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Research in Pterocarpus angolensis

Tue Sep 14 10:37:27 EST 1999


Pterocarpus angolensis is a very valuable timber species in Eastern and
Southern Africa. It is used for a range of products including curios,
furniture, panneling etc. Currently it is extensively exploited and
quality stocks of the same are rare to come by. In South Africa it is a
protected species, probably due to very high exploitation rates.
Foresters are fearful that without replanting and an understanding of
the natural regeneration dynamics of the species, it may become
difficult to have future resources of the species. To date no
plantations exist of the species due to difficulties associated with its
regeneration. One of the major problems is the suffrutex tendency
lasting up to 10 years of its early growth before it develops into a

It is believed that the seedling die back every year, during the winter
months from June - August, before the onset of the hot season and fires.
The dead part of the shoot extends to 3cm below ground and once fires
pass through the area, the burning will also extend to the dead 3cm of
the shoot. The following rain dry or season, the shoot grows only to
dieback again. In the process, the plant develops a thick carrot like
tap shoot that may be 10-20X the height of the annual shoot. Once the
tap root is fully developed, size not yet known, the next shoot can grow
up 1m in one rain season of 3-4 months. This shoot develops into the
sapling, never to dieback again and is moderately fire resistant.

The factors causing this phenomenon are not well understood. So is the
mode of development of the shoot. Also extensive field observations have
not been conducted to assess whether provenances occur within its wide
distribution, which do not exhibit this behaviour.

I am currently attempting to undertake research which will attempt to
understand this phenomenon in the green house as well as a limited field

If there is any one out there who can help with any of the following:

1. information which may help us understand this phenomenon
2. what should be included in the research including areas or treatments
that should be looked at
3. assistance with actual field research
4. any other assistance

i will be most grateful.

Any information should be addressed to: 
Jacob P. Mwitwa 
Faculty of Forestry
University of Stellenbosch
Matieland, Stellenbosch 7602
South Africa
Tel. +27 082 739 3893
Fax. +27 21 808 2484
Email: mwitwajp at yahoo.com or 13351397 at land.sun.ac.za


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