The use of accurate cutting age in vegetative propagation is a key element in improving plant performance. To investigate the effect of physiological age on Cordia africana, branch cuttings from 1-3-, 8-10- and ≥15-year-old trees were grown under open-field conditions for two months. The cuttings were monitored for flushing and growth. The number of days to flushing was lowest for the 8-10-year-old and highest for the ≥15-year-old age class. Rooted cuttings from the 8-10-year-old trees had higher values of height, stem volume, number of leaves, and leaf width than counterparts from the other two age classes, where there were no significant differences between each other for these parameters. Moreover, the differences in stem volume and number of leaves between the youngest and oldest age classes were not statistically significant. Relative growth rates of height, diameter, and stem volume were unresponsive to physiological age. The findings of this study suggest that 8-10-year-old trees could be the most suitable donors of vegetative propagation material for C. africana. It is, however, important that rooting of the cuttings be evaluated to determine if the age-related trends in shoot growth can be sustained.
Key words: Cordia africana, cutting, growth, ortet, physiological age, vegetative propagation.
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