Mobola plum 2017-04-07T07:42:14+00:00

Project Description

(Parinari curatellifolia) / Muchakata, Muhacha (Sh), Umkhuna (N)

The mobola plum is also called hissing tree for the hissing noise the bark makes when cut. As its fruits are sweet and very tasty and much sought after – rated the best African wild fruit, the trees are normally left standing though when areas of woodland are cleared for cultivation, making them a noticeable feature along the roads. The fruit is especially important during periods of food shortages. The nut kernels are a good source of energy, protein, nutritionally valuable minerals and contain good quality oil useful for cosmetic purposes.

Where it can be found: Mobola plum is widespread in tropical Africa from Senegal to Kenya and southwards to northern South Africa, with the highest concentration in deciduous Miombo woodland in Zimbabwe and the low veld region in South Africa.

Mobola plum mostly grows in open woodland, wooded grassland, savannah and often on rocky sites. It is particularly common near rivers (Lowveld) and in areas of poor drainage (Middle- and Highveld). It is often considered an indicator of a high water table. It is gregarious and locally abundant.

What is harvested-harvesting time: Fruits appear early in the dry season and can be harvested over 3 or more months (Oct to Jan). They can be harvested when they turn yellow-orange. The fruits often fall to the ground before they are fully mature and then continue to ripen on the ground. The tree fruits profusely, but may not bear fruit every year.

The fruit skin and pulp are removed with a knife and the seeds washed with water. For extraction of large quantities, the fruits are soaked in water for 24 hours, and then pounded with some coarse sand. After mixing well with large quantities of water, the fruit skin and pulp are discarded, leaving the cleaned seeds behind. Extracted seeds should be sun dried for at least 2 days before the kernels are extracted, and can be kept for a few months. About 5kg of fruits produce 1kg of seeds.

The fruit has a pleasant tasting, yellow flesh, is a good source of vitamin C, and contributes significantly to mineral requirements (significant amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron).

The kernel has 33 g of protein per 100 g, an amount similar to peanuts and other protein-rich legumes. It is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorus with high levels of vitamin E.

The kernels have a high oil content (40%, yielding 25% when processed). The fatty acids in the oil are mainly (poly)unsaturated. These fats have lower cholesterol levels and help reduce heart related diseases.

The oil absorbs well into the skin. It offers excellent moisturization without clogging of pores. Due to the high level of eleostearic acid, the oil provides some level of UV ray protection.

Mobola plum is a neat, compact shade tree and a good tree to grow in orchards or home gardens. The tree is pollinated by bees, produces abundant pollen and nectar and is therefore desired by honey farmers.

A leaf decoction is either drunk or used in a bath as a fever remedy. Crushed or pulped leaves are used in a dressing for fractures or dislocations, and for wounds, sores and cuts.

The brown pulp of the fruit is pleasantly sweet, particularly if the fruits are picked and stored until they are thoroughly ripe. The fruits are eaten fresh but are sweeter when sun-dried for 3-4 days. The pulp is served as a sauce on porridge, or thickened with meal/ flour and cooked to make gruel. The juice ferments well and is often used to make alcoholic drinks. The fruit also makes good jams and preserves and is used as the basis of non-alcoholic beverages. It can be dried and used as a reserve food.

The seeds may be eaten raw or are often roasted. They make an excellent substitute for almonds.

The kernel oil is edible (cooking). It can also be employed in the cosmetics industries for soaps, in products for body care, emollient creams for dry, damaged, tired or aged skin and hair. It is used in nourishing lip balms and hair care products such as dry hair shampoos, capillary masks and hair conditioning oil. In addition, the oil is an ingredient in the manufacturing of paints, varnishes, and printing and engraving inks.

The high content of cellulose limits the use of the oil cake, but it can be used as manure.

Parinari fruit and kernels are popular locally but not much traded. However, they lend themselves well to several potential food and drinks products.

There is some demand for the oil locally from SMEs that formulate skin and hair-care products. The oil has good export potential as a cosmetic ingredient.