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Useful Tropical Plants

Widdringtonia whytei

Rendle

Cupressaceae


This species has in the past been included in Widdringtonia nodiflora, and is still sometimes confused with it[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
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Year
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Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

+ Synonyms

Callitris whytei (Rendle) Engl.

Widdringtonia nodiflora whytei (Rendle) Silba

Common Name:

Widdringtonia whytei
Tree growing in Malawi
Photograph by: Amanita Phalloides
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Widdringtonia whytei Widdringtonia whytei

General Information

Widdringtonia whytei is an evergreen tree with a pyramidal crown that eventually becomes irregular or flat-topped, the branches are spreading or ascending; it can grow up to 50 metres tall. The usually straight bole can be free of branches for up to 20 metres and up to 150cm in diameter, occasionally to 200cm[
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.
].
Widdringtonia whytei has been one of the most important sources of softwood in Malawi for almost 100 years, and has consequently been greatly over-exploited. Trade in the wood has much diminished and is confined now to a local scale[
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.
].
This species is acutely threatened with extinction for a range of reasons. Its area of occupancy and the number of individuals has been severely reduced through excessive felling in the past 100+ years. Currently, only dead standing timber is legally harvested but illegal cutting of living trees is a major problem. An increase in the extent and frequency of fires further reduces remaining stands and prevents regeneration. Although some fires are natural, the majority are the result of deliberately set hunting fires, crop burning and, to a lesser extent, forestry and tourism activities. Fuelwood collection and the expansion of small holder farms into the lower slopes is a more indirect, but widespread threat as it leads to deforestation and degradation of forests at lower altitudes. As these lower forests disappear, pressure increases on the higher altitude forests including the remaining cedar stands. One recent study (Hecht 2008) indicated that, if current trends continue, the lower slopes could be completely deforested within the next decade, with the upper forest following soon after. A potential threat in the near future relates to open cast mining of the significant bauxite deposits that have been found on several parts of the plateau. The plant is classified as 'Critically Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

East tropical Africa - Malawi.

Habitat

Scattered in Afromontane forest, mainly at elevations from 1,800 - 2,550 metres, in regions with abundant precipitation, much of it as fog[
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.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height40.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsWind
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of cool tropical montane areas, mainly within the elevations of 1,830 - 2,550 metres. It is found in areas with abundant precipitation, much of it as fog[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
The soils are largely rocky, acidic and shallow except in colluvial pockets in gorges and valleys[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
Widdringtonia whytei is an important to co-dominant species in the Afromontane forest on Mt. Mulanje, which also includes Podocarpus milanjianus, Cassipourea malosana, Ekebergia capensis, Olea capensis, Polyscias fulva, Rapanea melanophloeos and Xymalos monospora, and in the more fire-prone ecotone (with ericaceous scrub) to grassland, the closely related species Widdringtonia nodiflora. It is a successional species after fire ('periodic fire climax'), but unlike its congener, it does not coppice from (fire-caused) stumps and has to regenerate from seed (Pauw and Linder 1997). Thickets of Erica benguelensis which develop after fire offer protection for cedar seedlings, leading to W. Whytei becoming the dominant tree until invading angiosperms succeed; however, these have been prevented from doing so by the next fire at a cycle of 100-200 years[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
This species is the national tree of Malawi[
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.
].
Young trees are killed by fire, but older ones may survive mild firesdue to their thick bark[
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.
].
The tree grows slowly, stands of trees about 50 years old in Malawi had a mean bole diameterof 42cm[
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.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

Steam-distillation of the sawdust gives a yield of about 10 ml essential oil per 100 g moisture free material. The main constituents of the essential oil are thujopsene (32%), cedrol (14%), thujopsadiene(7%), widdrol (5%) and cuparene (4%)[
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.
].

The heartwood is yellow or pale brown and is clearly demarcated from the narrow pale sapwood. The grain isstraight, texture fine and even. The wood is resinous and has a persistent cedar-like odour. The density of the wood is 530 - 610 kg/m³ at 17.6% moisture content. The wood works easily. It does not take paint well. Planed surfaces have a satiny sheen. The heartwood is durable and highly resistant to termites, borers and fungi. The sapwood is not susceptible to attack by Lyctusbeetles. The wood has been used extensively for construction, furniture, panelling and fence posts. It has now become a scarce 'prestige wood', highly valued for construction and boat building. It is used for making hard-wearing roof shingles that weather to an attractive silver-grey, and it has been used for pencil manufacture. It is used for making carvings, boxes and furniture that are sold to tourists[
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.
].
The wood fibres are (3.8 - 4.4 - (5.1)mm long, and the wood contains about 36% lignin, which is relatively high compared to other softwoods. The wood can be used for papermaking, but the high lignin content could give problems during processing[
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.
].

Propagation

Seed -

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