The wood of this species is highly valued for construction and building of houses as it is the only sizable tree in the family Cupressaceae that occurs naturally in a large surrounding region. Its wood, as of other members of the family, is decay and insect resistant. Large timber yielding trees are becoming increasingly rare due to overexploitation of this valuable resource for more than a century (Chapman, 1995). Attempts at plantation forestry using this species have been made, but have been much less sucessful than the plantations of the exotic species Cupressus lusitanica and Pinus patula which grow faster. It also appears that most of these plantations involve a mixture of two species (Pauw & Linder, 1997), often with W. whytei at a disadvantage as it grows slower. The wood of W. whytei is yellowish brown and of excellent quality for construction, general carpentry and joinery, wood panelling, flooring, and furniture making. In colonial times some of its wood found its way to English interiors, nowadays there is no export of this timber. This species does not appear to be in horticultural use, although it is present in a few botanic gardens in South Africa
References and further reading
- Bayliss, J., S. Makungwa, J. Hecht, D. Nangoma & C. Bruessow. (2007). Saving the Island in the Sky: the plight of the Mount Mulanje cedar Widdringtonia whytei in Malawi. Oryx 41(1): 64–69.
- Chanyenga, T.F., Geldenhuys, C.J & Harvey, J. (2011). Variation in seed rain from Widdringtonia whytei growing in different conditions on Mulanje Mountain. Malawi Southern Forests 2011, 73(3&4): 123–129
- Chanyengaa, T.F., Geldenhuysb, C.J. & Sileshi, G.W. (2012). Germination response and viability of an endangered tropical conifer Widdringtonia whytei seeds to temperature and light. South African Journal of Botany 81: 25–28
- Chapman, J. D. (1995). The Mulanje Cedar, Malawi’s National Tree. The Society of Malawi, Blantyre.
- Farjon, A. (2013). Widdringtonia whytei. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 07 July 2013.
- Hecht, J. (2008). When will community management conserve biodiversity? Evidence from Malawi. Field Actions Sci. Rep. 1: 9–17.
- Makungwa, S.D. (2004). Inventory results of Mulanje Cedar resources on Mulanje Mountain. Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust, Blantyre, Malawi.
- Pauw, C.A. and Linder, H.P. (1997). Tropical African cedars (Widdringtonia, Cupressaceae): systematics, ecology and conservation status. Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 123: 297–319.
- Richardson, D.M. (1998). Ecology and biogeography of Pinus. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.