I’ve been sitting on it for a while, but a paper which AoB Blog discussed back in January led me to uncover a whole load of stuff on Prunus africana. The African Cherry Tree does not rate a leaflet in the African Food Tree Species series, perhaps because it’s not a, well, food tree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
Chemicals extracted from the tree’s bark are used in a range of pharmaceutical products to treat enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), an extremely common condition that affects up to half of men aged over 50.
Hence various efforts to develop sustainable harvesting methods. And also an interesting series of diversity and demographic studies:
- Phylogeography of the Afromontane Prunus africana reveals a former migration corridor between East and West African highlands: “The high genetic similarity found between western Uganda and west African populations indicates that a former Afromontane migration corridor may have existed through Equatorial Africa.”
- Structural diversity and regeneration of the endangered Prunus africana (Rosaceae) in Zimbabwe: “…poor regeneration, fewer P. africana trees in small and large size classes, dominance of positive height and diameter differentiation and high mingling.”
- Divergent pattern of nuclear genetic diversity across the range of the Afromontane Prunus africana mirrors variable climate of African highlands: “The observed patterns indicate divergent population history across the continent most likely associated to Pleistocene changes in climatic conditions. The high genetic similarity between populations of West Africa with population of East Africa west of the Eastern Rift Valley … provides further evidence for a historical migration route. Contrasting estimates of recent and historical gene flow indicate a shift of the main barrier to gene flow from the Lake Victoria basin to the Eastern Rift Valley…”
- Modelling the potential distribution of endangered Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkm. in East Africa: “Prunus africana distribution is thus highly vulnerable to a warming climate and highlights the fact that both in-situ and ex-situ conservation will be a solution to global warming.”
Maybe we could do with some more seed behaviour data. But it would seem there is now plenty of diversity, demographic and sustainable harvesting information on which to base a comprehensive conservation strategy. Is someone coming up with one?