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Useful Tropical Plants

Boscia albitrunca

(Burch.) Gilg & Gilg-Ben.

Capparaceae

+ Synonyms

Boscia pechuelii Kuntze

Capparis albitrunca Burch.

Common Name: Shepherd's Tree

Boscia albitrunca
Trunk of an old, gnarled tree
Photograph by: Paul Godard
Creative Commons License
Boscia albitrunca Boscia albitrunca Boscia albitrunca Boscia albitrunca Boscia albitrunca Boscia albitrunca

General Information

Shepherd's tree is a much-branched evergreen tree that produces an abundance of small, sweet-smelling flowers[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
,
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. It has a dense, rounded crown and grows up to 10 metres tall[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].
Dubbed a 'tree of life', it provides a range of food and water for local people[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The San, for example, seek out its old hollow trunks for the water they hold[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Many African groups regard this tree so highly they forbid anyone destroying it[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Known Hazards

Swallowing the seed is said to cause sickness[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
], though another report says that they are edible[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Botanical References

308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.

Range

Africa - drier areas of S. Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Habitat

In drier woodlands and bush, sometimes on termite mounds[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height10.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant for the drier areas of the tropics and subtropics.
Requires a sunny position. Established plants are very drought resistant[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Edible Uses

The smooth-skinned, cherry-sized fruits are orange-yellow when ripe. They are rather acrid in taste and have slimy flesh, but are nevertheless widely and eagerly eaten[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Although having a short shelf life, they are easily preserved in the form of a tasty jam or syrup[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Soaked in water, they produce a sweet drink. Some are also crushed in fresh milk to make a pleasant treat[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The globose fruits are around 10mm in diameter[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
].

Seed[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. Another report says that swallowing the kernel when eating the fruit can cause sickness[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
].

The root is used as a food in times of famine[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
]. The roots contain a lot of sugar and are often used to make sweet drinks[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The bark is scraped off, the inner tissues are pounded to separate the coarsest fibres, and the resulting cassava-like pith dried in the sun[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. This white solid is pounded to a powder and boiled with water until it resembles syrup; on cooling and diluting it is ready to drink[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
The young roots are also roasted, ground, and used as a coffee or chicory substitute[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

The flower buds may be pickled in vinegar and used like capers[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Medicinal

The roots are said to have medicinal use as an all-purpose medicine[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
]. Fresh roots are placed in hot ashes and the ill person inhales the smoke from under a blanket[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
].

Other Uses

Slices of the root are used as a food preservative by placing them in and around the food to protect it from going mouldy[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. This use has been confirmed by modern research which has shown that the root has a strong antifungal action[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

The wood is used to make household utensils[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. It is said to make mortars of outstanding quality that are very resistant to cracking[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Cuttings
Root cuttings

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