Mkilua fragrans

Where is this tree found?

This small tropical tree is distributed across Kenya and Tanzania. It is found in the Coastal Forests Biodiversity Hotspot of Eastern Africa, where 43% of the roughly 4,050 plant species are endemic. Mkilua fragrans is found in several forest reserves – Witu, Mrima, Kwamgumi and Rondo, in sacred kaya forests – Muhaka, Kinondo and Chale, and in the Shimba Hills National Reserve and Mafia Marine Park.

Mkilua fragrans is in a single member genus – meaning that it is the only species in that genus, which was named after its name in Swahili, ‘Mkilua’. The essential oil from this tree has traditionally been used in the perfumery of local communities in Kenya. Recently, this essential oil has been found to have antifungal properties.

Why save this tree?

Most of the sites where this species occurs are not in protected areas and are under direct threat from agriculture, charcoal production and development projects. M. fragrans is reported to be relatively common where it occurs, but the population is declining due to the fragmentation of remaining coastal forests. It is estimated that this species is now only found in 10 locations. Saving this tree species will provide an exciting opportunity to enhance the livelihoods of local communities through the sustainable harvesting of the essential oil.

How to save this species

Survey work will be carried out in remaining coastal forest fragments to determine if other populations of this species exist and to identify community partners. Propagation material will be collected and propagation protocols will be developed so that community nurseries can be established. Experimentation will begin on techniques for the extraction of the essential oil of this tree. Areas for restoration planting will be identified, along with any additional species for restoration. Seedlings will be planted in community homesteads and community-based oil extraction facilities will be established along with the expansion of the propagation and restoration programme.

$ 0
cost to save the species
0 years
duration of the project

A systematic, cost-effective, and rational approach

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Establish community plantations

Establish community plantations of Mkilua fragrans for essential oil extraction and community benefits

Identify propagation protocols

Identify the best propagation practices and essential oil extraction techniques for this species

Establish distillation coops

Set up local distillation coops based on this species

Restoration planting

Restore indigenous forest patches along the coast that would have included this species and many other threatened tree species

Ex situ plantings

Ensure the species is backed up in genetically representative ex situ collections as an insurance policy against future extinction

Awareness raising activities

Establish an education programme focused on the ornamental, economic and conservation value of the threatened trees of the coastal forest

Partners for Mkilua fragrans

Sponsors for Mkilua fragrans