Africa’s tallest tree to be listed as tourist must-see

The 81.5-metre “Entandrophragma excelsum” (African mahogany) sits on one of the foothills of yet Africa’s tallest mountain.

Africa’s tallest indigenous tree – measuring 81.5 metres

The 81.5-metre “Entandrophragma excelsum” (African mahogany) sits on one of the foothills of yet Africa’s tallest mountain, the world-famous Mountain Kilimanjaro.

Said Sadiki, Kilimanajaro Regional Commissioner, said he would lead a team of regional senior officials on the tour to tree’s location to pave way for its pending launch and international publicity.

“This is one of the untapped products, when it comes towards promoting it so that it lures more visitors as other tourist destinations do,” the official said.

The approximately 600-year-old tree matches Africa’s previous tree-height record established by a specimen of the introduced Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna) in Limpopo, South Africa.

The previous South African record-holder died in 2006, making the Tanzania’s the reigning tree when it comes to height.

If well marketed by the Tanzania Tourist Board, the attraction is likely to turn into a cash cow for the country.

It was first spotted by Andreas Hemp of the University of Bayreuth in Germany, a researcher who was exploring Mount Kilimanjaro’s vegetation some 20 years ago.

The unusual height of a bunch of trees he saw aroused his curiosity but it was not until recently that his team was able to measure their heights accurately using new tools.

Hemp and his team measured 32 specimens with laser instruments between 2012 and 2016, finding that the 10 tallest individuals ranged from 59.2 to 81.5 metres in height and 0.98 to 2.55 metres in diameter.

Hemp estimates from growth rates that the arboreal behemoths are between 500 and 600 years old.

According to records, the world’s tallest trees are not normally found in Africa.

The world record holder, a 116-metre-tall sequoia tree is found in North America and in second position is a 100-metre-tall eucalyptus in Australia.

Scientists believe that Africa’s poor show in the world’s tallest tree list may be attributed to both a shortage of studies in the continent and the limited resources that prevent them from getting too tall.

They say this is not the case with Kilimanjaro area known to have nutrient-rich volcanic soils, high temperatures and precipitation that may have helped drive the growth of Africa’s tallest tree.

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