Myristicaceae

Description

Guild: np

Life form: medium-sized to large tree Max. height: 35 m (Voorhoeve 1965) Max. diameter: 120 cm (Voorhoeve 1965) Leaf: alternate, simple, narrowly oblong, mesophyll (3-8 x 13-30 cm), entire, coriaceous, young leaves more narrowly elliptic and covered with a dense, rusty brown indumentum of branched hairs, leaves nearly always perforated with numerous holes caused by insects

Inflorescence: axillary, panicle (male inflorescence 5-15 cm long, female inflorescence up to 30 cm long) Flower: monoecious; small; both male and female flowers rufous

Fruit: dry dehiscent, in large bunches (2.3 x 3 cm), woody; 1 seed Seed: with a red aril Other: an unbuttressed tree with very characteristic, highly untidy looking crown. The boughs are initially in whorls, but all the lesser branches are pendulous on the periphery of the crown, and most leaves are generally heavily insect-tattered. Wood density is 0.25 g/cm3.

Distribution

Continent: Benin to Uganda, Angola (Voorhoeve 1965) Upper Guinea: Guinea to Togo (Voorhoeve 1965) Forest type: upland evergreen forest, wet evergreen forest, moist evergreen forest, moist semi-deciduous forest, dry semi-deciduous forest, secondary forest (Voorhoeve 1965, Hall & Swaine 1981)

Habitat

The abundance increases with rainfall, attains an optimum around 2000 mm/yr, to decline strongly after 2600 mm/yr. It is most abundant at infertile soils (regression analysis). Similarly, in Ghana it prefers high rainfall areas and infertile soils (Swaine 1996). It is very drought sensitive as a seedling (Veenendaal & Swaine 1996), but does not grow in swamps (Voorhoeve 1965). It is a light demander but prefers partial shade in youth (Taylor 1960). The tree is a common component of very disturbed forest.

Regeneration

Germination is normal (Hawthorne 1995a). It has a cryptocotylar epigeal reserve seedling type (cf. Voorhoeve 1965). It has a poor germination which may be due to short viability (Savill & Fox 1967). Seedlings are common in complete shade.

Growth

Judging from the conspicuousness of the tree in heavily disturbed forest it would seem that it is capable of rapid and healthy ongrowth when large gaps appear in the canopy. Mean annual increments of between 0.6 and 2.4 cm in diameter have been observed in Sierra Leone (Savill & Fox 1967).

Deciduousness: evergreen Dispersal: probably by animals, especially birds. Lieberman et al. (1987) showed that elephants can be effective dispersal agents. It is an important fruit tree for birds (Gautier-Hion & Michaloud 1989). Timing: flowering period from November to April; fruits ripen during the next flowering season (Voorhoeve 1965)

Uses

A timber species. The seeds have a very high fat content and can be used as candles.

Data sources

Taylor (1960), Voorhoeve (1965), Savill & Fox (1967), Hall & Swaine (1981), Lieberman et al. (1987), Gauthier-Hion & Michaloud (1989), Swaine & Veenendaal (1994), Hawthorne (1995a), Swaine (1996), Veenendaal & Swaine (1996)

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