Indigenous red mahogany tree
Scientific name: Khaya nyasica;
Local name(s): Mbawa, Mululu (B, K, T), Mubaba (N).
a is a large, fast-growing, semi-deciduous tree with a dense crown, sometimes exceeding 60 metres in height, producing abundant panicles of fragrant, white flowers
Khaya nyasica is found throughout Zambia, at medium to low altitudes, normally beside rivers and it has been planted for timber around settlements in Southern Province. It grows best in deep well drained soils but can withstand seasonal flooding.
The Red mahogany is characterised with a rounded branched crown, long straight stem and buttress roots. The bark is greyish brown and smooth on young branches becoming mottled grey-brown and flaky on mature branches. Leaves of this tree are dark shiny green at the top and pale green at the bottom and with clear distinct veins. Moreover, the leaves are alternate and compound with 3-7 leaflets on each leaf.
The bitter-tasting bark is widely used in traditional medicine. It is taken to treat cough, whereas bark decoctions or infusions are taken to treat fever, colds, pneumonia, abdominal pains, vomiting and gonorrhoea, and applied externally to wounds, sores and ulcers. Crushed bark is taken as aphrodisiac and to treat male impotence.
The wood is highly valued for furniture, cabinet work, decorative boxes and cases and veneer, and is also commonly used for window frames, panelling, doors and staircases. It is suitable for light flooring, ship building, vehicle bodies, sporting goods, musical instruments, toys, novelties, carving, plywood and pulpwood. It is also used as fuelwood and for charcoal production. Casts a dense shade, hence suitable as a shade tree and also used as an ornamental tree because of its dense canopy.
A plant of the tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28°c, but can tolerate 14 - 36°c.The plant cannot tolerate frosts It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,600mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,800mm. Trees may already develop fruits when they have a bole diameter of 18cm, but abundant fruiting usually starts at diameters above 70cm. This means that the removal of trees of diameter classes below 70 cm from the forest may result in lack of natural regeneration.