Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Fl. Zamb. 2(1): 305 (1963).
Trichilia volkensii Gürke (1894).
Origin and geographic distribution
Lepidotrichilia volkensii occurs in mountainous areas in eastern DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia.
In Ethiopia the wood is used for local construction and as fuelwood. In Tanzania it has the same uses, and is additionally used for spoons and tool handles, and for charcoal production. The fruit is edible and eaten raw in Ethiopia, where the bark is used in fermentation processes.
The heartwood is whitish and hard, with a fine texture. The sesquiterpenoid voleneol has been isolated from Lepidotrichilia volkensii.
Evergreen shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–25) m tall; bole often fluted; bark surface smooth, greyish; inner bark pink to red, sometimes with white lines, scented; crown spreading, strongly branched; young branches densely short-hairy. Leaves alternate, imparipinnately compound with (5–)7–11 leaflets; stipules absent; petiole 2.5–8 cm long, rachis 5–20 cm long; petiolules 2–10 mm long; leaflets opposite or alternate, elliptical to ovate, oblong or lanceolate, 5–20 cm × 2–7.5 cm, cuneate to obtuse and often asymmetrical at base, acute to acuminate at apex, short-hairy below with stellate hairs and minute glandular dots, pinnately veined. Inflorescence an axillary contracted panicle up to 25 cm long, short-hairy with yellowish brown, stellate hairs. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, creamy white, fragrant; pedicel 1–2.5 mm long; calyx cup-shaped, c. 2 mm long, with minute teeth; petals free, oblong-lanceolate, 4–5 mm long; stamens 3–4 mm long, fused in lower half into a tube, slightly hairy inside; ovary superior, nearly globose, glabrous, 2–4-celled, style 1–2 mm long, stigma head-shaped, surmounted by 2–4 erect stigmatic lobes. Fruit a depressed-globose berry 7–15 mm in diameter, shallowly grooved, densely covered with stellate hairs, (1–)2–3-seeded. Seeds 2–3 mm long, glossy dark brown or black.
Lepidotrichilia comprises 4 species, 3 of which are endemic to Madagascar.
Lepidotrichilia volkensii is restricted to montane forest at (1050–)1500–2400 (–3300) m altitude, where it often occurs in the understorey of moist forest types in association with Podocarpus, Hagenia and Schefflera, but sometimes also in secondary evergreen bushland. The mean annual rainfall range is 1500–2000 mm.
Lepidotrichilia volkensii can be propagated by seed or by planting out wildlings. Treatment of the seed is not needed, but seeds can only be stored for short periods before they lose their viability.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Lepidotrichilia volkensii is an Afromontane endemic, there are no indications that it suffers from genetic erosion; it is fairly widespread and locally common.
Because Lepidotrichilia volkensii usually has a small bole size and only occurs in mountainous areas, it is very unlikely that the future importance of its wood will exceed its actual limited usage.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2008. Lepidotrichilia volkensii (Gürke) J.-F.Leroy. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.