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Trema orientalis - (L.) Blume

Common Name Charcoal Tree
Family Cannabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist forests, dry scrub of open slopes at elevations of 400 - 1,900 metres in southern China[266 ]. Open places on hillsides at elevations of 200 - 1,200 metres in Nepal[272 ].
Range E. Asia - Indian subcontinent, southern China, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesi
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Trema orientalis Charcoal Tree

Trema orientalis Charcoal Tree
Dinesh Valke from Thane, India wikimedia.org


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Trema orientalis, also known for various common names such as Charcoal Tree, African Elm, Tree Peach, ands Woolly Cedar, is a tropical flowering tree growing about 10 m in height and 20 cm in trunk diameter. It is commonly found in East Asia. It is very fast-growing and has an extensive root system that enables it to survive drought conditions. The leaves are heart-shaped, rough, hairy when young, and have fine teeth along the edges. The flowers are small and green occurring in short dense bunches. Fruits are small, black, and round. Medicinally, the plant is used for coughs, sore throat, asthma, bronchitis, gonorrhea, yellow fever, toothache, poisons, and dysentery. The leaves and fruits are edible. Charcoal tree is mainly used in agroforestry. It is planted as a shade tree in plantations, and used as a pioneer species and for soil reclamation and conservation. Fiber obtained from the bark is used for making cords and ropes. The bark also yields black and brown dye. The leaves and bark contain saponin and tannin. The wood is soft and not durable, hence used in manufacturing panel products, panel and drumsticks, for paper and pulp production, and as firewood and for charcoal production.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Trema orientalis is an evergreen Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Celtis discolor Bongn. Celtis guineensis Schum. & Thonn. Celtis madagascariensis Bojer Celtis orient

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

The leaves and fruit are reported to be eaten in the Democratic Republic of Congo[303 ].

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.
Antiasthmatic  Antidote  Antitussive  Dysentery  Malaria  Odontalgic  Parasiticide  Vermifuge

The plant is vermifuge, and is known to have anti-plasmodium properties[303 ]. Both bark and leaf decoctions are used as a gargle, inhalation, drink, lotion, bath or vapour bath for coughs, sore throat, asthma, bronchitis, gonorrhoea, yellow fever, toothache[303 ]. The leaves are reported to be a general antidote to poisons[303 ]. A bark infusion is drunk to control dysentery[303 ]. A tea made from small pieces of the roasted wood is used to treat dysentery[46 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Biomass  Charcoal  Dye  Fibre  Fodder  Fodder  Fuel  Mulch  Paper  Parasiticide  Pioneer  Soil conditioner  Soil reclamation  Soil stabilization  String  Tannin  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Charcoal tree has a wide range of applications in agroforestry. It is often planted as a shade tree in coffee and cocoa plantations and also in other crops in Asia and Africa[303 ]. A common pioneer species, it is among the first trees to establish in clearings, on flood-damaged riverbanks, and also colonizes denuded poor soils[303 ]. The tree regenerates profusely through its numerous seeds and grows rapidly, so it is a common colonizer of disturbed rainforest areas[303 ]. It is widely planted for soil reclamation in southern Asia[200 ]. It grows rapidly on disturbed soil so helps in soil conservation[303 ]. The mulch is used to improve the soil. The tree is common as a fallow species in shifting cultivation[303 ]. Charcoal tree can serve as reservoirs for populations of defoliating insect pests and thus may put at risk nearby plants of economic value[418 ] Other Uses A fibre obtained from the bark is used for making cords and ropes[46 , 272 , 303 ]. The seed contains a dark green fixed oil[303 ]. The bark yields a black dye[303 ]. A brown dye is obtained from the bark[46 ]. The inner bark is rubbed on ropes to blacken and preserve them[303 ]. A coffee-coloured dye is obtained from the leaves[303 ]. The bark and leaves contain a saponin and tannin[303 ]. The wood is off-white or tinged with pink. It is fine-grained, soft, light and of low durability. It is used in manufacturing panel products, poles and drumsticks[303 ]. An appropriate tropical hardwood for paper and pulp production. Paper made from T. Orientalis has good tensile strength and folding endurance[303 ]. The tree can provide plenty of firewood and excellent charcoal which is even suitable for making gunpowder and fireworks[272 , 303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Nitrogen Fixer  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Fodder: Bank  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Industrial Crop: Fiber  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

Charcoal tree is a plant of the lowland humid tropics, where it can be found at elevations from sea level up to 2,500 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 27°c, but can tolerate 8 - 34°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 4,000mm[418 ]. Grows best in a sunny position[418 ]. Requires a well-drained, sandy soil[266 , 303 ]. Succeeds on a wide range of soils from heavy clay to light sand; tolerating moderate alkalinity and salinity[303 ]. The plant has an extensive root system, which enables it to withstand dry periods[303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[418 ]. A very fast growing tree, attaining a harvestable size for pulpwood in 3 - 4 years[303 ]. It coppices well[303 ]. The tree has an extensive root system that enables it to survive long periods of drought[303 ]. The species is intolerant of fire[303 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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Plant Propagation

Seed - to break dormancy, the seed needs to be stored at 2?c for 3 - 4 months[303 ]. Seeds require a high light intensity for germination. Germination rate is around 30%[303 ]. Seed storage behaviour is uncertain; viability can be maintained for 6 months in hermetic storage at room temperature, after which viability reduces rapidly[303 ]. Cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Ama, Ambaratthi, Anggrung, Bendarong, Buanhonho, Budamuru, Camile, Chakamaanu, Charcoal tree, Chenkolam, Chikan, Fuleti, Gaddanelli, Gio, Gol, Gorklu, Gunpowder tree, Hophaut, Hu day, Indian nettle tree, Jiban, Jibon, Jivani, Jivanti, Kaakamushti, Kapashi, Kargol, Kasisa, Kharkas, Korunhale, Kuray, Lifimbe, M'pelo, M'peso, Mafet, Malantotali, Menarong, Mengkirai, Mgendagenda, Mpesi, Mwezi, Narong paya, Narong, Nonha, Nsakasaka, Paw fan, Paw hek, Paw teng, Peci, Pigeonwood, Quere, Ranambada, Ratthi, Rubta-kabafar, Sesea, Umbalakacane, Umphahla, Umudoboori, afefe, aisie, andrareza, andreze, andrezina, angezoka, bogwood, bois d'andreze, bois malgache, camile, ehuogo, fuleti, gedumba, hophout, ifamu, iphubane, isikhwelamfene, kambombo, lifimbe, m'pelo, mbaranyungu, mehinde, mocheluquale, modutu, molutu, movukuvuku, mpesi, mpukupuku, mubutibuti, muethu, mufeteti, mugubvura, muhethu, mukurukuru, mululwe, mupethu, muputiputi, musakala, mutiputi, mutumpu, mwesu, nbantini, nsakasaka, osesea, peci, pigeonwood, poponet, rhodesian elm, seazealeba, seazealera, sekye, sesa, sesea, sigungoro, somobra, telem-ukwu, trema, trema leaf, ubathini, umbalakancane, umbalalaqane, umbengebenge, umbengele, umbhangabhanga, umbokhangabokhanga, umcebekhazana, umdindwa, umpakane, umphahlo, umsekeseke, umvangazi, umvumu, uphokane, wadzawadza.

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Found In

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

Gambia; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Côte d'Ivoire; Senegal; Liberia; Ghana; Mali; Burkina Faso; Togo; Benin; Sierra Leone; Nigeria; Cameroon; Chad; Niger; Central African Republic; Sudan; South Sudan; Ethiopia; Somalia; Equatorial Guinea; Sao Tomé and Principe; Uganda; Kenya; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Congo; Gabon; Angola; Namibia; Zambia; Zimbabwe; Madagascar; Tanzania, United Republic of; Swaziland; South Africa; China ; Taiwan, Province of China; India; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam; Australia ; Philippines; Papua New Guinea; New Zealand; New Caledonia; Solomon Islands; Fiji; Tonga; Guam; Northern Mariana Islands; Timor-Leste; Cook Islands; United States; Vanuatu; Réunion; Malawi, Africa, Andamans, Angola, Asia, Australia, Benin, Bhutan, Burma, Cameroon, Central Africa, China, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, East Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Northeastern India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Reunion, Rwanda, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo,Tonga, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Africa, Yemen, 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.

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.


Expert comment


(L.) Blume

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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