Damas, Ghalab (Som).
Conocarpus lancifolius is not indigenous to Kenya, but is a well known riverine tree in Somalia. It reaches large sizes along the Juba and Shebelli Rivers and many of the seasonal streams found in central and northern Somalia. According to the late Mr. Jan Gillett, long curator of the East Africa Herbarium, it is one of the fastest growing trees there, producing large quantities of firewood. It also provides strong poles and timber, useful for housing construction. Trees are useful for stabilizing riverbanks and improving poor, nutrient-deficient soil; and as ornamental shade trees and windbreaks around irrigated farms. An interesting project, started by Rene de Haller at Baobab Farms, north of Mombasa, has Casuarina equisetifolia growing on an old coral rock base in a planned, mixed stand with C. lancifolius. Growth has been impressive and so too, the production of topsoil from leaf fall, though research indicates that C. equisetifolia is a stronger pioneer species. Damas is a good fodder for goats and camels as well, so it must be protected when small.
| Preferred Climate Type
Conocarpus lancifolius thrives in hot, dry riverine settings such as found in northeast Kenya. Once its room system is established, it will survive on as little as 100mm rainfall in deep sandy soils. Growth is slow on dry sites, and it must have a high water table. It tolerates flooding, saline conditions, sand, clay and very shallow soils over coral rock. Trees thrive from Mombasa to the streets of Mandera and Rhamu in Mandera District. It may grow at higher altitudes, but this has not been confirmed. (Kwale, Lamu, Wajir: Zone III, 1; IV, 1; VI, 1; VII, 1.)
Seeds are very small and difficult to extract from their covers. The illustration is of the fruit which contains 20-100 potentially germinating seeds. These fruits usually ripen, during the rainy season and fall from the tree. Natural regeneration occurs when the fruit falls during a flood. They are carried to a pool or the stream bank, where they germinate in that very moist environment; the roots chase the water down as it receeds, after the flood. To imitate this, Baobab Farms floats seed in a small tray with water and soil sloped to one end. The seeds germinate in the water and as the roots lengthen they catch the soil. Once large enough they are pricked into standard nursery pots where they are kept until large enough for transplanting.. C. lancifolius produces seeds prolifically, from an early age. Fresh seed is essential as viability is quite short.