Bush Apothecary: The sausage tree
Long and full, the fruits of the sausage tree dangle from the bright, leafy and luscious branches of the Kigelia Africana. Everything about this tree stands out, the fantastic bulging sausage-like fruits that feed many mouths, the lime green spinach-like leaves and of course, the blood-red flowers.
The sausage tree is abundant throughout southern Africa, found in woodlands, plains and along river banks. The territory that surrounds both our camps, Kaingo and Mwamba floods during the rains. This flooding brings with it alluvial soil, a condition which can be a challenge for much vegetation. However, the sausage tree thrives under these circumstances allowing these superb trees to grow as high a 16 metres.
A whole host of animals benefit from these trees. As the weight of the sausage becomes too heavy for their pendulous stems, hippos, zebras, baboons etc feed on the fruit. What’s more, the striking flowers are a fantastic snack for antelope and baboons. The sausage tree’s leaves do not go untouched, elephants extended their excellently functional trunks into the far reaches of the trees to eat the magnesium and iron-rich leaves.
- The sausage tree can make music! Throughout Africa, the tree’s wood is used to make xylophones.
- The large sausage fruits can weigh up to 10 kgs.
- The sausage fruit makes for excellent firewood due to the oil found in the seed at the centre.
- When the fruit dries, women can use it as a treatment to make skin smooth.
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