Growth Performance of Domesticated Prunus africana Population in Muguga, Kiambu County, Kenya
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Prunus africana (Hook. f.) is an evergreen tree that grows in African mountains. The species’ bark and bark extracts are used for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia. High demand for the bark and bark extracts has led to overexploitation of natural population of the species. P. africana is listed as an endangered species. Conservation of the species can be done through domestication. However, management and growth factors need to be established first to ensure success of on-farm production. The main objective of this study was to evaluate growth characteristics of trees in the domesticated stand at Muguga. Diameter at breast height was measured using a DBH meter, and tree heights were determined using a Suunto meter. The age and ring width of randomly selected trees was measured using TSAPWinTm which was linked to a computer. Height of trees in the domesticated stand at Muguga ranged from 3 meters to 14 meters and diameter at breast height from 0.9 cm to 104.5 cm. Out of the 273 trees in the plantation, 92 (33%) were fruiting at the time of data collection. The age of trees randomly selected from Muguga population was negatively correlated to growth rate (r=-0.0223, p<0.05). There was a non-significant positive correlation between number of cross section growth rings of the selected trees and the diameter at breast height of the trunk (r2=0.0858, r=0.293, p>0.05). The wood density samples from Muguga population was positively correlated to the tree growth rate (r=0.167). Wood density of cross-section samples from Muguga population showed a non-significant negative correlation to the tree diameter at breast height (r=-0.140, p>0.05). The morphological data has important implications in drawing strategies for sustainable harvesting, management and conservation of this species.