Indigenous Zambezi teak tree
Scientific name:Baikaea plurijuga
English Name: Zambezi redwood, Zambezi teak
Local Name: Mukusi (L)
Baikiaea plurijuga is a semi-deciduous, small to medium-sized tree up to 25m tall; the trunk is branchless for up to 5m, up to 120cm in diameter, sometimes swollen at base; bark surface vertically fissured and cracked, pale grey to brown; crown large and dense, with spreading branches; twigs rusty-brown short-hairy, soon becoming glabrous. Baikiaea plurijuga is characteristic for dry deciduous forest on Kalahari and Karroo sands, up to 1200m altitude. It is well adapted to dry sites on free-draining sandy soils with a pH of 5–5.5. The mean annual rainfall in the area of distribution is (350–)600–1100 mm, with a dry season of 6–8 months, and the temperature variation can be extreme, from a mean minimum temperature of 10–13°C in the cold season to a mean maximum temperature of 32–35°C in the warm season. Frost may occur in the cold season. The plant suffers adversely from fires in the dry season, and cannot afterwards compete with fast-growing, thorny, colonizer bushe.
Bark decoctions and infusions are taken as tonic and to treat eye diseases, syphilis and toothache. Sap is used to treat stomach-ache, gum to treat rabies. The seeds are used as beads in strings.
Baikiaea plurijuga is a preferred tree for firewood, in Namibia it is valued for firewood, giving a long-lasting fire producing little ash. It is also used for charcoal production. The bark and wood extracts have been used for tanning to produce reddish brown leather. The wood, is widely used for poles in house building, doors, mine props, vehicle bodies, railway sleepers, furniture, drums, toys, implements, tool handles and dug-out canoes. Its high resistance to cuts, low shrinkage rates and attractive appearance make it particularly suitable for heavy flooring. Furthermore, it is suitable for interior trim, vats, food containers, carvings, and plywood.