We investigated the population structure and regeneration status of Vitex payos (Lour.) Merr. in Kenyan drylands. The study quantified the spatial distribution pattern of V. payos tree populations in their natural range; and assessed their regeneration status to determine the stability of the populations Woodlands and farm inventories were conducted in Mbeere, Mwingi and Kitui districts of the Eastern Province of Kenya. The nearest-neighbour sampling method was used to determine tree density and distribution of V. payos in the study sites. The number of seedlings and saplings were counted. The diameters, crown diameter, and tree heights of sampled trees were measured. These morphological parameters were summarized on per hectare basis. The patterns of distribution of V. payos trees showed an aggregation of trees on farms and bushes. Tree densities ranged from 1.6 on farmlands to 20.3 trees per ha in the woodlands. The expected mean distances between nearest neighbouring trees were higher than the observed values on all sites, confirming that V. payos trees were more aggregated than randomly dispersed. The mean tree heights varied from < 5 m to > 9 m cross study sites. The sampled populations were dominated by trees (55%) within the range of 10 to 20 cm dbh. Highhest numbers of seedlings from all origins were recorded in the bushes in Kitui and Mbeere districts 101 and 78 seedlings per hectare, respectively. Sapling population densities were generally low.
Key words: Edible wild plants, dryland resources, indigenous fruit trees, Vitex payos, wild fruit trees, Kenya.