Lannea nana Engl.
Odina edulis Sond.
Lannea edulis is a deciduous perennial plant to dwarf shrub that grows from 3 - 60cm tall[
]. The mass of this amazing plant is mostly buried out of sight beneath the soil. The subterranean trunks, that can be 13cm in diameter, creep along just beneath the surface. The branchlets bearing the leaves, flowers, and fruits stick up only slightly above the ground. The whole tree nonetheless can be very big. A single specimen may cover many square metres, but disguised in the dirt, its massive size is seldom realized[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine.
Africa - Ethiopia, DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Botswana, S. Africa.
]. In open woodlands of several types, open grassy plains, dambos (swamps), termite mounds, burnt ground, at elevations from 245 - 1,625 metres[
The plant has a deeply penetrating root system that anchors the it and endows it exceptional survivability under drought stress[
The plant is acaulescent, or at least does not develop much above the surface of the soil and thus escapes the annual fires that are so common within much of its range[
At the end of the dry season, bunches of small flowers pop out directly from the leafless stems, each bunch hanging from the bare wood and looking for all the world like creamy-yellow tinsel sprinkled over the land. People like these almost magical flowers, which are harbingers of the rains and of the better times soon to arrive[
Later, the fruits begin forming. Eventually, they hang in grape-like bunches almost touching the ground, ripening slowly from pink through scarlet to wine-red and eventually black. Inside their thin skin is found smooth green flesh and a bean-shaped stone. In most the layer of pulp is thin, but whatever there is normally is juicy and pleasantly sour. They are exceptionally popular, particularly with children. Throughout much of southern Africa, kids squeezing tree grapes between their fingers and shooting the pulp into their mouths is a common sight[
Fruit - raw[
]. A dark-purple grapelike fruit with a delicate skin, somewliat musty in flavour but pleasant after the first taste[
]. The bright to deep red, ovate, subglobose fruit is up to 11mm long and 9mm wide, containing a single seed[
The fruit is supposed to be a cure for 'black water fever'[
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