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Cynometra alexandri - C.H.Wright

Common Name Uganda ironwood, Muhimbi
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rain forest on firm ground; usually gregarious; at elevations from 700 - 1,200 metres[ 328 ].
Range Tropical Africa - DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Cynometra alexandri Uganda ironwood, Muhimbi

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Cynometra alexandri Uganda ironwood, Muhimbi
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Found in tropical lowland forests of central and east Africa, Uganda Ironwood or Muhimbi (Cynometra alexandri) is a legume that reaches up to 50 m in height. It is characterized by a wide, flat-topped crown and straight, cylindrical bole that can be branchless for up to 26 m. The bole is usually 20-150 cm in diameter with extensive thin buttresses near the base. It is highly valued for its timber. The heartwood is resistant to termite damage and is used in heavy-duty flooring, construction, marine work and railway sleepers. It is also used for fuel and charcoal-making.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Cynometra alexandri is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cynometra sankuruensis Vermoesen

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Fuel  Soil conditioner  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The tree is used for soil conservation[ 364 ]. Other Uses: The tree is harvested from the wild for its wood which is used locally and also traded. Known in the trade as 'Ugandan Ironwood', it is a heavy timber of some importance[610]. It is sometimes planted as an amenity tree to provide shade[364]. The heartwood is a dull reddish-brown with darker markings; it is clearly defined from the greyish sapwood, which turns pale yellow upon exposure. The texture is fine; the grain is usually interlocked; without lustre; sometimes figured. The wood is very heavy and hard, being very resistant to abrasion; the heartwood is rated as durable and highly resistant to termite attack. It dries slowly, with a tendency to surface and end checking, but with little warp. It is fairly difficult to work with hand and machine tools; has a rather severe blunting effect on cutters; turns very well; has moderate steam-bending properties. It is used for purposes such as industrial and heavy-duty flooring, heavy construction including marine work, railroad crossties, mining props, posts etc[ 316 , 364 , 610 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[ 364 ]. Due to its physical properties, such as bending strength, inter-node distance, and leaf surface area, the Muhimbi is favoured by chimpanzees for their daily construction of sleeping platforms or 'nests'.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

They grow gregariously in drier forest types and as a constituent of swamp forests.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation


Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Uganda Ironwood or Muhimbi (Cynometra alexandri).

Central and east Africa.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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