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By Paul Latham, Blairgowrie, UK
Dombeya goetzenii, Dombeya faucicola, Dombeya schimperiana
Dombeya torrida is a forest tree that can grow to 25 m high. It is often found growing along forest edges at altitudes of 1800-3300 m in Afromontane forest. It also persists in forest patches and gallery forests and is often seen as a single tree in mountain grassland and farmland. Dombeya torrida is found in East Africa and in Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda and Sudan where rainfall ranges from 1000-2000 mm per year. It is a common understorey tree in Ethiopia.
LEAVES: Broadly ovate, base deeply cordate, apex acuminate, margin serrate to entire, 4-25 by 3-15 cm, densely pubescent, especially on the reddish veins.
FLOWERS: White, red at the base inside,
in umbels with branched stalks;
petals 11-21 mm long.
FRUIT: Round and hairy.
The wood is hard and heavy, easy to work and therefore suitable for turnery and house construction, but it is not durable in the ground. It is used for poles and making tool handles, and is suitable for firewood.
The bark fibre is used for making cloth and rope. Fallen leaves produce good mulch for soil improvement. Leaves are browsed by cattle. Root bark is used for wound dressing. In Rwanda the tree is used for soil conservation and as a support for hives.
Can be planted from seed but needs careful attention. The seed is not easy to obtain and it is easier to plant out wildlings.
Can be coppiced, lopped or pollarded.
BEENTJE, H, J (1994) Kenya Trees, Shrubs and Lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. BEKELE-TESEMMA,A; BIRNIE,A; TENGNAS,B (1993) Useful trees and Shrubs for Ethiopia. Regional Soil Conservation Unit/SIDA, Uppsala, Sweden.
EGLI, A; KALINGANIRE,A (1988) Les Arbres et Arbustes Agroforestiers au Rwanda. Institut des Sciences Agronomique du Rwanda, Butare, Rw
FICHTL,R; ADI,A (1994) Honeybee Flora of Ethiopia. Margraf Verlag, Weikersheim, Germany. ROCHELEAU,D; WEBER,F; FIELD-JUMA,A (1988) Agroforestry in dryland Africa. lCRAF, Nairobi, Kenya.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.
SEYANI, J. H. (1991) Dombeya in Africa: Opera Botanica Belgica 2. National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Meise, Belgium. .
anda. In French.
[Bees for Development Journal #58]