Podocarpus falcatus (P. gracilior)

Podocarpus falcatus (P. gracilior )                         Podocarpaceae

Vernacular names
Am:    Zigba                     Gr:      Zigba
Eng:   Podo                     Or:     Birbirsa

Podocarpus trees are mainly found in the southern hemisphere. These conifers, which have no cones, are related to junipers and are also known as yellow-woods. P. falcatus is a large tree of the semi-humid lower highland forest of the central and eastern Highlands in Moist and Wet Weyna Dega and Dega agroclimatic zones, 1,600-2,500 m.

Uses:  Firewood, poles, timber (furniture, boxes, plywood, panels), medicine (bark), ornamental, shade.

Description:  An evergreen tree with a straight bole to 25 m or more. BARK: Grey to dark brown, cracking and scaling into irregular rectangles.
  LEAVES: Narrow, shiny dark green, 2-5 cm, gradually tapering. Young leaves are larger and brighter, giving a green flush. CONES: 1-3 male catkins, yellow-brown, about 2 cm, female cones hard, rounded to 2 cm, very slow to develop, green with dull purple bloom, outer shell thin but inner flesh eaten by monkeys and birds.

Propagation:     Seedlings, wildings.
Seed:                  No. of seed per kg: 2,100-2.600.
Treatment:         Crack the hard woody seed coat
                                Before sowing.
Storage:         Seed can be stored for up to 2 years.
Management:   Slow growing.
                               Hardy once established.

Remarks:         The species is now rare due to over-exploitation. The wood needs preservatives and careful seasoning to prevent warping (Azene Bekele-Tesemma 1993).

These pictures show native Podocarpus trees near the wild meadow with the farmhouse (39).

Some Podocarpus trees,  found from a much previous era, appear admirably muscular and furrowed around the extensive farmhouse area (39)  just below point  (16), which are a great pleasure for any soul with a passion for Nature. Just here above is the farmhouse (39) with large Juniperus procera trees along its upper hillside. Furthermore, upwards the path turns slightly to the right towards the location  (16), just at the high plateau's outer edge and even here with many incredible stately Juniper trees.

The relationship between the Indigenous trees and their unique appearance.

The Podocarpus tree seed and its stem are considerably longer than the corresponding comparison with the Juniper tree seed and hence higher and more vulnerable to climates and grazing animals. The fact that this tree is related to Juniper appears with clarity, and in this context, difficulties arise with the seed's vulnerability. An unprecedented exposure arises because the two related species have the same peculiarity to lift their seeds from the ground to the height of their crisp stalk. This vulnerability with an exposed uplifted grain applies, particularly to the Podocarpus tree. This species makes this seed presented with utmost sensibility and thus becomes an immediate victim on a hard and away offensive clay-soil crust.

Podocarpus falcatus  (P. gracilior)
The Environment and Biology -

Podocarpus falcatus (P. gracilior)

These sparsely and ancient furrowed remaining Podocarpus trees seem no longer able to give surviving progeny in the barren, eroded, exposed lands - a type of heavily eroding brittle clay crust formed by foreign toxicity since the introduction of the alien eucalyptus tree over a hundred years ago. This tree species is scarce at Entoto and does not appear to compete with the eucalyptus-planted surroundings. This tree has an exposed and sensitive seed-laying design opposite its otherwise healthy, rugged seed coat, including its fruit (cones). Here, its nut-like dry last year's pendants decorate the mighty mother trees with their seed (cones) in ancient-looking packaging that surround and protect the fertile seed and provide inspiring, sophisticated memories from last year's season.  

Nature Restoration

However, much work has been done to re-form an upper soil layer with a protective undergrowth. It would be a very significant surprise to receive information about a new generation of this highly blessed historic tree, which still grows in a magical, graceful and appealing landscape. Pinterest: Planting Saplings

Podocarpus Trees Next to the Paths in Circle (B) 

The intended direction indicator allows a method to be used here with a limited length in the intended dial. With this method, it is also possible to distinguish objects more centrally located on the intended clockwork. The intended pointer clockwork gives direction, and when its outermost tip reaches its full extent at 4:30, it points to a concealed and dense forest area just south of the field (39). Consequently, as this intended pointer reaches 60% of its entire length, and at four o'clock, it becomes possible to find a magnificent native Podocarpus tree to the left of the hiking trail. 

Podocarpus Trees within a Wonderful Highland Landscape

To see several other indigenous Podocarpus trees requires looking just below this field (39 ) and to the right side in the lower part of Circle (B). The easiest way to reach these trees is to use the crossroad, just outside the lower part of the circle (B), where these trees just above appear to hide deeply from a forgotten past. This rather wild and wavy slope is fantastic with several native Podocarpus falcatus trees, which muscularly proudly pose, forgotten from aeons on this hilly southern slope. While this type of orientation assistance is compatible with visitors to foreign habits, other requirements are demanded to fulfil the tradition of the native population, who prefer to use their own orientation in The landscape of the revered past.

The Orientation and Direction Map

to the location of Podocarpus falcatus trees.

Maps & Activities

The Invitation to the trees from the past, Circle (B)
The still, gentle upward hike shown within Circle (B) includes points (35), (38), and (39) and constitutes both crossroads and, with them belonging, somewhat wild paths. This lower circle (B) area also includes a significant but gentle ledge that rises some metres in the hillside and provides a beautiful, charming landscape elevation.

The Canyon and its River give direction in the Circle (B)
Two crossroads are located just to the right of the canyon and its river (35) and one in the lower part of the circle (B). The second crossroad is located to the right, just outside the ring. However, these crossroads align with the lower part of the circle (B). The Italian fortification (38) provides an eastern pointing direction for both crossroads. Regardless, the choice of their following paths will soon contact the continued walk towards higher grounds.


Trees From an Aeon of Natural Wealth

An Evolutionary Legacy of a Lost Era 

This Podocarpus tree carries a unique
heritage that can be very important for
the Park's legacy. The seed of this small
tree was picked from the mother tree in
circle (B), west of the path, left of the
area (39) and clearly above (38). 
Podocarpus falcatus (P. gracilior)

Erosion: Landscape Protection

The Podocarpus Tree and its Ancient Biology

This peculiarity in seed design of setting kernels to sprout with the high lift was developed at the beginning of these trees' era (evolution) and in epochs long before any human culture or species. Through this evolutionary prehistory, these seed stalks and kernels were naturally received with a moist, typically loose and absorbing soil (humus) and a surrounding of dense protective undergrowth that could hide and shield these so tender exposed vertically raised kernel stalks. 

A beautiful memory that attracts modern science and art

With glowing passion and warmth, it is still spoken among the residents of Entoto about when the water level a reasonable time after the rainy season still stood one metre higher in Entoto's deep streams and its enchanting nature rock baths. It is thus quite close to the time when Entoto's mountain massif and its canyons could carry significantly higher water quantity and, therefore, supply the population in the capital with fresh water to a much greater extent.

The Restoration Of Lost Nature

A Precarious and Fragile Task

Science, much time and labour are needed for environmental restoration; this demands massive protection projects to offer the young plants the replacement for the lost biotope and its vital natural protective properties. Hence, restoring a lost biotope is very complicated and requires much work to recreate a reliable substitute for the missing shielding armour of the primaeval forest. Therefore, due to the absence of the essential protective functions of mother trees and other plants, enormous efforts are required to recreate these guardian functions for the tender indigenous seedlings, which otherwise do not survive the very exposed ground. Thus, this process of environmental restoration includes what was previously prehistorically self-evident as a crucial basis for the survival of all higher life forms.

  Water and Land Restoration  
  Environmental Restoration  

  Check Dam Swales  

  Planting Technology  

  Erosion Prevention  

  Terraced Micro-Basins  

  Trees, Shrubs, Flowers and Herbs  

Ethiopia's Unique Highland Landscape and Climate

Regarding Ethiopia's unique climate in the seasons, with months of heavy downpours over the country's characteristic rugged landscape topography followed by months of blistering sunshine, difficulties naturally arise for the survival of planted saplings. The long prehistoric Nature's evolutionary optimized stability in sheer strength and water absorption found in the original native vegetation is thus often impossible to recreate with a simple planting of fragile young seedlings. Therefore, Ethiopia's neglected indigenous Nature demands knowledge and work before any sign of evident healing of the country's Nature and freshwater conservation. Consequently, it is often associated with incredible frustration to recreate healthy landscape biotopes by replanting young native plants on exposed, eroded mountain slopes and devastated high plateaus. Instead, sporadically planted young plants will require tender care with irrigation and protection against grazing animals and shade from season months of midday's mercilessly blistering sunshine. This recreation of Nature's shielding functions needs, thus, the devoted work of restoration to regain the guardian effect from a lost indigenous forest with its endemic vegetation of shielding undergrowth.

The Complications Of Indigenous Forest Restoration

Thus, it is impossible to recreate a stable and healthy nature by replanting a few native trees on a devastated plateau; instead, these sporadically planted young plants on the table will require tender care with irrigation and protection against grazing animals and shade from the blistering seasonal sun. Furthermore, on the slopes, these young plants most often need some temporary stabilizer of the ground and protection in something that mimics the wind and sun-protective effect of many mother trees. In addition, sporadically placed young plants can only offer a very rudimentary and weak protective network against erosion; instead, there is the obvious risk that these young plants will, in all probability, soon perish in the struggle against the great forces of Nature.

The Eucalyptus Problem

The Australian Eucalyptus Tree

On Entoto Mountain and many other places around Addis Ababa, the existing vegetation is Eucalyptus globulus, an Australian tree brought to Ethiopia some 100 years ago. During this past time, most of the area around the town had been deforested due to the need for wood construction and fuel.

The Eucalyptus trees' Hostile, Toxic Impact.
A chemical component in the leaves and roots of Eucalyptus trees prevents the growth of both other trees and herbs. This chemical component leads to a mono-culture with eucalyptus as the only tree species and eventually no ground cover. The importance of careful research regarding knowledge in natural science is given a severe and evident example here before any foreign species is regarded as possible for an introduction into an unfamiliar and very possibly vulnerable habitat.

The Protection and Restoration

An Obligation with a Wonderful Solution

The stalk to the seed of indigenous Podocarpus falcatus (P. gracilior) is considerably more exposed in height at an early stage of its soil germination than the equivalent of the endemic Juniper tree seed. Since the tiny seedlings raise their seeds to the height of their brittle stems, an excellent and traditional solution arises - Rosa abyssinica, which can shield and defend with its sharp thorns the tender Podocarpus seedling in the absence of the original undergrowth, vegetation and biotope locally eradicated due to the tactical poisoning from the foreign eucalyptus tree.

The Science of Indigenous Ancient Trees

Choosing the Right Mother Tree for Seed

In a distant location but within the same country, developed fauna and flora have undergone an extremely long evolutionary optimization to best adapt to the unique condition of its geological and surrounding genetic characteristics. The unique habitat in a particular region within a country imprinted the native indigenous to receive their distinctive property of plant and wildlife depending on the remoteness of the unique climate. 

The Importance of Seed's Evolutionary Heritage
Hence, due to this isolated location on a country's mountainside or within its secluded gorge, the endemic tree created the specificity of their genetic heritage and the soil's uniqueness. Therefore, the trees' evolutionary connection to a country's landscape makes a precious legacy for their seeds, which inherit well-adapted genetic characteristics to the location's biological uniqueness. 

Assessing Seeds Based on the Climate Zones of the Country

Hence, the genetic legacy's impact in Ethiopia's various climates and altitudes creates trees that, although belonging to the same species, developed a difference in genetic heritage to deal with these different climate zones. Thus, making the mistake of using the seed from a tree with its genetic origin from a moist and shady gorge as seedlings on a dry southern slope undermines these trees' ability to survive and other organisms, including humans.

Plant defence against herbivory 


Inside Ethiopia, Tours invites you to be part of an unforgettable experience in Entoto Natural Park. We will meet in our office, located in Kazanchis (just in front of the UNECA back entrance), and our guide will accompany you in the local taxis up to the mountain. This is an excellent opportunity for you to experience Ethiopian commuting. 

Once we arrive on Entoto Mountain, where the capital city was first founded in 1886, you will undoubtedly feel like having mentholated topical ointment. Yes, we are not big fans of the Eucalyptus tree either! That is why we want to promote indigenous seedling planting in Ethiopia by contributing to the Ethiopian Green Legacy.


Where do you plan to make your mark?

The Ethiopian Heritage Trustee Association is working to plant more than 50,000 indigenous saplings in Entoto Natural Park and Zego Kebele Association in Ankober District to cover exposed areas.
  Organizations: Associations: Educational institutions: All those who love Nature, together with our association, let's build a country with suitable air by planting saplings. Let's plant indigenous saplings together.

As we believe, we are ready and waiting for you this year. The Ethiopian Heritage Trustee Association has planted native saplings in place of Eucalyptus trees with partner organizations and members in the Entoto Natural Park. He tells you that this year, come and plant saplings together to protect the environment. For more information:

📞 Call +251 Ethiopia  

011-5-15-88-02/ 09-22-97-27-46

Ethiopian Heritage Trust - Plantation of Seedlings


Useful trees and shrubs for Ethiopia:

Identification, Propagation and

 Management for 17 Agroclimatic Zones

Azene Bekele-Tesemma

Edited by
Bo Tengnäs, Ensermu Kelbesa, Sebsibe Demissew and Patrick Maundu

The contents of this handbook may be reproduced without special permission. However, acknowledgement of the source is requested. The photographers and artists concerned must be contacted for reproduction of illustrations. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of World Agroforestry Centre.



The full amount you donate will be used in Ethiopia.
The Trust is registered with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for Gift Aid.


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