The Mulanje cedar, declared the national tree of Malawi by the late Malawi president Hastings Kamazu Banda (3) (5), is considered a very valuable timber, important to socio-economic development (6). It is a tall, impressive, wide-crowned forest tree with a long straight trunk (4), often branchless up to a height of about 21 meters, making it useful for timber (2). Like the other three Widdringtonia species native to Africa, or 'African cypresses', this tree is referred to as a 'cedar' (7), possibly for the aromatic, cedar-like odour of its wood (2), but is actually completely unrelated to true cedars (7). As with many other species in the cypress family, Widdringtonia species have different juvenile and adult foliage. While seedlings have needle-like leaves arranged spirally around a stem, adults possess scale-like leaves, arranged in opposite pairs at right angles to one another, pressed tightly against the stem (7) (8).
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