African Teak
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African Teak
D Introduced Photo: Ashutosh Sharma
Common name: African Teak
Botanical name: Milicia excelsa    Family: Moraceae (Mulberry family)
Synonyms: Chlorophora excelsa, Morus excelsa, Chlorophora alba

African Teak is a large deciduous tree growing up to 50 m tall. The trunk is bare lower down with the first branch usually at least 20 m above the ground. It often has several short buttress roots at the base. The bark is pale or dark gray, thick but little fissured, and if it gets damaged it oozes milky latex. There are a few thick branches in the crown all fairly horizontal giving an umbrella shape. The smaller branches hang down in female trees and curve up in male trees. The leaves are 5-10 cm long, ovate or elliptical with a finely toothed edge, green and smooth above and slightly downy beneath. Older leaves turn yellow, and all of the leaves have a prominent rectangular mesh of veins visible on the underside. The trees are dioecious. Male trees have white catkins that extend 15-20 cm and dangle from twigs at the axils of the leaves. Female trees have flower spikes measuring 5-6 cm long by 2 cm wide, green with prominent styles. The fruit are long, wrinkled and fleshy with the small seeds embedded in the pulp. African Teak is native ot Tropical Africa, cultivated elsewhere.

Identification credit: N Arun Kumar, Ashutosh Sharma Photographed in cultivation at FRLHT (TDU) Garden, Bengaluru.

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