Botanical Name: Dacryodes edulis
Common Names: Safou (Cameroon), African plum, African pear, Atanga (Gabon), Ube (Nigeria),v African or Bush pear or Plum, Nsafu, Bush butter tree, or Butterfruit.
Safou is native to Southern and western Tropical Africa – Ghana to the Congo. The preferential habitat of Safou is a shady, humid tropical forest. However, it adapts well to variations in soil type, humidity, temperature and day length. The natural range extends from Angola in the South, Nigeria and Sierra Leone in the West and Uganda in the East. It is also cultivated in Malaysia.
Safou is an evergreen tree attaining a height of 18–40 meters in the forest but not exceeding 12 meters in plantations. It has a relatively short trunk and a deep, dense crown. The bark is pale gray and rough with droplets of resin. The leaves are a compound with 5-8 pairs of leaflets. The upper surface of the leaves is glossy. The flowers are yellow and about 5 mm across. They are arranged in a large inflorescence. The fruit is an ellipsoidal drupe which varies in length from 4 to 12 cm. The skin of the fruit is dark blue or violet, whereas the flesh is pale to light green. The tree flowers at the beginning of the rainy season and bears fruits during 2 to 5 months after flowering.
There are two variants of Dacryodes edulis: D. e. var. edulis and D. e. var. parvicarpa. The fruit of D. e. var. edulis is larger and the tree has stout, ascending branches. D. e. var. parvicarpa has smaller fruit and slender, drooping branches.
A plant of the relatively dry tropical savannah, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 – 28c but can tolerate 14 – 35c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 – 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,000 – 5,000mm. The plant can be cultivated in a wide range of areas, since it adapts well to differences in day length, temperature, rainfall, soils and altitude. Seedlings can thrive in quite dense shade, but older trees grow well in partial shade or full sun. Grows in a wide range of soils, even succeeding in leached, infertile ferrallitic soils and swampy soils. Prefers a pH in the range 5 – 6.5, tolerating 4 – 8. Seedling plants can commence fruiting when about 5 – 6 years old. Flowering time and duration depend on latitude and genotype. Some trees flower early, while others flower late and may produce blossoms continuously for several months. Yields of 20 – 50 kilos of fruit can be expected from each tree, with reports of 110 kilos from 20 year old trees. The flowers open in the morning and pollen is shed within 1 – 2 hours, so pollination has to be effected quickly. Trees can be male, female, or hermaphrodite. Male trees may produce a limited number of female flowers, and thus some fruit. Blooms all year. Blooms repeatedly. Carbon Farming – Cultivation: regional crop. Management: standard.
Safou fruit can be eaten either raw, cooked in salt water or roasted. Cooked flesh of the fruit has a texture similar to butter. The pulp contains 48% oil and a plantation can produce 7-8 tons of oil per hectare. The fat content of this fruit is much higher compared to fruits such as apple, guava, and pawpaw. It is also rich in vitamins. The kernel can be used as fodder for sheep or goats. The flowers are useful in apiculture.
The seed of Safou is rich in different proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, crude fibres, appreciable amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also rich in essential amino acids such as Lysine, Phenylalanine, Leucine, Isoleucine. It contain a considerable amount of fatty acids such as palmitic acids, oleic acids, and linoleic acids. Physicochemical analysis suggested that the seed have valuable functional attributes of industrial interest. The important natural product, gallic acid, is found in significant quantity in the seed of Safou.
The tree is also a source of many herbal medicines. It has long been used in the traditional medicine of some African countries to treat various ailments such as wounds, skin diseases,[vague] dysentery, and fever. The extracts and secondary metabolites have been found to show antimicrobial and antioxidant activities. A wide range of chemical constituents such as terpenes, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, and saponins have been isolated from the plant.
The resin from the bark is used to treat parasitic skin diseases, jiggers etc. A bark-decoction is taken powdered with maleguetta pepper as an anti-dysenteric, and for anaemia, spitting blood and as an emmenagogue. The decoction is also used for making gargles and mouth-washes, for treating tonsillitis. The pulped-up bark is used as a wound cicatrizant. Combined with palm-oil, it is applied topically to relieve general pains and stiffness and to treat cutaneous conditions. The leaves are eaten raw with kola nut as an antiemetic. The leaf-sap is instilled into the ear for ear-trouble. A leaf-decoction is prepared as a vapour-bath for treating feverish stiffness with headache.
The wood of Safou is elastic, greyish-white to pinkish. The wood has general use for tool handles, and occasionally for mortars, and is suitable for carpentry.
The resin is sometimes burnt for lighting or used as a glue. The tree is used as an ornamental plant and is known to improve soil quality by providing large quantities of biomass.
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.