Botanical Name: Vangueria infausta
Species: V. infausta
Canthium infaustum (Burch.) Baill. Vangueria barnimiana Schweinf. Vangueria campanulata Robyns Vangu
Common Names: African medlar or Medlar
Habitat:African Medlar is native to the southern and eastern Afrotropics. The fruits are consumed by humans and have a pleasant apple like flavor. The specific name infausta alludes to the misfortune believed to result from its use as firewood.
This shrub or small tree occurs in abundance in woodlands, scrub, valleys, stony kopjies, or sandy dunes throughout much of Southern and East Africa, including Madagascar. In Africa it is native to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. It may be found from 350 to 1,330 m above sea level.
The trees are low-branching and mostly smallish but may reach 8 m in height. They have drooping branchlets and have pale greyish brown, flaky bark. The fairly large, dull leaves have entire margins and are somewhat variable in shape. They have an opposite arrangement and conspicuous net-veining below. Young leaves are boat-shaped and recurved along the central vein.
Dense clusters of robust green flowers develop from pointed buds in spring. Each velvety flower is about 4 mm long and 6 mm wide, and are carried on opposite and axillary cymes. The corolla is dropped early.
The initially green and glossy fruit appear in summer, and bear the remains of the calyx around their tips. They develop into unevenly shaped, glossy, tan-coloured plums, that contain soft fleshy pulp and fairly large seeds.
A tree of the subtropics to tropics, usually growing in areas with a distinct dry season at elevations up to 1,500m . It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 17 – 28°c, though it can tolerate 12 – 36°c. The plant is fairly frost-tolerant and is able to withstand temperatures down to -5°c when it is dormant, though even light frosts can damage the young growth. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 800 – 1,200mm, but tolerates 700 – 1,500mm. Succeeds in full sun to light shade. Succeeds in most soils so long as they are well drained. Established plants are drought tolerant. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 7, tolerating 5 – 7.5. A slow growing plant, usually increasing height by less than 50cm a year.
The African medlar is a traditional food plant in Africa. This little-known fruit has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care.
The root is anthelmintic, antidote and purgative. A popular snake-bite remedy, it is also used to treat a variety of complaints such as malaria, pneumonia, coughs and other chest troubles. A warm decoction of the roots is considered to be an effective remedy for heart ailments in Namibia. The leaves are applied externally as a treatment for swellings on the legs; inflammation of the navel in children; abdominal pain; and for the relief of dental pain.
Other Uses: The fruit are consumed raw or the pulp may be dried and stored for later use, while the seeds may be roasted. Goats and game browse on the leaves, while other animals may consume the fruit on the tree, or after they are shed on the ground. The roots and leaves are used by traditional healers.
Thin twigs are prone to being populated by spittlebugs.
The wood can be used as poles for houses, tool handles and agricultural implements. The wood is considered a good fuel in some areas, though in others it is said to bring bad luck if burnt.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.