Cordia africana (Boraginaceae) in Ethiopia: A review on its taxonomy, distribution, ethnobotany and conservation status
Getu Alemayehu, Zemede Asfaw, Ensermu Kelbessa
The purpose of the review paper is to review existing literature on ethnobotanical knowledge of Cordia africana to assist in the proper utilization, management and conservation of the species. Cordia africana which belongs to the family of Boraginaceae is a deciduous forest tree widely distributed from South Africa to Saudi Arabia and Yemen at altitudes between 550 - 2600 m.a.s.l. and with an annual rainfall of 700 - 2000 mm. It occurs in primary or secondary forests and woodlands. In Ethiopia, it grows well in the dry, moist and wet weyna dega agro-ecological zone. Cordia africana has various uses as medicine, fodder, food, fuelwood, for making of juices and materials for culturale use. It is one of the most important indigenous tree species for making a variety of items used by the communities. It provides very good mulch and can be used in other mixed cropping systems on cropland, pastureland, to improve microclimatic conditions. Cordia africana is a forage tree for honeybees and flowers between March and October. Beehives are often hung on Cordia africana tree. It is therefore good for beekeeping and honey production. Cordia africana is also a source of excellent high-value timber that is suitable for furniture, mortars, windows and house doors. It is one of the major timber species in Ethiopia that have been exploited commercially. It plays an important role in generating local household income from the sale of products and conserving biodiversity. Business obtained from timber production severely accelerated the high rate exploitation of Cordia africana. It is locally threatened and is given protection by proclamation (Government of Ethiopia, Proclamation No. 94/1994). It is now managed by some farmers in their farmland as agroforestry tree, such management and acquisition of economic benefits from the species might promote local peoples' interest in conservation.