Trichilia drageana

Botanical Name: Trichilia drageana

Common Name: Forest Mahogany, Mushikishi, Musikili, Msikizi

Plant Family: Meliaceae (Mahogany Family)

Growth Form, Habitat and Distribution: A large evergreen tree with a straight trunk, sometimes swollen or buttressed, and upward spreading branches giving a dense rounded crown. Occurring in the wetter, northern parts of Zambia in evergreen and montane forest and riparian woodland. Similar to Khaya anthotheca but with a smaller and imparipinnate and not paripinnate arrangement of leaflets. Trichilia emetica is usually smaller and widespread at low and medium altitudes in riverine and other woodlands.

Size: Height up to 30m, spread 8 to 15m.

Bark: Grey-brown and smooth.

Leaves: Compound, imparipinnate with 3 to 5 pairs of opposite or alternate, obovate to oblong-elliptical, leathery, leaflets (up to 21cm, usually about 12cm), dark glossy green above, paler below, apex rounded. Petiole 8 to 10cm.

Flowers: Large, sweet scented creamy-white, petals up to 2.5cm in short, branched axillary sprays (5cm), September to November.

Fruit: A creamy brown, velvety, round wooden capsule (3cm) without a neck, splitting into 3 or 4 valves, revealing 3 to 6 glossy-black seeds mostly surrounded by the scarlet arils, December to March.

Uses: A good shade tree. The reddish brown wood is used in the timber trade. The seeds yield an oil used for soap and most parts are used in traditional medicine. The flowers and seeds attract several bird, butterfly and moth species.