Scientific name: Uapaca kirkiana
Uapaca kirkiana is a small to medium-sized evergreen or semi-deciduous tree with spreading multiple branches forming a dense rounded crown.
The trunk is short and firm, attaining a height of 5-12m and diameter of 5-25cm. The bark is dark grey or grey-brown, thick and deeply fissured. Branch lets short, thick with prominent leaf scars.
An infusion made from the roots is used to treat indigestion and dysentery.
The fruit is edible; The wood is used as timber and as firewood and charcoal and the leaves are used as a cockroach repellent in homes. Uapaca kirkiana charcoal is highly regarded. It is also a good source of firewood. The wood is light with white sapwood and reddish-brown, figured heartwood. It is hard and durable, has a straight grain, saws clean and can be planed to a smooth finish. It glues well, holds nails firmly and takes a clear varnish finish. Suitable for general carpentry, house building and domestic utensils, furniture and joinery, carvings and boxes. The wood is also termite resistant. Uapaca kirkiana is used for tannin too. Its roots produce a blue dye. In Malawi and Zambia, the popular brands of Uapaca kirkiana wine, ‘mulunguzi’ and ‘masaku’, are produced commercially. The fruit is a significant source of income in rural areas. The thick, broad leaves are used as wrappers for storage of processed food.
Fruits and leaves are used as fodder and the flowers are a source of honey. The tree is planted for erosion control, shade, shelter, living fence and as an ornamental. It forms a mutual association with mycorrhizae and act as a soil improver and is an important agro-forestry tree.
The plant is are found wild at an altitude of 500 - 2,000 metres in the tropics but grows best where the mean annual temperature is within the range of 18 - 24°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 700 - 1,500mm, but can tolerate 500 - 2,000mm.