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Trichilia dregeana - Sond.

Common Name Cape Mahogany
Family Meliaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The bark is very toxic. It is used in the preparation of fish poison[299 ].
Habitats The transition zone between forest-savannah mosaic and moist evergreen forest, mostly at elevations of 500 - 1,600 metres in the north of its range, but gradually descending to sea level in S. Africa[299 ].
Range Tropical Africa - Cote D'Ivoire to Ethiopia, south to Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe a
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Trichilia dregeana Cape Mahogany

JMK wikimedia.org
Trichilia dregeana Cape Mahogany
JMK wikimedia.org


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Trichilia dregeana or commonly known as Cape Mahogany or Forest Natal Mahogany is a very large, tropical tree about 30 m in height and 100 cm in trunk diameter. The crown is dense and spreading. The trunk has small buttresses and covered with gray, smooth bark. The leaves are dark glossy green with 3-4 pairs of leaflets and a leaflet at the end. The flowers, large and creamy white, occur in leaf axils. The fruits are creamy brown capsules. Medicinally, various plant parts are used in the treatment of lumbago, leprosy, sleeplessness, inflammation, cuts, rheumatism, bruises, eczema, fever, intestinal worms, colds, infertility, dysentery, diarrhea, lumbago, scabies, and back pain caused by kidney problems. The fruits are eaten raw, cooked as a vegetable, or made into a sweet drink or sauce. The seeds are boiled after removing the seed coat which contains toxins. Oil obtained from the seeds are used as a body ointment and in making candles, soaps, and cosmetics. In some areas, Cape Mahogany is grown as shade tree in coffee plantations. The wood is not durable and is susceptible to borer attacks. It is used for indoor furniture, household utensils, shelving, construction, and others. It is also used for fuel and charcoal. Plants are grown from seeds.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Trichilia dregeana is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
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. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Trichilia chirindensis Swynn. Trichilia dregei E.Mey. ex C.DC. Trichilia ledermannii Harms Trichilia

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Fruit - raw or cooked[299 ]. It can be cooked and used as a vegetable, or crushed and made into a sweet drink or sauce[295 , 299 ]. Seed - boiled and eaten as a side dish[299 ]. The seedcoat contains toxins and must be removed before the seed is cooked[295 , 299 ]. The seeds provide an oil that is used for cooking even though it has a bitter flavour[299 ]. The seedcoat is poisonous and only well-prepared oil is safe for consumption[299].

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.
Abortifacient  Antibacterial  Antidiarrhoeal  Antifungal  Antiinflammatory  Antirheumatic  Dysentery  Eczema  
Emetic  Febrifuge  Hypnotic  Infertility  Kidney  Leprosy  Parasiticide  
Poultice  Purgative  Tonic

Throughout Africa the seed oil, leaves, root and bark are used in similar ways uses to those of Trichilia emetica, though they are generally considered to be inferior. They are used to treat a variety of complaints ranging from lumbago to leprosy and sleeplessness[299 ]. A large number of limonoids have been isolated from the seed, especially from the seedcoat. including evodulone and prieurianin derivatives. Limonoids of other plants in this family (Meliaceae) are well known as antifeedants and growth regulators of insects, but they also have some antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities[299 ]. The bark, which is very toxic, contains inhibitors of the prostaglandin-synthesis, which play a role in inflammation and pain suppression[299 ]. The seed oil is rubbed into cuts made in the skin of a fractured limb in order to hasten healing[299 ]. It is used as a massage oil to treat rheumatism and as a general body ointment[299 ]. The fruit has emetic and purgative properties[299 ]. Poultices made of the leaves or fruits are applied to bruises and eczema[299 ]. A decoction of the roots is used as a general tonic; to treat fever; and as a purgative[299 ]. It is also used to induce labour in pregnant women; and to treat intestinal worms, colds and infertility[398 ]. A decoction of the bark is drunk as a purgative or abortifacient, and also to treat dysentery and diarrhoea, fevers and lumbago[299 , 398 ]. The bark is used externally as a treatment against scabies[299 ]. Decoctions of the bark, applied in the form of an enema, are used as a purgative and abortifacient, as well as to treat back pain caused by kidney problems[299].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Cosmetic  Essential  Fuel  Furniture  Hair  Lighting  Oil  Parasiticide  Soap making  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The tree is grown to provide shade for coffee plantations, or is left standing as a shade tree when the forest is cleared[299 ]. Other Uses The seeds contain 55 - 65% oil. This is used as a body ointment and hair oil, as well as to make candles, soap and cosmetics[295 , 299 ]. The approximate fatty acid composition of the oil is: palmitic acid 34%, stearic acid 3%, oleic acid 51%, linoleic acid 11%, linolenic acid 1%[299 ]. To obtain the oil, the seeds are first ground into a powder and pounded, they are then boiled in water and the oil is skimmed off[299 ]. The heartwood is pale brown to pink, the sapwood whitish, though the wood darkens with age and exposure. When oiled, it darkens considerably, leaving little difference between the heartwood and sapwood. The grain is generally straight, texture medium coarse, the wood has a distinct figure[299 ]. The wood is not durable and is subject to attack by borers. It is easily worked and polishes well. It is not durable and susceptible to borer attack[299 ]. The wood is particularly important as a material for making carvings, especially in southern Africa, and is also used for indoor furniture, household utensils, shelving, construction, dugout canoes etc[295 , 299 , 398 ]. The wood is used for fuel and for making charcoal[299 , 398 ].

Special Uses


References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics, but avoiding the wetter regions. It is found at elevations from 800 - 2,000 metres near the Equator, but descends to sea level as it enters the subtropics. It is usually found in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 1,500 - 2,500 mm[299 ]. The plant is sensitive to frost, but as long as the damage is not too severe, it recovers easily[299 ]. Succeeds in full sun and dappled to fairly deep shade[295 , 299 ]. Grows best in humus-rich, fertile, moist soils[299 ]. Young trees grow fairly quickly, with a mean annual girth increment of 20 - 25mm[299 ]. Older plants are fast growing and require little or no management[299 ]. Trees growing in open positions start fruiting when about 10 years old, those in more shaded, forest-like conditions may not bear fruit before they are 20 years old[299 ]. The tree is tolerant of fire[299 ]. The tree coppices well. For ornamental purposes, it may be pruned into shrub form[299 ]. Average seed yields per tree in Mozambique are about 20 - 25 kg/year, but in a good year a large tree may produce 180 kg[299 ]. Trees that have produced heavily in one year tend to produce little in the next year[299 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if seed is required.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it is intolerant of being dried and has a short viability, so should be sown as soon as it is ripe. Seed is sometimes sown in situ; if sowing in a nursery seedbed then choose a position with some shade. No pre-treatment is required, but removal of the fleshy outer seedcoat speeds up germination[299 ]. A rich mixture of sandy soil and compost with plenty of moisture is recommended. The seed usually sprouts within 2 - 4 weeks[299 ]. Protect the seedlings from frost[299 ]. Natural reproduction is abundant owing to regular and copious seeding from a fairly early age, comparative immunity from damage by animals and its power of recovery from injury. Seeds germinate during the early rains and seedlings attain a length of 10 - 20cm by the end of the first year[299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Forest mahogany, Gereche, Kamoko, Kampakampaka, Mbamba, Mkungwina, Mnyongayonga, Muchiquiri, Ngolimazi, Sekoba, Uagon, Umkuhlo, aribanda des montagnes, cape-mahogany, christmas-bells, forest mahogany, forest natal-mahogany, forest-mahogany, mafureira, mkungwina, mtimaji, red-ash, sekoba, thundertree.

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Found In

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

Angola; Central African Republic; Cameroon; Ethiopia; Guinea; Côte d'Ivoire; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Rwanda; South Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the, Africa, Angola, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinée, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Southern Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia, Zululand, 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
Trichilia emeticaBanket mahogany, Natal mahogany, Tree15.0 10-12 FLMHSNDM233

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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