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Phénologie et diamètre de fructification du wengé, Millettia laurentii De Wild.
Implications pour la gestion
This study is part of a broader effort to characterise the autecology of the Wenge, Millettia laurentii de Wild., a tree species of major importance for the timber sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This article describes the relevant aspects of the foliar and reproductive phenology of the species and their management implications. The phenology of 774 trees distributed across three timber concessions licensed to the SODEFOR (Société de Développement Forestier) in the Maï-Ndombe region (258 trees in each site) was monitored on a monthly basis for 15 months. The foliar phenology of Millettia laurentii is highly seasonal. Leaf fall and the appearance of new leaves occur twice a year, during the dry season and at the start of the rainy season. Reproductive phenology (blossoming and fruiting) is also highly seasonal,although differences emerge between sites. The trees blossom at the start of the rainy season, at the same time as new leaves appear. Full maturity, when seed pods burst open and the seeds can be harvested, occurs between the end of the dry season and the start of the rainy season. Blossoming is typically annual. Individuals blossom in groups, but each group only blossoms once a year. However, blossoming and fruiting events are occasionally observed outside peak periods, especially in the wettest and least seasonal site. Millettia laurentii is an early fruiting species, at a minimum diameter of 10 cm or less, but effective fruiting nevertheless depends on the diameter and social status of each tree. The minimum legal felling diameter in the DRC (60 cm) is higher than the regular fruiting diameter of 40-50 cm, which is necessary to maintain seed trees in stands after felling.