|A tree species reference and selection guide|
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(Afrikaans) : kleinsuurpruim
(Amharic) : inkoy, kol
(Arabic) : abu khamier, abu khamira, ankwi, humeid abiad, kelto, medica
(Bemba) : mulebe
(Bislama) : terengi
(English) : false sandalwood, hog plum, seaside plum, small sourplum, sour plum, tallow nut, tallow wood, wild lime, wild olive, wild plum
(French) : cerise de mer, citron de mer, croc, macaby
(Lozi) : mulutulwa, mungomba, musongwasongwa, mutente
(Luganda) : museka
(Lunda) : musongwasongwa, muvulama
(Mandinka) : Nogbé, Ntogé, Séné, Séno
(Nyanja) : kamulebe, mtundu, mtundulukwa, ntengele
(Somali) : madarau, madarud
(Spanish) : almendro de costa, ciruelillo, hicaco
(Swahili) : mpingi, mtumbui tumbui, mtundakula, timbui timbui
(Tamil) : chiru-illantai, kadaranji, siruyilan dai
(Tigrigna) : mlehtta, mullo
(Tongan) : muchonfwa
Ximenia americana is a semi-scandent bush-forming shrub or small tree 2-7 m high. Trunk diameter seldom greater than 10 cm; bark dark brown to pale grey, smooth to scaly. The lax, usually divergent branching forms a rounded or conical crown. Branchlets purple-red with a waxy bloom and the tree usually armed with straight slender spines. Sometimes semi-parasitic with haustoria on the roots. Leaves alternate, lanceolate to elliptic, 3-8 to 1.5-4 cm, variable thickness (semi-succulent to thin); obtuse or emarginate, 3-7 pairs veins, inconspicuous. Petioles short, slender, up to 6 mm long, canaliculate. Grey-green, hairless and leathery or thin flesh. When crushed, young leaves smell of bitter almonds. The fragrant white, yellow-green or pink flowers occur in branched inflorescences borne on shortly pedunculate axillary racemes or umbels; pedicles 3-7 mm long, both peduncles or pedicles glabrous. Fruits globose to ellipsoidal drupes about 3 cm long, 2.5 cm thick, glabrous, greenish when young, becoming yellowish (or, rarely, orange-red) when ripe, containing a juicy pulp and 1 seed. Seed woody, light yellow, up to 1.5 cm long, 1.2 cm thick with a fatty kernel and a brittle shell. Ximenia was named after a Spanish monk, Francisco Ximeniz. The specific name is the Latin form of ‘American’.
Ecology and distributionNatural Habitat
A mostly solitary tree dispersed in open country, savannah, gallery forest, along coastal areas, in the understorey of dry forests, in dry woodlands, or on riverbanks. X. americana is drought resistant.
Native : Angola, Argentina, Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Gambia, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Surinam, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Biophysical limitsAltitude: 0-2000 m, Mean annual temperature: 14-30 deg. C, Mean annual rainfall: 300-1250 mm Soil type: Often poor and dry, including clays, clay loam, loamy sands, sandy clay loam and sands.
The species flowers and its fruit ripens throughout the year; flowering and fruiting periods do not seem to be governed by climatic regimes. Fruits are dispersed by animals.
Propagation and managementPropagation methodsSeed and cuttings. The tree regenerates naturally from seed and coppice. Fresh seed should be sown for good germination.
For life fence purposes, trimming is necessary. Coppicing is also a recommended practice.
Seed storage behaviour is recalcitrant. There are 1400 seeds/kg.
Functional usesProductsFood: The fruits, as well as being pleasant to eat raw, can be used to make juice, jams and jellies, or an intoxicating drink. The pulp of seed and fruit contains hydrocyanic acid, and it is advisable not to chew the seed. Kernel oil is used as a vegetable butter and as a ghee substitute. Young leaves are edible after thorough cooking. Fuel: Firewood and charcoal are the chief uses of the wood, because the trunk is usually too small to make it useful for timber. Tannin or dyestuff: Bark is used for tanning; it contains approximately 17% tannin, which gives leather a reddish colour. Roots also used in tanning. Bark is used to strengthen indigo dyes. Lipids: The fruit yields up to 67.4% oil from the seed that has been used as a body and hair oil. The oil is not edible, and the presence of a rubberlike substance excludes it from many industrial uses. Essential oil: Heartwood contains an essential oil used for fumigation. The flowers have an essential oil that could be a good substitute for orange blossom. Alcohol: In South Africa, the fruits have been used to make a kind of beer. Poison: Sambunigrine has been identified as the main cyanogenetic principle in the plant. Leaves at 100 ppm cause 100% mortality of Bulinus globus, the vector in the transmission of schistosomiasis. Bark and crushed fruit rind are applied to sores on domestic animals and to keep off fleas. Medicine: Leaves and twigs are used for fevers, colds, as a mouthwash for toothache, as a laxative and an eye lotion. Leaves are used for headaches, angina, and as a poison antidote. Roots treat skin problems, headaches, leprosy, haemorrhoids, sexually transmitted diseases, guinea worm, sleeping sickness, oedema, and act as an antidote to poison. The fruit is useful in treating habitual constipation. The bark is used in decoction, dried or powdered as a cicatrisant and applied to skin ulcers; it is put on the head for febrile headache, placed in bath water for sick children, and used for kidney and heart complaints. The fruit eaten in large quantities acts as a vermifuge. A decoction of the roots or fruits is used to treat dysentery in calves. Other products: The seed contains a non-drying oil suitable for soap manufacture and lubrication.
Ornamental: X. americana has attractive foliage and flowers. Boundary or barrier or support: Suited to cultivation as a hedge plant.
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Beentje HJ. 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya.
Bein E. 1996. Useful trees and shrubs in Eritrea. Regional Soil Conservation Unit (RSCU), Nairobi, Kenya.
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Booth FEM, Wickens GE. 1988. Non-timber uses of selected arid zone trees and shrubs in Africa. FAO Conservation Guide. No. 19. Rome.
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Hines DA, Eckman K. 1993. Indigenous multipurpose trees for Tanzania: uses and economic benefits to the people. Cultural survival Canada and Development Services Foundation of Tanzania.
Hong TD, Linington S, Ellis RH. 1996. Seed storage behaviour: a compendium. Handbooks for Genebanks: No. 4. IPGRI.
ICRAF. 1992. A selection of useful trees and shrubs for Kenya: Notes on their identification, propagation and management for use by farming and pastoral communities. ICRAF.
Katende AB et al. 1995. Useful trees and shrubs for Uganda. Identification, Propagation and Management for Agricultural and Pastoral Communities. Regional Soil Conservation Unit (RSCU), Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA).
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Vaughan JG. 1970. The structure and utilization of oil seeds. Chapman and Hall Ltd.
Vogt K. 1995. A field guide to the identification, propagation and uses of common trees and shrubs of dryland Sudan. SOS Sahel International (UK).
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