Trachylobium hornemannianum Hayne
Trachylobium verrucosum (Gaertn.) Oliv.
Common Name: East African Copal
Tree, 7 metres tall, growing in native habitat
Photograph by: Henry T. Wright
East African copal is a flat-crowned, evergreen tree, usually growing from 6 - 24 metres tall but with occasional specimens reaching heights of up to 40 metres. Older trees can have a clear bole up to 15 metres long[
The tree is harvested from the wild for its resin, and is also the source of a useful timber. It is also cultivated as a street tree[
Tropical East Africa - Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, to Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles.
On or near the coast in dry evergreen forest, woodland and evergreen bushland, usually at elevations below 100 metres, but sometimes up to 240 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
The flowers are very attractive to bees[
This plant is the closest living species to the extinct species H. mexicana, which was found in amber from the mines of Chiapas, Mexico[
]. This fact indicates a former physical connection between the land mass of Africa and that of S. America[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
The roots, trunk and fruits yield copal[
]. Much copal can be obtained from semi-fossilized material dug from the soil[
]. Copal is a hard resin that is obtained from various tropical trees and is used to make varnish.
The wood is heavy and hard. It is used for general construction, flooring, joinery, bridges, sleepers, firewood, charcoal, poles and tool handles[
Seed - freshly sown, still moist seed does not require pre-treatment, but if the seedcoat has dried and hardened then it will require some treatment to help it absorb moisture more rapidly. This can be done by soaking the seed for 12 hours in warm water - if it swells it can be sown, otherwise carefully nick the seedcoat, making sure not to damage the embryo, then soak for a few hours more before sowing[
]. Sow the seed in light shade in individual containers or a nursery seedbed. Treated seed usually starts to sprout after 8 - 12 days at an optimal temperature of 30°c[
Softwood cuttings in misted beds with steam or electrically heated soil[
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