T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Hagenia abyssinica (African redwood)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked):        Angiosperms
(Unranked):        Eudicots
(Unranked):        Rosids
Order:     Rosales
Family:  Rosaceae
Subfamily:    Rosoideae
Tribe:        Sanguisorbeae
Subtribe:      Agrimoniinae
Genus:    Hagenia
Species: H. abyssinicaSynonyms include Banksia abyssinica, Brayera anthelmintica, Hagenia abyssinica var. viridifolia and Hagenia anthelmintica.
Binomial name: Hagenia abyssinica 
Common names: African redwood, brayera, cusso, hagenia 

Hagenia abyssinica is the sole species of genus Hagenia. It is a species of flowering plant native to the high-elevation Afromontane regions of central and eastern Africa. It also has a disjunct distribution (one in which two closely related taxa are widely separated geographically) in the high mountains of East Africa from Sudan and Ethiopia in the north, through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania, to Malawi and Zambia in the south. It is generally found from 2000-3000 m elevation, in areas receiving 1000-1500 mm of rainfall annually. 
It is a very rare plant in New Zealand and is seldom found growing. An adult tree is growing in the grounds of Burgess Park, New Plymouth. 
Hagenia abyssinica is a dioecious tree up to 20 m in height, with a trunk with thick peeling bark. The trees have either male or female flowers. Flowering and seeding can be observed throughout the year with a break in the months with the coldest temperatures. 
Hagenia abyssinica is an important medicinal plant in Africa that societies relied on for generations for combating various ailments. Hagenia has been used as a remedy for intestinal parasites. It has served as an anathematic in ruminants also against tapeworms in humans. Besides being a source of medicine, Hagenia has been utilized for various other purposes such as construction, furniture, fuel wood, and soil fertility management. As a result of its enormous significance, H. abyssinica is one of the endangered tree species in its country of origin due to overexploitation.

For more on the ethnomedicinal uses of Hagenia abyssinica visit: http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/6/1/20/

The underside of the leaves.

Closeup showing the hairy underside of the leaf.
The serrated margin of the leaf.

The flakey bark of the trunk.