If we fail to anticipate the unforeseen or expect the unexpected in a universe of infinite possibilities, we may find ourselves at the mercy of anyone or anything that cannot be programmed, categorized or easily referenced.

November 03, 2011

Little Known African Fruit

Vangueria infausta (or African Medlar) is a species of plant in the Rubiaceae family. This shrub or small tree occurs in abundance in woodlands, scrub, valleys, stony kopjies, or sandy dunes throughout much of South Africa. The African Medlar is a traditional food plant in Africa, but this little-known fruit has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landscape

This fruit/berry is called Noem-noem,(the smaller variety) fruit grows on large roundish evergreen bushes, flowers are white and starshaped,The fruit are protected by fierce thorns, fruit are bright red when ripe and grows in clusters of 2 or 3, this specific fruit was aprox 1.5cm in length, one eats the whole fruit it consists of a milky sweet flesh, pleasant to the taste with a little bitter undertone(no pip). Very pleasant to eat.

Family: Malvaceae, Thespesia garckeana
(Nyanja); mutohwe (Shona); mtobo

Indigenous to Eastern and Southern Africa.
Common in dry forest ,woodlands, wooded grasslands
Found from sea level to 2000 m altitude with annual rainfall of 250-1250 mm.

As a typical pioneer species, it is highly light-demanding.
It is drought resistant and tolerates light frost.

The fruits have a very high energy content, about 8.1 kJ/g. They are consumed fresh or dried and stored and used in porridge as a relish. The fruits are often marketed locally. The wood is easily worked but generally only suitable for small building needs such as house frames, poles and oxen yokes. It is highly valued for smaller items such as spoons, carvings, combs and tool handles. The wood is also used for firewood and charcoal. The inner bark is used to produce good quality rope fibre.

A small to medium sized evergreen tree, growing up to 20m and as thick as 45 cm. The fruit is an almost spherical woody capsule, 2.5 to 4 cm in diameter, with dense short hairs. It is divided into five sections and when mature it is yellowish to brownish-green in colour. It opens slowly. The fleshy and sticky pulp inside contains five seeds, one in each chamber.

Munyii, also known as the Bird Plum Tree, Berchemia Discolor. The tree is widespread and scattered in open woodlands or at lower altitudes, along river valleys, and in sandy soil in woodlands . It also grows on termite mounds. Sandy clay loams. It is often found on clays, and stream valley and riverine soils.

Fruit ripening occurs between January and March, towards the end of the long rains. The fruits can be eaten fresh and the pulp can be used for a drink. Both are quite nutritious as the fruit is very high in ascorbic acid and sugar.

The yellow-brown wood is one of the hardest in East and Central Africa. It makes excellent furniture, pestles, ladders, poles and is used in general construction.The roots produce a black colour, the wood brown, and the bark red.

The tree has also been featured on Zimbabwean Stamps

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