Old trees often resembling poplars
A tree up to 80 ft. high, stem up to 4 ft. diam., frequently only as a shrub
Fruit up to 2–5 cm. long, obovoid to subglobose.
Staminodes c. 3 mm. long, oblong in outline, the apex irregularly laciniate.
Corolla c. 6 mm. long, with tube c. 1·5 mm. long, white to creamy yellow; median segments c. 4 mm. long, narrowly elliptic, lateral segments a little shorter, narrowly triangular.
Calyx c. 5 mm. long, sepals ± elliptic.
Flowers clustered in leaf axils, with pedicels c. 1 cm. long.
Leaves coriaceous, exstipulate or with subulate stipules soon falling, not clustered at ends of branches. Leaf lamina 7–14 x 2·–5–7 cm., obovate to oblong, the apex obtuse to cuspidate–acuminate, the base cuspidate; petiole 1–4 cm. long. Upper leaf surface glabrous; midrib slightly impressed, vein reticulation very fine. Lower surface with dense appressed indumentum of minute hairs giving a silvery sheen; midrib prominent, lateral nerves inconspicuous.
Stamen-filaments up to 3.5 mm. long, flattened; anthers up to 2.5 mm. long; staminodes oblong to ± linear, irregularly laciniate.
Ovary subglobose, densely pilose, 9–11-locular; style up to 6 mm. long; stigma minutely papillate.
Corolla white; tube ±1.5 mm. long; lobes trifid; outer segments linear-lanceolate, up to 5 mm. long; median segment narrowly elliptic, up to 4.5 mm. long.
The species as here accepted is widespread and includes a number of smaller geographical segregates. Characters such as degree of laciniation and number of segments of staminodes, and minor differences in leaf-size, which previously have been used to distinguish species, have proved impossible to work within the range of material now available. The tree yields a useful timber, known as Nkunya in Uganda, which is very hard and durable in the ground (see Uganda For. Dept. Timber Leaflet No. 3). A single sterile gathering from the E. Usambara Mts. may possibly extend the species range into E. Tanganyika (see under imperfectly known species No. 1, page 73).
Fruits incompletely known, yellow when ripe, said to be edible, obovoid to subglobose, up to 2.5 cm. long.
Leaf-lamina thinly to thickly coriaceous, obovate (rarely obovate-oblong), 3–10(–17) cm. long, l.6–5.5(–7.2) cm. wide, apex rounded or emarginate, rarely subacute, cuneate; upper surface fresh green, glabrous, lower surface paler, drying to a brownish-grey, appearing glabrescent; primary lateral nerves raised, arcuate, very fine and hairlike.
Flowers fascicled in axils of older or fallen leaves.
Pedicels 4–10 mm. long, with appressed brownish hairs.
Calyx-lobes slightly connate at base; outer lobes ± ovate to ovate-oblong, up to 6 mm. long and 3.5 mm. wide, with brownish pubescence externally; inner lobes slightly narrower and with little pubescence externally.
Medium-sized to tall tree with long clean and slightly fluted bole and buttressed base, height up to 35 m.; bark pale grey to dark brownish-grey, fissured and rough.
Young branchlets (from crown) deep purplish-brown with pale lenticels, glabrous. Scars of fallen leaves prominent, sometimes raised and peg-like.
Leaves clustered towards apices of branchlets.