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Baikiaea plurijuga - Harms

Common Name Rhodesian Teak, Zambesi Redwood
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Confined to Kalahari sands, where it is often abundant and dominant in lowland tropical forests, often associated with Guibourtia coleosperma and Schinziophyton rautanenii, at elevations around 900 - 1,200 metres[ 308 , 325 ].
Range Southern tropical Africa - Angola; Zambia; Zimbabwe; Botswana; Namibia.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Baikiaea plurijuga Rhodesian Teak, Zambesi Redwood User:Ercé
Baikiaea plurijuga Rhodesian Teak, Zambesi Redwood User:Ercé


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Rhodesian Teak (Baikiaea plurijuga) is a tropical, slow-growing, semi-deciduous tree with a rounded crown and rough and cracked bark. It can reach up to 20 m high with a trunk diameter of up to 120 cm when fully matured. The bark is used for treatment of syphilis and toothache, and in making a fortifying tonic. It is a source of tannins. The large, flat seeds are used as beads in crafting. The wood is heavy, very durable, strong, fine-grained, and resistant to termite attacks thus it is considered as one of the world's finest commercial timbers. It also makes good fuel and is used in charcoal making. The plant is grown through stem cuttings or seed sowing. Other common names are African teak, Mukusi, Zambian teak, and Zambesi redwood. Other Names: African teak, Mukusi, Mukusyi, Muse, Zambezi teak or Zambesi redwood.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Baikiaea plurijuga is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


No synonyms are recorded for this name.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers
Edible Uses:

Edible portion: Flowers.

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.

Locally, the bark is used in medicine[ 325 ]. Decoctions of the bark are used to treat syphilis and to make a fortifying tonic[ 418 ]. An infusion of the bark is gargled to relieve toothache[ 775 ].

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Other Uses

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Other Uses The bark is a source of tannins[ 325 , 349 ]. The large, shiny, brown seeds are strikingly flat. They are used in various crafts and are often combined with other seeds and beads to make necklaces and other adornments[ 775 ]. The heartwood is an attractive reddish-brown with irregular black lines or flecks; it is sharply demarcated from the pale pinkish-brown sapwood. The texture is fine and even; the grain straight or slightly inter-locked; lustre is low; there is no characteristic odor or taste. Moist wood in contact with iron may stain because of the tannin content. The wood is heavy, fine-grained, strong and very durable, with a moderate resistance to termites. A slow-drying wood with little or no degrade. It is rather difficult to saw and machine, with severe blunting of cutters and a gumming of teeth if sawn green; it is excellent for turnery and has good gluing properties. Rated as one of the worlds finest commercial timbers, it is used as a general timber for bridge construction, flooring, railway sleepers, furniture, and is used in certain areas as fencing posts[ 308 , 316 , 325 ]. The wood is little used locally because it is too hard for native tools to cut[ 325 ]. The wood makes a good fuel, producing very hot coals[ 325 ]. It is also used to make charcoal[ 418 ].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of moderate elevations in the drier regions of the tropics, where it is mainly found at elevations between 900 - 1,200 metres[ 308 , 325 ]. Mature trees can withstand extreme temperatures of over 40°c and have been known to survive severe frost down to -15°c[ 325 ]. Plants are frost sensitive[ 418 ]. It is found in areas with a mean annual rainfall of 600 - 1,000mm and a dry season of 6 - 8 months[ 325 ]. Prefers a sunny position[ 418 ]. Grows in the wild in deep, infertile, sandy soils[ 325 ]. Grows best in a well-drained, light to medium soil[ 418 ]. Established plants have a deep tap root and are very drought resistant[ 325 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 5.5, tolerating 4.5 - 6.5[ 418 ]. Coppices well[ 349 ]. The plant suffers adversely from fires in the dry season, and cannot afterwards compete with fast-growing, thorny, colonizer bushes[ 418 ]. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[ 755 ].

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Seed - it can be stored for at least 12 months at room temperature[ 325 ]. Freshly harvested seeds can germinate without pre-treatment, but after drying it may be necessary to scarify the hard seed coat[ 325 ]. The recommended pre-treatment is to soak the seeds in hot water for 2 minutes at 80°c, followed by soaking in cold water for 24 hours[ 325 ]. The seeds are sown directly into deep containers at a sowing depth of 4 - 5 cm. Seed viability is high and 80 - 90% of them germinate within 7 - 25 days[ 325 ]. However, it is difficult to raise seedlings of this species in the nursery because of the long taproot. Just one or two weeks after germination, the tap root will grow below the base of a normal-sized open container and, after 6 months, the seedlings are still only 6 - 7 cm tall but the taproot will have grown 40cm long[ 325 ]. From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall. By air layering. From woody stem cuttings

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Rhodesian Teak (Baikiaea plurijuga). Other common names are African teak, Mukusi, Zambian teak, and Zambesi redwood. Other Names: African teak, Mukusi, Mukusyi, Muse, Zambezi teak or Zambesi redwood.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Found In: Africa, Angola, Botswana, Central Africa, East Africa, Namibia, Southern Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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 : Lower Risk/near threatened

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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Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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