Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)

Botanical Name :Butyrospermum parkii
Family: Sapotaceae
Genus: Butyrospermum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Species: B. parkii
Syn. B. paradoxa ,Vitellaria paradoxa
Common Names  : Shea Butter , Vitellaria,Karité,shea tree, vitellaria


Habitat
:Indigenous  to Africa, occurring in Mali, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Togo, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Uganda.


Description:

The tree is perennial and starts bearing the first fruits when it is 10–15 years old; full bearing is attained when the tree is about 20–30 years. It produces nuts for up to 200 years after reaching maturity.

The fruits resemble large plums and take 4–6 months to ripen. Average yield is 15–20 kilograms of fresh fruit per tree, with optimum yields up to 45 kg. Each kilogram of fruit gives approximately 400 grams of dry seeds.

Botanical Details:Trees or shrubs , usually producing latex. Leaves spirally arranged or alternate and distichous, rarely ± opposite, sometimes crowded at apex of branchlets ; stipules early deciduous or absent; leaf blade papery or leathery, margin entire. Flowers bisexual or unisexual , usually in sessile axillary clusters , rarely solitary; cluster pedunculate or in raceme-like inflorescence, bracteolate . Calyx a single whorl of usually 4–6 sepals, or 2 whorls each with 2–4 sepals. Corolla lobes as many to 2 X as many as sepals, usually entire, rarely with 2 lacerate or lobular appendages . Stamens inserted at corolla base or at throat of corolla tube , as many as and opposite corolla lobes to many and in 2 or 3 whorls; staminodes when present alternate with stamens, scaly to petal-like. Ovary superior, 4- or 5-locular, placentation axillary; ovules 1 per locule, anatropous . Style 1, often apically lobed . Fruit a berry or drupe, 1- to many-seeded. Seed coat brown (pale yellow in Pouteria annamensis), hard, shiny, rich in tannin; endosperm usually oily; seed scar lateral and linear to oblong or basal and round.

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The shea fruit consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed from which is extracted shea butter.

Constituents: vitamins a, e, and f, fatty acids: oleic- 60.5% palmitic- 5.0% linoleic- 7.9% stearic- 45.24%
Edible Uses:
The Shea tree is an African traditional food plant. It has been claimed that that the tree has potential to improve nutrition, boost food supply in the ” annual hungry season”,[1] foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

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Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Abrasions/Cuts * Aches & Pains * Eczema * Facial and Skin care * Hair Care/Shampoo * Insect Bites/Rashes * Natural Skin Care-Oils & Herbs *
Properties: Anti-inflammatory* Emollient* Skin tonic* Vulnerary*
Parts Used: Nut oil.

Shea butter is becoming more popular here in the West as we discover its marvelous uses in skin care. Shea is rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that rejuvenate and hydrate skin and hair. Use shea butter alone or in homemade skin preparations to treat damaged skin, help heal wounds, or just pamper yourself with a whole body treatment.

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Pure shea butter has a soft, pliable texture, is naturally cream colored and has a pleasant nutty scent. Bleached and refined shea butter does not retain its medicinal properties, so be sure to obtain it from a reputable vender that specializes in natural products. (Like Mountain Rose;)

Shea Butter is naturally rich in Vitamins A, E, and F, as well as a number of other vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E help to soothe, hydrate, and balance the skin. They also provide skin collagen which assists with wrinkles and other signs of ageing. Vitamin F contains essential fatty acids, and helps protect and revitalize damaged skin and hair. Shea Butter is an intense moisturizer for dry skin, and is a wonderful product for revitalizing dull or dry skin on the body or scalp. It promotes skin renewal, increases the circulation, and accelerates wound healing.

You may click to see:
From Ghana to Sonning :
Africa hopes for anti-wrinkle cash cow :

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Resources:

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail396.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butyrospermum_parkii
http://www.sheabuttermarket.com/shea_buttter_market_values.htm
http://zipcodezoo.com/Plants/V/Vitellaria_paradoxa/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butyrospermum_parkii

http://www.bbc.co.uk/berkshire/content/articles/2006/02/20/shea_butter_feature.shtml

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