submontane and montane forest. Woodland.
Distr: C, EA, N, LN. Eastern and Central Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: This species is used for firewood, tool handles, spoons, shade and amenity. Leaves are used as antidote for general poisoning. Roots are used for treating diarrhoea and stomach problems.
Last Updated: 18 June 2017