Botanical Name: Croton
Common Name: Mukinduri
Trade Name: Croton
General Information: This tree is indigenous to Kenya and has a spreading upper-story flattish crown and horizontal layers of branches. The tree grows up to a height of 35m or more and can be grown from an altitude of 900m – 2100m.
Habitat: These trees are found in dry upland areas, evergreen or semi-deciduous forests, moist upland forests, dense woodland and scattered tree grasslands.
Flowers: Pale yellow and in hanging spikes up to 25cm long, short-lived but conspicuous (only appearing after heavy rains), these flower buds are small with a pale brown complexion and visible for many following months. The flowers are mostly male producing pollen, the few female flowers at the base of the stalk become the fruit.
Seeds: Prolific grayish woody capsules about 2.5cm in diameter with compartments for 3 flattened seeds. These seeds nuts contain oil and protein – both of which are coveted by birds and squirrels.
Leaves: The leaves of this tree vary broadly, but can be generally described as elliptic, growing up to 12cm long but often smaller. The apex tapers off and the stalk is thin at about 6cm long. Their soft dull green upper surface contrasts strongly with the pale silvery underside which is flecked with small pale brown scales.
Bark: Dark grey, rough and cracking.
Uses: Widely planted as a provider of shade. However, the older branches are rather brittle with extensive leaf fall. Their wood is often used as firewood, but the smoke can be irritating to the eyes. They are also used for generic timber structures, poles and support. The tree is also good for providing water drainage.
Medical: Young twigs and buds are ground and soaked in water to create an infusion that is taken as a remedy for intestinal worms and to relieve whooping cough.
Propagation: Young trees are hardy and fast growing on forest soil by seedlings, wildings or direct sowing. Their germination rate is between 30% to 80%.