Herbs & Plants

Uapaca kirkiana

Botanical Name: Uapaca kirkiana
Family: Phyllanthaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Uapaca
Species: U. kirkiana

*Uapaca albida De Wild
*Arg. Uapaca goetzei Pax Uapaca greenwayi Suesseng.

Common Names: Wild Loquat, Sugar plum or Mahobohobo

Habitat: Uapaca kirkiana iis native to Tropical Africa – Angola, Burundi, Tanzania and the Congo. It grows on the
lowland forest, secondary miombo woodland such as clearing and gaps, and open woodland. Grows in well-drained escarpments, with infertile sand or gravel soils of acidic reaction.

Uapaca kirkiana is an evergreen dioecious tree. The clusters of staminate (or male) and single pistillate (or female) flowers are borne on separate trees. It grows to a height of 5–13 meters, and 15–25 cm in trunk diameter. The dark green, glossy leaves are 12–36 cm long and 8–24 cm wide. It is not prone to attack by pests. The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruits are round and rusty-yellow.

Female trees fruit after about 9–10 years from seed. The fruit is roughly spherical drupe about 2–4 cm in diameter, green in colour ripening to yellow or brown. When ripe, the 1.5mm hard shell encloses the yellow flesh which has an appealing sweet taste that has been likened to pear or plum. Fruits usually contain 3 or 4 seeds, though sometimes 5. Fruits weigh between 5 and 50 grams each, with from 0.2 to 30 grams of pulp. The is fruit is fleshy, sweet, and delicious. The fruit is usually eaten by wild animals such as monkeys.


The plant is are found wild at an altitude of 500 – 2,000 metres in the tropics. It grows best where the mean annual temperature is within the range of 18 – 24°c, though it tolerates 12 – 32°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 700 – 1,500mm, but can tolerate 500 – 2,000mm. Plants are very intolerant of frost. Prefers a sunny position, tolerating light shade. Tolerant of poor, shallow, gravel and sandy loam soils. Normally found in acidic soils with a pH 4 – 6.5. Dioecious – both male and female forms need to be grown if seed is required.

It is usually propagated by seed, which is recalcitrant and germinates readily, reaching 90% after 6 weeks for fresh seed. The tree can also be propagated vegetatively – a success rate of 80% has been achieved with wedge or splice grafts. Air layering is also possible, though these trees have not fared well without a taproot. The tree naturally propagates via underground suckers and forms stands.

Edible Uses:
Fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Fleshy and sweet, it has a delicious flavour. The fruit is commonly eaten fresh and is highly regarded. It can also be used for brewing a very pleasant wine or for making cakes that are fried and eaten. The juice of the fruit is mixed with sorghum meal to form a thin, orange-flavoured porridge. The fruit pulp is juicy, honey-like, very tasty and somewhat reminiscent of pears. Dried fruits have a toffee-like flavour. The fruit is about 4cm x 4cm.

Medicinal Uses:
An infusion made from the roots is used to treat indigestion and dysentery.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: The tree is planted for erosion control, shade, shelter, living fence and as an ornamental. It forms a mutual association with mycorrhizae and act as a soil improver and is an important agro-forestry tree. Other Uses A blue dye is made from the roots. The leaves are used as a cockroach repellent in homes. Wood is light with white sapwood and reddish-brown, figured heartwood. It is hard and durable, has a straight grain, saws clean and can be planed to a smooth finish. It glues well, holds nails firmly and takes a clear varnish finish. Suitable for general carpentry, house building and domestic utensils, furniture and joinery, carvings and boxes. It is termite resistant. The wood is used as a fuel and to make charcoal. Charcoal made from the wood is highly regarded, and many trees are cut specifically for this purpose. It is also a good source of firewood.

Notes: Little work has been done developing cultivars, though some named varieties do exist. Since 1996, work on propagating of superior seedlings has been carried out in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe by the Southern Africa Regional Programm.

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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