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Useful Tropical Plants

Brachystegia spiciformis

Benth.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Brachystegia appendiculata Benth.

Brachystegia bragaei Harms

Brachystegia edulis Hutch. & Burtt Davy

Brachystegia euryphylla Harms

Brachystegia hockii De Wild.

Brachystegia itoliensis Taub.

Brachystegia lujae De Wild.

Brachystegia mpalensis Micheli.

Brachystegia oliveri Taub.

Brachystegia randii Baker f.

Brachystegia taubertiana Hutch. & Burtt Davy.

Brachystegia trijuga R.E.Fr.

Brachystegia venosa Hutch. & Burtt Davy.

Common Name: Msasa

Brachystegia spiciformis
Tree growing in native habitat
Photograph by: Günter Baumann; African plants - A Photo Guide
© Günter Baumann
Brachystegia spiciformis Brachystegia spiciformis Brachystegia spiciformis Brachystegia spiciformis Brachystegia spiciformis Brachystegia spiciformis Brachystegia spiciformis

General Information

Brachystegia spiciformis is a very ornamental but rather slow-growing, large shrub or tree with a flat crown; it can grow from 8 - 25 metres tall[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
,
454
Title
Useful Fiber Plants of the World
Publication
 
Author
Dodge C.R.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
USDA; Washington.
Year
1897
ISBN
 
Description
A rather dated, but very comprehensive catalogue of fibre plants from around the world. The book can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Usually evergreen, it becomes deciduous in dry years[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The flowers are sweetly fragrant and the foliage, as it emerges in shades of copper, red and pink, is so colourful that it looks like flowers from a distance[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The tree is a source of fibre, tannins, fuel, timber and medicines for the local people. It is often planted for the shade it provides and as avenue trees and windbreaks[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The tree is particularly attractive when the new leaves first grow, they are very colourful and, from a distance, give the impression of flowers[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.

Range

Africa - Zimbabwe, north to Zambia and Malawi.

Habitat

In a variety of habitats from coastal to upland, generally in deciduous woodlands and open forest, on hill slopes and river banks at elevations of 50 - 2000 metres[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
]. Freely draining gravel escarpments and near streamsides in rainforests[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height30.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of tropical and subtropical areas, where it can be grown at elevations ranging from 12 - 2,350 metres[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 14 - 28°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It can be killed by temperatures of 1°c or lower[
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Another report says that mature specimens can withstand several degrees of frost in their native environment[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,100mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,200mm[
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Prefers a sunny position[
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Tolerates a wide range of soils, developing best on moist, deep, red soils and usually avoiding poorly drained and shallow soils[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Flowering and fruiting depend on the climatic conditions of a certain year and do not occur every year[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The flowers provide a good source of pollen and nectar, giving an excellent honey, which granulates very slowly[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. After pollination, fruit development takes 7 - 8 months[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The seeds are ejected forcibly from the seedpod as it ripens, sometimes up to 10 metres from the pod[
1309
Title
The Leguminosae; A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses and Nodulation
Publication
 
Author
Allen O.N.; Allen E.K.
Publisher
University of Wisconsin
Year
1981
ISBN
0-333-32221-5
Description
An amazing and comprehensive work, giving a brief guide to the many genera of the family Fabaceae and also the principle uses of the genus.
].
Hybridizes readily with Brachystegia glaucescens and Brachystegia microphylla[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
There are conflicting reports on whether or not this species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, so it is unclear as to whether it fixes atmospheric nitrogen[
755
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
].

Edible Uses

Seed[
454
Title
Useful Fiber Plants of the World
Publication
 
Author
Dodge C.R.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
USDA; Washington.
Year
1897
ISBN
 
Description
A rather dated, but very comprehensive catalogue of fibre plants from around the world. The book can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
883
Title
Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew
Year
1923
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, it contains a rather dated but still useful treatment of the genus Brachystegia with quite a lot of information on plant uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
1309
Title
The Leguminosae; A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses and Nodulation
Publication
 
Author
Allen O.N.; Allen E.K.
Publisher
University of Wisconsin
Year
1981
ISBN
0-333-32221-5
Description
An amazing and comprehensive work, giving a brief guide to the many genera of the family Fabaceae and also the principle uses of the genus.
].

Medicinal

The root is astringent[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. An infusion provides treatment for dysentery and diarrhoea. A decoction is applied as an eyewash for conjunctivitis[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
466
Title
Useful Plants of Nyasaland
Publication
 
Author
Williamson J.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland.
Year
1955
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details of the uses of almost 500 species of plants.
].

The bark is used as a remedy for coughs[
883
Title
Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew
Year
1923
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, it contains a rather dated but still useful treatment of the genus Brachystegia with quite a lot of information on plant uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Ash from the burnt wood is often used as a soil conditioner[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Other Uses

A fibre obtained from the bark is used to make sacking material[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. The inner bark is employed to make rope for roof ties, sacks, cloth, corn bins, beehives, and for other purposes[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
454
Title
Useful Fiber Plants of the World
Publication
 
Author
Dodge C.R.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
USDA; Washington.
Year
1897
ISBN
 
Description
A rather dated, but very comprehensive catalogue of fibre plants from around the world. The book can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
883
Title
Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew
Year
1923
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, it contains a rather dated but still useful treatment of the genus Brachystegia with quite a lot of information on plant uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The bark is used to make bark cloth[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. For this purpose the trunk is stripped to a height of 2.5 - 3 metres according to the height at which the branches fork. The stripped trunk is smeared with cow-dung and wrapped round with plaintain leaves - a new bark soon forms which is ready to be used for bark cloth within 12 months. The third and fourth barks thus obtained are considered the finest in quality, though the tree might yield up to eight or more barks.
The thin outer bark is scraped off the inner bark and discarded. The inner bark is left during the night to dry, and any soft, pulpy substance is scraped off the inside. The strips of bark, which are some 120 - 180cm long and 45cm wide, are laid on a log with a flattened surface and beaten with a mallet until they are the thickness of strong brown paper, by which time they will be 180 - 270cm long and 120cm wide. It is then spread out in the sun to dry, the exposure to light giving the upper surface a tint somewhat like terra-cotta, while the underside is of a lighter shade. Any holes or flaws in the cloth are cut into neat squares and patched with pieces taken from the edges so deftly that in a well-made bark-cloth they are not noticeable. These cloths are usually made up into sheets 2.4 metres square, two lengths being stitched together and pressed in such a manner that the seam is not seen when the cloth is being worn. Strips of fibre from the dry plantain stem are used for thread[
883
Title
Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew
Year
1923
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, it contains a rather dated but still useful treatment of the genus Brachystegia with quite a lot of information on plant uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].


The bark is astringent, containing 13% tannin[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It imparts a reddish colour[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The tree yields large quantities of a deep redgum that is very rich in tannin; it should be of some commercial value[
883
Title
Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew
Year
1923
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, it contains a rather dated but still useful treatment of the genus Brachystegia with quite a lot of information on plant uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The heartwood is variable, ranging from pale brown to a red-brown and darkening on exposure, striping is sometimes present; it is clearly demarcated from the creamy or white sapwood. The texture is coarse; the grain irregular and interlocked; lustrous; there is no characteristic odour or taste. The wood is very hard, heavy; it is not durable and is vulnerable to termite attack; the sapwood is readily attacked by staining fungi. It dries slowly with some tendency to warp, mostly twist; there is appreciable checking and end splitting. The timber is difficult to work and to saw, with moderate blunting of cutters, interlocked grain is liable to tear in planing; it sands to a good finish and polishes
well; it has very poor steam bending properties. Even when treated, it is a rather inferior general purpose timber, used for purposes such as general construction work, furniture components, railway sleepers, parquet flooring[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
316
Title
Tropical Timbers of the World. Ag. Handbook No. 607.
Publication
 
Author
Chudnoff. Martin.
Publisher
USDA Forest Service. Wisconsin.
Year
1984
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details on the properties of the wood of almost 400 species of trees from the Tropics.
,
883
Title
Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew
Year
1923
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, it contains a rather dated but still useful treatment of the genus Brachystegia with quite a lot of information on plant uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The wood is a good fuel and makes a good quality charcoal[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown in situ because the seedlings are difficult to transplant[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. To get good germination results, the seed coat should be nicked at the distal (cotyledon) end of the seed using a sharp tool like a scalpel, knife or a nail clipper. Under ideal conditions, seeds germinate within 21-30 days, with an expected germination rate of mature and healthy seed lots being about 80%[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Seed storage behaviour is orthodox. Viability can be maintained for several years in hermetic storage at 3c with 8-17% mc[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-06-17. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Brachystegia+spiciformis>

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