Botanical Name: Ricinodendron heudelotii
*Jatropha heudelotii Baill.
*Ricinodendron africanum Müll.Arg.
*Ricinodendron gracilius Mildbr.
*Barrettia umbrosa Sim
*Ricinodendron tomentellum Hutch. & E.A.Bruce
*Ricinodendron schliebenii Mildbr.
Common Names:Manketti nut, Zambezi almond, African oil-nut-tree, Munguella (Angola), Njangsa (Cameroon), Bofeko (Zaire), Wama (Ghana), Okhuen (Nigeria), Kishongo (Uganda), Akpi (Ivory Coast), Djansang, essang, Ezezang and Njasang
Habitat : Ricinodendron is native to tropical Africa from Senegal + Liberia east to Sudan and Tanzania and south to Mozambique and Angola. The tree is also found on Madagascar.
Njangsa grows generally in rain forests and is also typical for secondary forests. This tree is a light-demanding species. Therefore, it can also be found in deciduous forests, forest edges, secondary scrubs and thickets in semi-dry savannahs. The tree is observed in food crop fields, cocoa farms and other agroforestry systems, where the trees can also intentionally be planted
Description:Ricinodendron heudelotii is a deciduous Tree growing to 40 m (131ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate with a straight trunk which can have a diameter up to 2.7 m. Its crown is broad and the roots are big running. The bark is smooth with a grey colour. Inside, the bark is red when cut.
The flowers are yellowish white, 5 mm long and form a long terminal panicle which measures between 15 and 40 cm. Flowering time is between April and May. Male panicles are larger and slender than female flowers.
Njangsa trees produce a fruit that are typically two or three lobed and contain two cells in which the seeds lie. These seeds are red brown to black, rounded and some 1 cm in diameter. The seeds are oily in texture and can be bought either raw or dried. They have an odour reminiscent of oily chocolate, but their flavour is truly unique: subtly aromatic with a mild bitter aftertaste. At maturity (August – September) the fruit smells like over-ripe apples.
A plant mainly of the tropics, where it can also be found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where the mean minimum and maximum temperatures are within the range 20 – 30°c, but can tolerate 14 – 34°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 – 4,000mm, but tolerates 500 – 5,000mm. Grows best in a sunny position. Prefers a medium textured, freely draining, acidic soil.Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 6.5, tolerating 5 – 7. A very fast-growing tree, in open light spaces it will bear fruit in its seventh to tenth year of growth. The tree responds well to coppicing and pollarding, regenerating readily from the stump. Some reports suggest the tree does not alwyas coppice well. The tree grows spontaneously from seed and is often preserved in the neighbourhood of forest villages. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Seed – cooked. Although edible, they are not everywhere valued as food. The kernels are eaten boiled in water or in sauce, or mixed with fish, meat and other vegetables. They can be roasted and made into a paste, which can be stored and used for making porridge in times of food shortage. In many areas the seeds are regarded as a famine food, for use when other foods are not available. The black fruit is a 2 – 3-lobed drupe 25 – 30mm long and 40 – 50mm wide, containing 2 – 3, globose seeds around 15mm in diameter. Fallen fruits are collected from the ground. After collection, the fruits are left to rot in big piles. Once the fruit pulp is rotten, the stones are extracted by washing and boiling the fruits vigorously. Then the stones are removed from the hot water, put in cold water and left overnight. They are boiled vigorously once more until the shells crack. Shells are then removed using a knife. After extraction, the seeds are dried. The seed contains about 47% by weight of a light yellow oil with a sweet taste. The seeds are pounded, boiled in water and then allowed to cool. The floating oil is skimmed off, boiled then filtered and used for cooking. The oil consists of the following fatty acids: eleostearic 44%; oleic 16%; plus 10% each of palmitic; stearic; linoleic; and linolenic. Leaves – cooked and eaten as a protein-rich vegetable. The ash of the wood is used as vegetable salt in cooking.
The stem-bark is taken by enema to prevent abortion. A decoction of the stem bark is used externally to wash and cicatrize sores. A decoction of the root bark is considered a powerful anti-dysenteric. The root bark is ground up into a powder then mixed with pepper and salt and used for treating constipation. A decoction of the bark is used in the treatment of blennorrhoea, cough, painful menstruation and as an antidote to poison. A bark-liquor is taken by pregnant women to relieve pains and to prevent miscarriage. It is also taken by women ‘to kill a worm which is in the bowels and which prevents them from breeding’. Externally, the bark is used in lotions and baths to strengthen rachitic children and premature babies, and to relieve rheumatism and oedemas. The pulped bark (also the leaves) is applied externally to treat fungal infections, to maturate abscesses, furuncles and buboes. The bark is beaten and warmed, then tied to the body in the treatment of elephantiasis. The expressed sap is instilled to the eye in the treatment of filaria and ophthalmia. The leaves are used to treat dysentery, female sterility, oedemas, and stomach-pains. A leaf decoction is taken by draught and in baths as a febrifuge. The roots in Ivory Coast are considered aphrodisiac. Examination of various sources of the bark have found no active principles. Leaves and stems have been reported to contain an unnamed alkaloid. The traditional use of the seed, husk and latex as a remedy for gonorrhoea and diarrhoea may rest on the action of a resin found in the seed, as also the use for treating amoebic dysentery.
Agroforestry Uses: The roots reach deep into the soil and cause little competition for nutrients and water in the upper soil layers with adjacent crops. It is a popular shade and shelter tree in smallholder cocoa plantations. There is a belief that ‘collar-crack’ disease will occur on a cacao farm if the tree is cut down. When not grown in pure stands, this species has always been intercropped with coffee, cocoa or bananas. The seed contains small amounts of toxic substances, said to be a resin, which renders the residual cake unfit for use as a cattle-food though the cake should be a good nitrogenous agricultural fertiliser. The tree is used as a live fence and for erosion control. The tree could be very useful as a pioneer species – it is very fast growing, often found in secondary formations and commonly invades old farmland in its native range. Other Uses The ash of the wood is used as a source of potash for the preparation of a vegetable-salt in soap-making and in indigo dyeing. The seed contains about 47% of a light yellow drying oil with a sweet taste. It is usable in varnish and to make soft-soap, and it has industrial application in making water-proofing materials. Decortication, however, is not easy, and as the shell amounts to 37% of the weight of the seed the total amount of oil may be as low as 14% of the whole seed[332 ]. The seed contains small amounts of toxic substances, said to be a resin. The seeds are used in rattles and as counters in games[299 , 332 ]. The leaves areused as wrapping material. The sawdust is extraordinarily light and is suitable for use in making life-saving belts. The wood is currently recommended for use in insulation and the sawdust is no doubt suitable for sun-helmets. The heartwood is dull white to pale yellow, darkening once exposed to light; it is not clearly differentiated from the sapwood. The grain is straight to interlocked, sometimes slightly wavy; the texture coarse and even. The wood is very light in weight; very soft; fibrous; brittle; not very durable, being liable to attack by termites, powderpost beetles and marine borers. It dries rapidly with little or no degrade; shrinkage rates are low; once dry the wood is moderately stable to stable in service. The wood saws and works easily with ordinary tools – there is a great tendency to woolliness, however, and tools need to be kept very sharp; it nails and screws without splitting, but holding properties are poor; gluing is correct; turning and planing are difficult. The wood is considered to be a good substitute for balsa wood (Ochroma pyramidale); it is very buoyant and is used for fishing-net floats and rafts for heavy timbers, because of its ease of working it is carved into fetish-masks, spoons, ladles, plates, platters, bowls, dippers, stools, etc; it is also used for rough planks and coffins. The wood is used for making drums which are said to be very sonorous, and it is carved to make the whole or the resonant parts of musical instruments in various parts of Africa. The wood is perhaps suitable for paper-pulp. The wood is indifferent as a fuel, since it burns with great rapidity.
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.