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Trema orientalis

   (Family: Celtidaceae)
Afrikaans: hophout English: trema, pigeon wood, Gunpowder tree, Indian Charcoal Tree, Indian Nettle, Oriental nettle, Poison peach Xhosa: umVangazi, uPhakane  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Tree
Height: 1.5 - 18m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (heavy)
  Frost Tolerant (light)
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred altitude: 0 - 2100m
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Loam (gritty, moist, and retains water easily),
Clay (fine texture, holds a lot of water),
Sand (coarse texture, drains easily)
Biome: Forest
Flowering time EDIT
    x x x x x x        
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
  Flower info
  Flowers are small, inconspicuous and greenish, carried in short dense bunches. They are usually unisexual, i.e. male and female are separate, occasionally they are found together
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf type
Leaf arrangement
Bark / Stem type
  Leaf info EDIT
  The leaves are simple, alternate, stipulate although the stipules drop early, and usually 3-nerved from the base. The leaf base is frequently unequal. Leaves taper from the base to the apex, and vary from 60 to 150 mm long and 25 to 50 mm wide. Leaf margins are finely serrated, and the young leaves are rough and hairy, occasionally becoming smooth when old.
Fruit colour
Fruit size Length: 4mm   Width: 6mm
Seed colour
  Seed info EDIT
  Fruit small, round and fleshy, glossy black when ripe, 4-6 mm, containing 1 dull black seed embedded in bright green flesh.
Description EDIT
A fast-growing shade tree with soft foliage. Depending on climatic conditions, trees may be evergreen or deciduous. In forests it is a straight, slender tree, up to 18 m on forest margins, and in the open it is wider-spreading, sometimes drooping, and in dry areas it often grows as a shrub approximately 3 m tall. The less water it receives, the shorter it is.

Flowers throughout the year. It generally lives only 8 to 10 years.
Growing EDIT
Trema orientalis is a common pioneer tree, seed germinates readily and growth is rapid.
Prefers sites on well-drained, exposed soils without leaf litter, demonstrating an ability to become established on poor or disturbed soil.

Collect ripe fruits directly from healthy trees. Seed may be air dried and stored for up to 6 months, but may also be planted immediately. No pretreatment is required (RSCU 1992). Germination occurs within 10 to 30 days, with 70 to 80% of the seeds germinating. Full light encourages germination. Seedlings show rapid growth in a nursery, and will reach 1 m within 6 weeks of germination. Seedlings may be outplanted after 3 months in the nursery (Forest Division 1984).

Reported to germinate easily from seed. Full light encourages germination.
Distribution EDIT
Widely distributed through a range of altitudes in higher rainfall areas. It is common along the margins of lowland and upland forests, extending into riverine forests and forest gaps.
History EDIT
The name Trema is based on the Greek word for hole and pertains to the pitted stone of the fruit. The common name pigeon wood is derived from the fact that pigeons are frequently seen nesting or roosting in these trees.

It is found throughout Tanzania on suitable sites, including the Coast, Dodoma, and Tabora.
The leaves are used to treat coughs and sore throats and the bark is used to make a cough syrup. Other reported uses include remedies for asthma, bronchitis, gonorrhoea, malaria, yellow fever, toothaches, and intestinal worms (Rulangaranga 1989). The tree also contains sapiens, condensed tannins, and other chemical constituents important for pharmaceuticals (FAO 1986). It is used as an insect repellent and an antidote to general poisoning.

It could be used as a shade plant for coffee or cardamom or for the rehabilitation of poor sites.

It is nitrogen fixing and considered to have immediate potential for the rehabilitation of poor exposed soils.

The timber is considered to be poor and of only fair quality, but the wood is used for firewood, charcoal, poles, and posts.
Ecology EDIT
Foliage is browsed by livestock and wild animals.
It is a host tree for butterflies. The fruit attracts birds; bees are attracted to the flowers.
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