A large tree widely distributed in Africa. It
prefers moist soils with a high water table
beside rivers, but will also grow in open
woodland. In Ethiopia, it does very well
in Moist and Wet Kolla and Weyna Dega
agroclimatic zones of all regions, 1,200—
2,600 m. There are several subspecies in
Firewood, charcoal, timber (general
construction, furniture), poles, tool
handles, carvings, food (fruit), tea substitute
(leaves), medicine (bark, roots, leaves), bee
forage, dye and tannin (bark).
A densely leafy forest tree, usually 10–15 m
but up to 25 m, the trunk broad and fluted
and the crown rounded and heavy, the
branchlets drooping, the stems thick and
angular. BARK: Smooth when young, black
and rough with age, flaking, producing
a red watery sap if cut. LEAVES: Young
leaves purple‑red, but mature leaves dark
green, in opposite pairs, shiny and smooth
on both surfaces, the tip long but rounded,
on a short grooved stalk. The leaves are
variable in shape. FLOWERS: White,
showy stamens, in dense branched heads 10
cm across, the honey‑sweet smell attracting
many insects; stalks angular, square.
FRUIT: Oval to 3 cm, purple‑ black and
shiny, one‑seeded, in big bunches of 20–30.
Seedlings, wildings, direct sowing at site.
Good germination. About 2,400–3,700
seed per kg.
Treatment: Not necessary but remove
flesh and wash in water before sowing.
Storage: Must be sown immediately the
fruit is picked. Germination is reduced
with any attempt to dry and store the
The wood is brown, hard and strong. It
is easily worked but liable to split. Seeds
available from June to September.