Macaranga kilimandscharica

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Local names:
English (macaranga)

Macaranga kilimandscharica is a small to medium semi-deciduous tree 4.5-18 m, or large tree up to 27 m, often with a pyramidal crown, much branched, branches ascending, or with a broad, spreading crown. Bark green at first, later becoming greyish white, light or dark grey. Stem smooth or longitudinally striated or fluted, with fluted stems. Young shoots and inflorescence-axes densely ferruginous tomentellous at first, later glabrescent.

Leaves triangular-ovate, base cuneate, rounded, truncate or rarely subcordate, occasionally peltate, apex acuminate, 5-15 cm x 3-10 cm. 3-7 nerved from the base, rusty -tomentellous but glabrescent, densely glandular-punctate beneath.

Inflorescence 2-10 cm long, cyathia yellow-green. Male inflorescence paniculate, bracts ovate-lanceolate, 8-15 cm long, 2-3 mm wide, male flowers subsessile, stamens 2, filaments fused basally, anthers obscurely 4-thecous, 0.5 mm across. Female inflorescence racemose to subpaniculate, female flower pedicels 1-2 mm long, calyx cupular splitting into 2-3 lobes which flatten as the fruit matures, ovary 1-2 lobate, 1-1.5 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, densely yellowish granulate-glandular.

Fruit dull green, subglobose or 2-lobed, 4-6 mm x 5-11 mm densely glandular, 1-seeded.
M. kilimandscarica is placed in the tribe Acalypheae and has close affinities with the genus Acalypha. 

The generic name is after a Madagascan native name and the specific epithet kilimandscharica refers to Mt. Kilimanjaro area of Tanzania.

Ecology

M. kilimandscharica is a fast growing pioneer species of montane evergreen forest, and may be locally common to dominant in wetter vegetation types. It regenerates vigorously in clear-felled areas, secondary forest, forest edges, riverine forest and disturbed places. Usually associated with Albizia gummifera, Polyscias fulva or Vernonia subuligera, it often replaces selectively logged Ocotea usambarensis.

Native range
Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Tree management

M. kilimandscharica is a fast growing tree with little management needs once established. When still young care should be offered against injury and drought.

M. kilimandscharica is a fast growing pioneer species of montane evergreen forest, and may be locally common to dominant in wetter vegetation types. It regenerates vigorously in clear-felled areas, secondary forest, forest edges, riverine forest and disturbed places. Usually associated with Albizia gummifera, Polyscias fulva or Vernonia subuligera, it often replaces selectively logged Ocotea usambarensis.

Direct seeding and use of wildings are the most preferred propagation methods for M. kilimandscharica.

Erosion control:  This is a useful pioneer species with potential use in protecting soils on logged sites.

Macaranga is used as a firewood source.

Timber:  Wood pink, soft, straight grained; weight 54-68 kg/cu ft, difficult to saw and apt to split in seasoning. Has been used for boxes and crates in Kenya.

Shade or shelter:  M. kilimandscharica has a broad dense crown providing deep shade.

Medicine:  Root extracts are drunk for bilharzia treatment, the root decoction is drunk as a cough remedy and the leaf decoction for stomach ailments.

Dry wood from macaranga have been used for fencing.

Soil improver:  Leaf litter from the tree enriches surrounding soil.

Intercropping:  Regeneration of Ocotea usambarensis is good under M. kilimandscharica. Macaranga is one of the species used in the complex multistoreyed Chagga homegardens. The high species diversity in these gardens minimises drought, pest and economic risks associated with monocultural farm systems. The species is also used as a coffee shade tree in the Ethiopian highlands.