Fruits & Vegetables

Kei apple

Botanical Name :Dovyalis caffra
Family: Salicaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Dovyalis
Species: D. caffra

Common Names:Kei apple, Aberia caffra (Harv. & Sond) the Umkokola, Kayaba, Putukila, Umqokolo, Umkokola, kau apple, Kayaba, Wild Apricot and Kai apple or Kau apple

Habitat: Kei apple is native to southern Africa. Its distribution extends from the Kei River in the south, from which the common name derives, northwards along the eastern side of the continent to Tanzania.

It is a usually found in dry types of woodland when it grows to 6 m tall. In moister types of open woodland it reaches its greatest size of about 8–9 metres.

Although it is native to southern Africa, it has also been introduced to the Mediterranean, California, Florida and other regions with subtropical and warm temperate climates. In these places it is most often grown as an ornamental plant, being popular as an impenetrable hedge. It is salt and drought-tolerant, so useful for coastal landscaping in dry regions.

Description: Kei apple is a spiny, attractive, evergreen small to medium-sized shrub or small tree that grows about 30 ft. (9 m) tall with a spread of 25 ft. (7.5 m) and usually has many sharp spines 1 to 3 in (2.5-7.5 cm) long, though it is often entirely spineless if not trimmed.It is a rather straggly tree, with sharp, 3–6 cm long stem spines in the leaf axils.The smooth bark is grey on young branches, though fissured and flaky to corky on old branches and stems. Young branches are heavily armed with long (4-7 cm) spines, but the stem has few spines.

Buds at the base of the spine produce clusters of alternately arranged simple ovate leaves 3–6 cm long. The flowers are inconspicuous, solitary or clustered, with no petals. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, though some female plants are parthenogenetic.


The fruit is an edible bright yellow or orange globose berry 2.5–4 cm diameter, with the skin and flesh of a uniform colour and containing several small seeds. Production is often copious, weighing down the branches during the summer. They are juicy, tasty and very acidic.


A traditional food plant in the areas it occurs, this little-known fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Although a subtropical species, the Kei apple is able to survive temperatures as low as ?6 °C. Gardeners who want fruit require a female plant; a fertile female plant and fertile male plant is ideal. Kei apples are propagated by seed. Plants will bear about four years later

Edible Uses:
*The ripe fruits are tasty, reminiscent of a small apple.
*Ripe fruit has a pleasant flavor and is rich in vitamin C. They are eaten fresh or made into jelly and jam.
*Kei-apples are often eaten fresh, or sprinkled with sugar to complement their natural acidity.
*Aside from being eaten fresh, the fruit can be made into jam, used in desserts, or pickled (their natural acidity means vinegar is not needed).

Medicinal Uses:
Eating Kei apple has lots of medicinal effects like it improves skin health,improves immunity system, good for stomach health etc.

Other Uses:
*In Kenya, it is mostly used for live fences and hedges.
*Plants have dense spiny shoots that make an impermeable barrier.
*If the fruit is soaked in water and allowed to ferment, the liquid drained off has herbicidal properties.
*Wood is white, dense and heavy; usually too small to be of general use.
*Trunk of Dovyalis caffra serves as a good source of hard wood for fuel, house building and furniture making.
*The leaves are often used as fodder and are browsed by antelope.

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.


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