Large Sourplum

Large Sourplum

Ximenia Caffra

The Ximenia caffra, or Large Sourplum, is a deciduous tree that grows up to 6m tall. Its leaves are leathery and dark green and the bark is dark grey and rough. However, there are pale green or brown on younger branches. The root system is non-aggressive.

The Sourplum’s Flowers And Fruit

The flowers have cream to greenish petals which are bearded and have a sweet scent. Ximenia caffra flowers from August to October, and bears fruits from November to February. It can be found in woodland or wooded grassland, rocky hillsides or on rocky outcrops.

The tree bears an oval shaped fruit which varies from pinkish to a deep glossy red and has a very tart taste. The single large seed inside contains Ximenia oil which has various uses.

Food For Our Fauna

Birds such as barbets, bulbuls and starlings eat the ripe fruits of the Sourplum. Additionally, mammals such as giraffe, impala, kudu, grey duiker, steenbok, bushbuck, and eland enjoy eating the leaves of the Ximenia. The larvae of a number of butterflies feed on the leaves. Some examples are the Bush Scarlet butterfly, Natal and Silvery bar, Bowker’s and Saffron sapphire, and the Brown playboy.

The Sourplum’s Fruit Is Great For Humans, Too

You can use the ripe fruit is for making jam, dessert and jelly. This is especially great since the the fruit has a vitamin C content of 27%, and is high in potassium and protein. The seeds have an oil content of 65%. The non-drying oil from the seed can be used to soften leather and for lamps, and is excellent for rubbing chapped feet.

Medicinal Purposes

The medicinal purposes are numerous. If you have a fever, you can take dried leaves in powdered form. You can also use a decoction from the leaves as a wash to soothe inflamed eyes. Additionally, you can use infusions of the roots as a remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea, and, together with the leaves, are great for abdominal, pain and Bilharzia. You can apply powdered roots to sores to speed up healing, and for the more amorous of us, you can also use the powdered roots in soup and beer as an aphrodisiac.

When it comes to infertility, turn to the powdered dried leaves of the Sourplum tree or even the root decoction. You can use extracts of the leaves as a gargle for tonsillitis, and as a vermifuge. Traditionally, people made porridge using a decoction of the roots, and pregnant women ate the decoction once a day for nausea. However, be sure to first be trained in the art of herbal medicine before undertaking any of these remedies at home.

Source: SANBI

Image: Wikimedia, User JMK