More than 50 indigenous trees at Nature Centre

For hope and good news we are in the process of determination of more than 50 indigenous tree species on the premises of Pugu Hills Nature Centre, in order to create awareness about the incredible richness of the Tanzanian biodiversity. With only six hectares of regenerating forest (Pugu Hills Nature Center) where once maize and coconut were planted on the outskirt of an uncontrolled metropolis (Dar es Salaam) we want to prove more tree diversity than the whole of the Netherlands (the homeland of the owners).

Although we did not yet secure the required botanical expertise support (any contribution and correction is welcome) we still hope to prove our case by pictures and here and there a more scientific foundation for the different indigenous tree species found at Pugu Hills. We also include those which where planted by the centre as long as they are indigenous for the Pugu area.

Our target is to add at least one tree species per week.


1 Pod Mahogany pod with seeds pod mahogany Afzelia quanzensis - The oldest tree on the property and remnant of the Pugu Forest which once stretched up to the airport. You will find it halfway the 1K Nature Trail. With the onset of the rains when all vegetation looks devastating dry, the pod mahogany will be exploding with young green leaves and I wonder where it stores all energy required for such a surprising growth.
2 Tall sterculia Tall sterculia Sterculia appendiculata - The story of my favorite "tree" is a long one, with endless trips from Moshi to Dar until we managed to find a germinating seed. It started in the nursery as expected from such a tall tree. Planted at Pugu (2004) it almost stopped growing either struggling with termites or long spells of drought. Surprisingly it is quite common in Mtwara along the coast. Perhaps Pugu is not hot enough? Whatever the cause of the struggling Sterculia it is clear that reforestation and enrichment of the Pugu Forest is not an easy task.
3 Peacock flower Mkenge Albizia gummifera - The most successful tree at Pugu HIlls Nature Centre is one of the prides when its pink - red flowers cover the canopy. It grows up to 30m is said to be fire resistant and it has the nice square leaves with a diagonal vein.
4 Knobwood Knobwood Zanthoxylum chalybeum - The tree which can reach 12m is hard to miss with its distinct large woody knobs and sharp thorn. It is laimed to be over-exploited for its medecinal properties and durable timber
5 Natal Wild Pear mistaken_grewia_reduced Dombeya cymosa - Very common shrub or small tree at Pugu, flowering with the first rains and attracting butterflies and larvea. In absence of swahili name a bantu name (Swasiland) of (u)Mwuwane could do. The tree was at the Mocambique IUCN red list at some stage.
6 Wild Custard Apple wild_custard Annona Senegalensis - The wild custard is not a forest tree and needs lot of sun. Fruits edible you can try one after the rains
7 Black Plum black_plum Vitex Doniana - In the valley several black plums grow along the nature trail. The favorite fruit is actively distributed by the birds and monkeys
8 Sausage tree flower sausage tree_reduced Kigelia Africana - Harassed by the donkey some sausage trees did survive. The sausage is protecting roofs being taken by the storm in Malawi. The flower is beautiful but smelly
9 Mangosteen mangosteen Garcinia Livinstonei - African mongostein is a wide spread plant that can be found in tropical areas of Africa, From the Ivory Coast to South Africa. This evergreen tree bears small thin skinned, bright orange berries that grow to about 2-3 cm in diameter. The fruit tastes pleasantly sweet but has an acidic after taste, and has one large seed at the centre of the fruit. The fruit is mostly consumed fresh but can be used to flavor wines and liqueurs. The fresh berries are infamous for their hated staining power.
10 Rock elm mvule_tree_leave_inset Milicia excelsa - The pride of Pugu Hills Nature Centre and emerging from an immense root chunk which survived the sporadic attempts to change the hill slopes in agriculture land. Mvule (Swahili) is one of the first species disappearing from the forest reserves being in great demand hardwood. Perhaps we should not even publish its existence on the website
11 Long pod cassia long_pod_pool_reduced Cassia abbreviata subsp. abbreviata - A small tree with beautiful yellow blossom. At the pool one long pod acts as a shade for the concrete beds.
12 Birdseye Bush ochna_mossambicensis Ochna mossambicensis - Like the previous small tree, the birdseye bush has bright yellow blossom with large bright green leaves. It is easy recognised blooming after the rains at the small bridge going to the camp hill.
13 Sickle bush "Mvunja shoka" Sickle bush - Dichrostachys cinerea Dichrostagus cinerea - The shrub or tree growing all over Africa, has the swahili name "ax-breaker" due to its hardness. It is typical for disturbed land and its gradual disappearence at Pugu Hills is a positive sign indicating the return of a more biodiverse habitat.
14 Golden bean tree markhamoa obtusifolia Markhamia obtusifolia - This unpretending tree which can be eaten alive by termites and look like dead firewood will recover and show its lovely yellow blossom. Eventually developing in long golden velvety pods. There is one just after you drive up the property immediately after the corner on the left. In a survey of both mature and regenerating trees and shrubs in Ruvu South Reserve a local name of Mpugu pugu is listed for the golden bean.
15 African blackwood mpingo_african blackwood_reduced Dalbergia melanoxylon - The well known Mpingo tree in Swahili is used for makonde carvings and a very hardy and successful tree. At the pool a big Mpingo is providing shade for the concrete bed.
16 Common Star-chestnut common star_chestnut Sterculia rogersii - This African chestnut can survive hot lowland. It has a beautiful colored bark with red gray and brown. The chestnut planted at Pugu along the "old road" is the size of the plant on the image and some years from developing an arty color on its stem.
17 Powder puff tree swamp_flower Barringtonia racemosa - One of the first victims of disturbed habitat and loss of perennial streams is the swamp tree "Powder puff tree" named after its flowers. We have secured a specie at the nature pool where it has its feet in the water.
18 Bridelia bridelia_micrantha Bridelia micrantha - The bridelia is popular for its small fruit and frequently visited by birds. It is tolerating a swampy environment. Along the 1K nature trail it can be found before reaching the 600M. signpost. You can see a mature tree at the downstream side of the pit (left). The pit  was dug by the previous users of the land for collecting runoff water. It may have made the difference for the Bridelia to outgrow its competitors. The young branches grow in a typical zigzag fashion.
19 Coldbark Ochna ochna_arborea Ochna arborea - This forest tree with dark shiny leaves has beautiful yellow flowers and is claimed to have a "cold bark". After the bloooming it is easy to recognise with its typical black drupes (with seeds inside) surrounded by red sepals like flowers. One of the species growths at the camp hill and will be announced as soon as we have tested the cold bark (the stem is a bit small still for testing).
20 Sycomore Fig planting_sycomore_fig_2008 Ficus sycomorus - One of the many ficus species. Not as common as the strangler ficus which is all over Dar es Salaam or the Ficus elastica decora very common in European households with it big leaves. An old forest survivor is on the left when arriving at the forested border of the Centre (on the neighbour's property). Several have been planted along the 1KM nature trail by an IST student on her birthday. The tree even has a placemark on Google Earth
21 Uvaria kirkii uvaria_kirkii_babbelaar Uvaria kirkii - The sweet scenting flower of this small tree or shrub is all over the Centre blooming immidiately after a major storm. A real tree has yet to developed and it will need to be seen if the Uvaria kirkii qualifies as an indigenous "tree"
22 Tassel Berry antidesma_venosum Antidesma venosum - The Tassel Berry is a small swamp tree and found directly under the pond of the bamboo along the Nature Trail. It was cut by villagers 20 years ago and obviously growing very slow. More species are in the same valley downstream.
23 Large-leaved Falsethorn albizia_versicolor Albizia versicolor - Several of these stout trees are found in the area. The biggest outside the Centre and hopefully surviving the buidling boom. The pods are poisonous for sheep and cattle who will show nervous behaviour after being intoxicated. The roots produce an alternative for soap in case the economic crisis persists.
24 Uvaria acuminata (No English name) Uvaria acuminata Uvaria acuminata - An aromatic shrub, liane or small tree.