Combretum molle

Botanical Name: Combretum molle

Common Name: Velvet Bush Willow, Montamfumu, Mulama, Chihuma, Mufula, Kakunguni, Kalama, Mkute

Plant Family: Combretaceae (Combretum Family)

Growth Form, Habitat and Distribution: A small to medium-sized deciduous tree, often with a leaning stem and heavy, drooping branches usually giving an open, rounded crown. Occurs throughout Zambia in most woodland types, less common in the south-west and most common in Miombo woodland, often on termite mounds. Combretum molle is a diverse species with much variation.

Size: Height up to 13m, spread up to 15m.

Bark: Dark black-brown, rough, finely fissured with small, uniform square scales.

Leaves: Simple, opposite, ovate-elliptic (up to 14cm but usually 6 to 10cm), dull green with dense velvety hairs on both surfaces above, vein sunken above, tapering to the apex, base rounded. Petiole short and thick, 1cm.

Flowers: Dioecious. Axillary sprays of small, mainly December to March.

Fruit: Golden brown, flat, kidney-shaped pods (3 to 5cm) at the ends of branchlets, ripening the following May to October. The single seed germinates in the pod and has an attractive, convoluted pattern of reddish lines and numerous resin glands.

Uses: An attractive garden tree, favoured by bees and other insects and hornbills and insect-eating birds.