for Agricultural and Pastoral Communities
A B Katende, Ann Birnie and Bo Tengnas
REGIONAL SOIL CONSERVATION UNIT (RSCU)
Regional Land Management Unit, RELMA/Sida, ICRAF House, Gigiri
P. O. Box 63403, Nairobi, Kenya.
© Regional Land Management Unit (RELMA), Swedish International Development Cooperation
Front cover photographs from:
R E L M A Archives
Top: Trees near the home are easy to look after and provide shade, beauty and useful
Bottom: A panoramic view of a Ugandan Landscape
Natural Resource Management Consultant ltd.
S-310 38 Simlangsdalen, Sweden.
Copy-editing, design and typesetting by:
Editor of RSCU series of publications: Paul Rimmerfors/RSCU
Editor of RELMA series of publications: Alex Oduor/RELMA
Useful Trees and Shrubs for Uganda. Identification and Management for Agricultural and Pastoral
Communities. By A. B. Katende, Ann Birnie and Bo Tengnas - Kamapala and Nairobi: Regional
Soil Conservation Units (RSCU), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida),
The contents of this manual may be reproduced without special permission. However,
acknowledgment of the source is requested. Views expressed in the RELMA series of publications
are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of RELMA/Sida.
Majestic Printing Works Ltd
P. O. Box 42466
Illustrated glossary of some botanical terms xiv
Summary table of species and their uses 685
Feedback form 709
1. The main physical features of Uganda vi
2. The administrative regions and main towns of Uganda viii
3. The main vegetation zones of Uganda x
4. The main forests of Uganda xii
5. The main language groups of Uganda xxiii
1. Curriculumfor In-service Training in Agroforestry and Related Subjects in Kenya. Edited by
Stachys N. Muturi, 1992 (ISBN 9966-896-03-1)
2. Agroforestry Manual for Extension Workers with Emphasis on Small-Scah Farmers in Eastern Province, Zambia.
By Samuel Simute, 1992 (ISBN 9966-896-07-4)
3. Guidelines on Agroforestry Extension Planning in Kenya. By Bo Tengnas, 1993 (ISBN 9966-896-11-2)
4. Agroforestry Manual for Extension Workers in Southern Province, Zambia. By Jericho Mulofwa with Samuel
Simute and Bo Tengnas, 1994 (ISBN 9966-896-14-7)
5. Useful Trees and Shrubs for Ethiopia: Identification, Propagation and Management for Agricultural and Pastoral
Communities. By Azene Bekele-Tessema with Anne Birnie and Bo Tengnas, 1993
6. Useful Trees and Shrubs for Tanzania: Identification, Propagation and Management for Agricultural and Pastoral
Communities. By L.P Mbuya, H.P. Msanga, C.K. Rufo, Ann Birnie and Bo Tengnas, 1994
7. Soil Conservation in Arusha Region, Tanzania: Manual for Extension Workers with Emphasis on Small-Scale
Farmers. By Per Assmo with Arne Eriksson, 1994 (ISBN 9966-896-19-8)
8. Curriculumfor Training in Soil and Water Conservation in Kenya. Edited by Stachys N. Muturi and Fabian
S. Muya, 1994 (ISBN 9966-896-20-1)
9. The Soils of Ethiopia: Annotated Bibliography. By Berhanu Debele, 1994 (ISBN 9966-896-21 -X)
10. Useful Trees and Shrubs for Uganda: Identification, Propagation and Management for Agricultural and Pastoral
Communities. By A.B. Katende, Ann Birnie and Bo Tengnas, 1995 (ISBN 9966-896-22-8)
11. Agroforestry Extension Manual for Northern Zambia. By Henry Chilufya and Bo Tengnas, 1996
12. Useful Trees and Shrubs in Eritrea: Identification, Propagation and Management for Agricultural and Pastorial
13. Facilitators'Manual for Communication Skills Workshop. By Pamela Baxter, 1996 (ISBN 9966-896-25-2)
14. Agroforestry Extension Manual for Extension Workers in Central and Lusaka Provinces, Zambia.
By Joseph Banda, Penias Banda and Bo Tengnas, 1997 (ISBN 9966-896-31-7)
15. Integrated Soil Fertility Management on Small-Scale Farms in Eastern Province of Zambia. Edited by T h o m a s
Raussen, 1997 (ISBN 9966-896-32-5)
16. Water Harvesting: An illustrative Manual for Development of Microcatchment Techniques for Crop Production in
17. Agroforestry Extension Manual for Eastern Zambia. By Samuel Simute, G.L. Phiri and Bo Tengnas,
1998 (ISBN 9966-896-36-8)
18. Banana Production in Uganda: An Essential Food and Cash Crop. By Aloysius Karugaba with Gathiru
Kimaru, 1999 (ISBN 9966-896-39-2)
19. Wild Food and Mushrooms of Uganda. By Anthony B. Katende, Paul Ssegawa, Ann Birnie with
Christine Holding and Bo Tengnas, 1999 (ISBN 9966-896-39-2)
20. Uganda Land Resources Manual: A Guide for Extension Workers. By Charles Rusoke, Antony Nyakuni,
Sandra Mwebaze, John Okorio, Frank Akena and Gathiru Kimaru, 2000 (ISBN 9966-896-44-9)
21. Agroforestry Handbook for the Banana-Coffee Zone of Uganda: Farmers' Practices and Experiences.
By I. Oluka-Akileng, J. Francis Esegu, Alice A. Kaudia and Alex Lwakuba, 2000
This book is the fourth in a series covering the countries of East Africa published with
support from SIDA through the Regional Soil Conservation Unit. The corresponding
handbook for Kenya was published by ICRAF in 1992 with financial support from
SIDA and technical input from RSCU professionals. The succeeding volumes for
Ethiopia and Tanzania were published by RSCU in 1993 and 1994, respectively, and
produced in close collaboration with relevant institutions and individuals in each
The major aims of these handbooks are to document the useful tree and shrub
species of the region and to provide information to subject-matter specialists, extension
workers, institutions and farmers on species that have production and conservation
potential for small-scale farmers in the region.
The present book covering Uganda contains even more species than the earlier
ones, mainly due to three factors. Firstly, Uganda is extremely rich in tropical species.
Secondly, RSCU found a Ugandan co-author, A-B. Katende, who has an enormous
amount of knowledge about the trees of Uganda; knowledge that he willingly made
available for the production of the book. Thirdly, more forest species have been
covered than in the earlier books which concentrated more on the agricultural and
pastoral settings. With growing worldwide interest in the Uganda rain-forest
ecosystems, the authors felt it was important also to include species from a bio-
diverstity conservation point of view. Thus the size of this book rnay not be as handy
as one would wish, but RSCU felt it was important to include as much of the
available information as possible.
Bo Tengnas, a former RSCU staff member now working as an agroforestry
consultant, and Ann Birnie, a Nairobi-based botanist, teacher and illustrator, have
contributed substantially to the production of the book and done the technical editing.
Mrs Birnie has also organized all the illustrations.
RSCU publishes this handbook in the hope that it will be widely used by
individuals, extension workers and educational and research institutions in order to
foster a greater interest in the growing and management of a wide range of trees and
shrubs as part of the development of sustainable farming systems in different ecological
zones of Uganda.
Director, Regional Soil Conservation Unit
Nairobi, August 1995
Map 1. The main physical features of Uganda
Most of the material for this book was gathered by A.B. Katende over many years of
work on the taxonomy and other aspects of trees and their uses in Uganda and during
a period of extensive travel in Uganda specifically for this book. Discussions were held
with people knowledgable on trees and shrubs, among whom were many farmers and
pastoralists. In fact, most of the information in this book derives from rural people in
East Africa who have enthusiastically shared their knowledge with us.
Special thanks go to M. Kayondo, Principal Forest Officer, and J.R. Kamugisha,
Forest Officer, both of the Uganda Forest Department, who liaised between RSCU
and Mr Katende. Thanks are also due to the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Makerere
University, who made a Faculty car available for the field work, and to the Head of
the Botany Department who gave permission for Mr Katende to work on this book.
Much of the text and many illustrations are from RSCU's companion volumes for
Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Several people contributed to the production of those
books and we acknowledge their contributions to this volume covering Uganda.
The majority of the plant illustrations are original drawings by Ann Birnie, many
taken from Trees of Kenya by T. Noad and A. Birnie. Other drawings have been done
specially for this book, both from fresh material and from dried specimens either at
Makerere University Herbarium, Kampala, or at the East African Herbarium, Nairobi.
Margaret Nagawa and David N. Kato, both Kampala artists, contributed to these
drawings. Louise Gull in Nairobi contributed four drawings and those of the following
species were originally published in the children's magazine Rainbow (Stellagraphics
Ltd., Nairobi): Ricinus communis, Senecio hadiensis, Senna didymobotrya, Solanecio
mannii and Vernonia auriculifera. A few drawings have been taken from Plants in
Zanzibar and Pemba by R.O. Williams and Kenya Trees and Shrubs by I.R. Dale and
P.J. Greenway. More have been used from the earlier volume, Indigenous Trees of the
taken from Know Your Trees by A.E.G. Storrs. Unfortunately, it has not been possible
to view the important timber trees of the Uganda forests in their natural setting, nor,
within the limitations of this book, to illustrate their towering and majestic forms.
We acknowledge with thanks the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for permission to
use several illustrations that appear in the published family volumes of the Flora of
original publishers. RSCU would also like to acknowledge the other sources of
material listed in the bibliography.
Staff of the East African Herbarium at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi
were most helpful in availing specimens from their collection to facilitate the drawing
of the illustrations. They were also extremely helpful in providing taxonomic
information. The Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association assisted us with confirmation of
species that are known to be nitrogen fixing.
Thanks are due to Yasmin Kalyan who cheerfully and tirelessly entered the first
draft on computer.
Finally, a word of thanks to the Swedish tax payer who, through SIDA, provided
the funds necessary for the production of this handbook.
Map 2. The administrative regions and main towns of Uganda
Uganda is the richest of the East African countries in terms of biodiversity, and even
in a global context it is regarded as one of one of the important centres of biodivers-
• Sudano-Congolean (north)
• Somali-Maasai (north-east)
• Guinea-Congolean (west, south-west)
• Afro-montane (mountains)
• Transition (north-western)
• Lake Victoria basin (regional mosaic).
Although there are not many species that are strictly endemic to the country, the
flora is still of great importance because of its major contribution to regional
endemism. The Western Rift Valley, as well as the areas around Lakes Edward and
Victoria, m u c h of which are within Uganda, are particularly important as many
species that occur here are not found anywhere else in the world.
Climatic and physical conditions vary a great deal within short distances in
Uganda. Areas at higher altitudes have reliable rainfall that can support montane rain
forests and most areas of the country have sufficient rainfall to support agriculture,
A large p r o p o r t i o n of the land area is n o w under cultivation.
Reconstructed vegetation maps of Uganda indicate that before the advent of settled
agriculture, a considerable part of the land surface was covered by forest and all the
rest of the country was covered with thicket or wooded savanna, except Karamoja
where the nature of the original vegetation is uncertain.
Large parts of the country are influenced by their proximity to lakes, of which
Lake Victoria is the largest. Near the lakes the climate is warm and humid. A 50-80
km belt around Lake Victoria is believed to have been covered by lowland rain forests
prior to the introduction of agriculture. Other areas believed to have been covered by
forests are a strip along the shoulders of the Western Rift Valley in western Uganda
and the tops of the mountains all over the country.
The people of Uganda are heterogeneous and traditions vary significantly from one
part of the country to another. There are many ethnic groups, all with their o w n
languages. Land-use practices also differ a great deal, not only because of different
ecological conditions but also due to socio-cultural differences.
In the late 1970s, the age-old practices of agroforestry and community forestry
began to be given due attention in development efforts world-wide. During those
years, and up to the mid-1980s, most efforts were concentrated on trying to alleviate
the fuelwood problem by intensified tree planting, but due to the political turmoil in
Map 3. The main vegetation zones of Uganda
Uganda little support was provided by the Government to farmers during those years.
More recently, however, numerous projects have been aimed at supporting and
developing local farmers' tree-growing efforts.
Forestry has been important in Uganda since colonial times. Makerere University
has a well-established Faculty of Forestry which had been the leading centre for
forestry studies in East Africa prior to the establishment of universities in Kenya and
Tanzania. Logging and sawmilling were important activities in colonial times and have
recently grown in importance once more. Management of soft-wood plantations with
exotic species received much attention, while indigenous forests were subject to
harvesting but given less attention in terms of sustainable management. Forestry
activities in the indigenous forests have constituted a threat to biodiversity, and several
valuable forest species have become rare and threatened.
Gradually officers in development projects world-wide, as well as researchers, have
come to realize that the priorities of farm families often differ from those project
designers initially anticipate. It is now felt that development agendas must be worked
out with the rural people concerned if the projects are to give sustainable results.
Methods such as diagnosis and design (D&D) developed by ICRAF, and PRA
participatory rural appraisal (PRA) by the International Institute for Environment and
Development are promoted. All these methods are based on development workers'
awareness that the local people always have a wealth of knowledge that needs to be
the focal point of efforts to improve agroforestry or tree growing in general.
All too often, however, development workers, whether foreign or national, do not
communicate effectively with local people on issues related to trees. There is often a
language barrier if the two groups do not have a common set of names for the trees
and shrubs that they deal with. Even if English is understood by many people in
Uganda, there are obvious limitations to communicating in that language when
discussing,the details of a land-use system. Recognition of this communication gap
between extension workers and farmers, the need to regard local farmer's experience
as a focal point in any efforts to improve land use, and the importance of utilizing and
preserving tree biodiversity in Uganda were the underlying concepts for this book.
Up-to-date literature on trees was available to few people in Uganda during the
colonial period. Most of the relevant books are now long since out of print and found
almost exclusively in libraries of Government institutions in Kampala and London.
Thus we felt that a new handbook on trees would be useful for a large number of
people such as extension workers, teachers, students, foresters and other land-use
managers. An effort has been made to avoid technical language so as to make the book
accessible to as wide a range of readers as possible.
Determining which of all the tree and shrub species found in Uganda should be
included and which omitted was a difficult task. Based on the authors' knowledge
coupled with farmer's knowledge obtained during extensive field visits and consulta-
tions, certain species have emerged as being important to many groups of people.
During the selection process both indigenous and exotic species have been considered,
and it was also decided to include a few species which are not strictly trees but giant
herbs or grasses, e.g. bamboos, Agave sisalana and banana. Some tree species have been
included because of their ecological value or due to their potential forestry value
although they may not be of prime importance for local communities. Many of these
are tropical rain forest species. A few other species have been included because they
are potentially useful but becoming very rare and close to extinction due to over
exploitation or other habitat changes.
The average farmer in Uganda seldom uses the English or Latin names for the trees
and shrubs that he is familiar with; the local languages are still most commonly used
and will continue to be for a long time. Old people often have much more knowledge
about the trees and shrubs of their areas than the younger generation. Therefore it is
important that researchers and development workers wishing to elicit information
about local plants use the vernacular names that will be familiar to the older people
in the local community. When this handbook was developed, therefore, it was decided
to include as many vernacular names as possible, although there are some areas of the
country that have been poorly covered so far in this respect and where further
research is needed.
species is given, followed by an indication of where it grows in Uganda and, where
possible, information on the altitudinal range, preferred climatic and soil conditions,
Trees and shrubs provide a wide range of benefits to man, both in terms of products
such as timber or medicine and services such as shade or soil improvement. Such
information has been summarized for each species under this heading. It must be
stressed, however, that these are reported uses, i.e. what the local people say they use
these plants for and it has not been possible to verify the accuracy of all such reports.
In addition, the known uses of a particular species may vary from one part of the
country to another, or even from one community to another, and therefore it is
always necessary to verify these uses with the local people.
It must also be understood that the species cannot be grown for all of the possible
uses simultaneously. On the contrary, management of a species often aims at
optimizing or maximizing a specific product or service.