Tree Species
Myrianthus arboreus P. Beauv.
Taxonomy
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Properties

Botanic
Myrianthus arboreus is a dioecious tropical tree up to 15 m high with spreading branches from a short stem. Usually has stilt roots. Trunk short, dividing into a spreading crown. Leaves very large, alternately shaped, 5-7 digitately compound, coarsely toothed, with hood like stipules the central leaflet is about 25 x 9 cm. Young leaves are usually red in colour. Male inflorescences yellow, much branched and panicle like are produced in large axillary pairs in the latter part of the dry season. The female inflorescences are paired, stalked greenish clusters (pedunculate), each flower with a thick curled style projecting out of the fused calyx, and a basal ovule. Fruit a syncarp of basally fused, yellow false drupes up to 10 cm, with stylar remains projecting from each drupe. The generic name Myrianthus refers to the great number of flowers borne on the inflorescences, the specific name means ‘tree like’. Some authors place the genera Myrianthus and Musanga in a separate family, Cecropiaceae.
Biology
The primates Cercopithecus nictitans, C. neglectus and Galago alleni contribute to seed dispersal. Seed ingestion improves germination in M. arboreus. M. arboreus is dioecious.
Soil Suitability
Prefers damp soils.
Habitat
M. arboreus is found in forest and damp places.

Cultivation and Marketing

Propagation
Propagation is by direct seeding.
Management
Germplasm
Uses and Function
Reclamation: Can be planted in damp/ swampy soils. Nitrogen fixing: Has the ability to improve nitrogen levels due to its mycorrhizal associations. Soil improver: Leaf litter of M. arboreus improves soil fertility.
Food: The sweet pulp around the seeds is edible and the young leaves are eaten as a vegetable. Timber: The wood may be used for general purposes. Medicine: M. arboreus has various medicinal uses in Africa, including the treatment of dysentery and diarrhoea with bark infusions. Seeds are used for boils. The bark decoction is adminstered for diabetes. Other medicinal uses are for headaches, swellings and tumours. Poison: M. arboreus extracts deter the termite R. lucifugus. Other products: M. arboreus potash is used for soap making.