One of the tree species, Pachira Aquatic, planted in March 2020 for the conservation of the Bulu water catchment in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon by Ecological Balance, is demonstrating a strange growth pattern. Seeds of the flora species were collected and planted at this watershed using the miyawaki technique of reforestation. Five months down the lane, an unusual increase in girth at the bottom of the stem and relatively little growth in height has been observed.

This strange growth pattern has made Cameroonian forest biodiversity conservation expert, Limbi Blessing Tata, who is also the Executive Director of Ecological Balance to cast doubt over its suitability in miyawaki forests in the equatorial type climate where conditions are hardly hostile. The Eco Balance boss also wonder if the dry season will be hostile enough for the tree to give up the food stored at the bottom of the stem.  “Nutrients are incorporated into soils of miyawaki forests, and the forests center mainly on increase in height and density. Does this mean that the pachira trees will become dwarfs?” the forest biodiversity expert ponders.

The origin of the Pachira aquatic tree species can be traced from the swamps of Central and South America and spread to other tropical forests. It is known to grow up to 23m in the wild. Indigenous knowledge points to the fact that the species stores up large amounts of food at the bottom of the stem in good conditions, hence the unusual increase in girth. It is thought to grow in height mainly in hostile conditions during which it is known to ‘give up’ its stored food.

The tree has been nicknamed “money tree” because it is believed to have the potential to bring great wealth to its owner, and the trunks are usually braided together to “lock in” luck and fortune. Though very unpopular in Cameroon, the tree is currently the most popular in Taiwan where it is believed to create “chi,” positive energy that brings luck in homes.

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