According to Flora of West Tropical Africa[FWTA]
Anacardiaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:2. 1958
- A savannah tree, to 40 ft. high,
- Grey fissured bark
- Stout branchlets
- Pale foliage
- Flowers greenish-white or reddish
- Fruits yellow, thick-skinned, resembling a small mango
- Sterile regrowth shoots often with coarsely serrate leaflets
- In the drier savannah regions.
According to Kew Species Profiles[KSP]
Kew Species Profiles
- General Description
Marula is an African tree, the juicy fruits of which are highly prized by humans and other animals.
An African tree with juicy fruits that are much sought after by many local people, marula is a member of the Anacardiaceae, the same plant family to which mangos and cashews belong. Marula fruit is highly prized by many animals, from elephants to mongooses – although the story that they can get drunk on fermented fruit is probably just fiction. The fruit pulp is made into a popular alcoholic drink, known as maroela mampoer or amarula.
- Species Profile
Geography and distribution
Marula is distributed from Senegal to Ethiopia and south to South Africa and is also found in Madagascar.Description
Overview: A tree up to 18 m tall, with a rounded crown (the leafy part of the tree) and cracked, grey bark. Trees are either male or female.
Leaves: Divided into 7‒21 leaflets with separate points of attachment along a central axis.
Flowers: Small, whitish-purple to red, in tight groups on long stalks (male flowers) or in clusters of 1‒3 (female flowers).
Fruit: Yellow, round or egg-shaped, 2.5‒5.0 cm across, with a juicy flesh surrounding a hard stone.Uses
Marula fruit is prized by many African people. It has a delicate nutty flavour and contains a higher concentration of vitamin C than oranges. The stone is high in protein, and the seed oil contains antioxidants.
A decoction of the bark is used medicinally against malaria, scorpion and snake bites, dysentery, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. An infusion of the fruit is used to bathe cattle with the aim of destroying any ticks present.
The wood is used for furniture, planks, carving and utensils. Rope is made from the inner bark, and the bark also yields a red-brown dye used in traditional crafts. The nectar attracts insect pollinators, and marula is often planted to attract pollinators to farms.Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.
Eight collections of marula seeds are held in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.
See Kew’s Seed Information Database for more information on Sclerocarya birrea seedsCultivation
Marula can be grown from seed or from sticks planted during the early rainy season. It can grow up to 1.5 m in a year but will not tolerate frost.This species at Kew
Sclerocarya birrea is grown in the behind-the-scenes Tropical Nursery at Kew.
Dried and alcohol-preserved specimens of Sclerocarya birrea are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. The details of some of these specimens, including some images, can be seen online in Kew’s Herbarium Catalogue.
View details and images of specimens
Specimens of marula wood and bark and a box of marula-flavoured biscuits are held in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Building, where they are available to researchers by appointment.
- Wooded grassland, woodland, bushland on rocky hills.
- Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria; widespread and locally common.
According to Flora of Tropical East Africa[FTEA]
Anacardiaceae, J. O. Kokwaro (University of Nairobi). Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1986
- A spreading deciduous tree up to 18 m. high; bole pale grey, widely reticulate and flaking in small or large scales.
- Leaves variable, 7–37-foliolate, 10–38 cm. long; rachis semicylindric, grooved above, glabrous; leaflets round, ovate, obovate, elliptic or oblong-elliptic, 0.8–9(–11) cm. long, 0.7–3.5(6) cm. broad, acuminate or cuspidate to obtuse or apiculate at the apex, asymmetric and slightly cuneate or rounded at the base, margin entire to dentate-serrate (especially on new outgrowths), lateral ones sessile or with petiolules up to 3 cm. long, the terminal petiolule up to 5 cm. long, membranous to semicoriaceous, glabrous; midrib prominent beneath; lateral nerves distinct on both sides and impressed or slightly raised and reticulate beneath.
- Male inflorescences 7–22 cm. long; peduncle puberulous; bracts ovate, ± 2 mm. long by 1.5 mm. broad, obtuse, puberulous or glabrous. Male flowers:sepals ± 2 mm. long and broad; petals oblong-ovate, 4–6 mm. long, 3–4 mm. broad, obtuse, yellow to dark red with cream margins; filaments ± 3 mm. long; anthers 1–1.5 mm. long.
- Female inflorescences shorter, usually 1 or 2(–3)-flowered; peduncle and pedicels thickened during fruiting stage; sepals and petals similar to ♂; staminodes present; ovary subglobose. Male inflorescences 7–22 cm. long; peduncle puberulous; bracts ovate, ± 2 mm. long by 1.5 mm. broad, obtuse, puberulous or glabrous. Male flowers:sepals ± 2 mm. long and broad; petals oblong-ovate, 4–6 mm. long, 3–4 mm. broad, obtuse, yellow to dark red with cream margins; filaments ± 3 mm. long; anthers 1–1.5 mm. long.
- Female inflorescences shorter, usually 1 or 2(–3)-flowered; peduncle and pedicels thickened during fruiting stage; sepals and petals similar to ♂; staminodes present; ovary subglobose.
- Drupe obovoid, 3–3.5 cm. in diameter, yellow and with a very juicy mesocarp; stone obovoid, 2–3 cm. long, 2.5 cm. in diameter.
- Seed 1.5–2 cm. long, 0.4–0.8 cm. wide.
According to Project MGU - Useful Plants Project (UPP) database[UPPd]
- Back ache Bark - Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants of Tswapong north, in eastern Botswana: A case of plants from Moswue and Seolwane villages Bark is used to treat toothache. Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
- Infections & Infestations
- Bark - Field guide to trees of Southern Africa The bark is used to treat enlarged spleens Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. Bark used to treat malaria Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. Bark used to treat fever Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
- Digestive System Disorders
- Bark - The Shell field guide series: Part I: Trees and Shrubs of the Okavango Delta. Medicinal uses and nutritional value. Used to treat dysentry Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. The bark is used to treat constipation. Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. Leaves are eaten for heartburn. Leaves - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. The bark is used to treat stomach troubles. Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. The bark is used to treat enlarged livers. Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. Bark used to treat diarrhoea Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
- Skin or Subcutaneous Cellular Tissue Disorders
- Bark used to treat ulcers Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
- Shade Shelter
- Entire plant - Medicinal and Edible wild fruit plants of Botswana as emerging new crop opportunities
- Other Game Animals Leaves - Field guide to trees of Southern Africa
- Local Cultural Disorders
- The roots of this plant with those of Zanthoxylum calybeum and Capparis tomentosa are pounded and the filtration mixed with liquor as a treatment for internal body harm referred to as 'Kati' (Kamba) Roots (incl. Rhizomes etc) - Medicinal Plants of East Af
- Tools Stems - Medicinal and Edible wild fruit plants of Botswana as emerging new crop opportunities Vehicles - Its wood is used to make canoes. Stems - Medicinal and Edible wild fruit plants of Botswana as emerging new crop opportunities Tools - The wood is used to make mortars and utensils. Stems - Medicinal and Edible wild fruit plants of Botswana as emerging new crop opportunities
- Genitourinary System Disorders
- Uteral sore and strengthen vaginal muscles Bark - Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants of Tswapong north, in eastern Botswana: A case of plants from Moswue and Seolwane villages
Benin, Burkina, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaïre
Sclerocarya birrea (A.Rich.) Hochst. appears in other Kew resources:
Herbarium Catalogue (25 records)
|Date Identified||Reference||Herbarium Specimen||Type Status|
|Jan 1, 1980||Ern, H. , Togo||K000452135|
|Jan 1, 1980||Ern, H. , Togo||K000452136|
|Jan 1, 1980||Ern, H. , Togo||K000452137|
|Mar 1, 1969||Virgo, K.J. , Nigeria||K000452133|
|Jan 1, 1965||Morton, J.K. , Ghana||K000452128|
|Onochie, C.F.A. , Nigeria||K000452132|
|Wit, P. , Nigeria||K000452134|
|Dalziel, J.M. , Ghana||K000452138|
|Holtz , Tanzania||K000423403|
|Heudelot, D. , Senegal||K000423407|
|Schimper , Ethiopia||K000423408|
|Schimper , Ethiopia||K000423410|
|Ash, J. , Ethiopia||34534.000|
|Hoyle, A.C. , Sudan||9847.000|
|Bally, P.R.O. , Kenya||11487.000|
|Tweedie, E.M. , Uganda||30525.000|
|Espirito Santo, J. , Guinea-Bissau||K000452123|
|Chevalier, A.J.B. , Mali||K000452124|
|Tutin, C.E.G. , Senegal||K000452125|
|Sihronen, J. , Burkina Faso||K000452126|
|Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. , Burkina Faso||K000452127|
|Kitson, A. , Ghana||K000452129|
|Kitson, A. , Ghana||K000452130|
|Kitson, A. , Ghana||K000452131|
First published in Flora 27(Bes. Beil.): 1 (1844)
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-  (2009) Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517
-  Mannheimer, C.A. & Curtis, B.A. (eds.) (2009) Le Roux and Müller's field guide to the trees and shrubs of Namibia , rev. ed.: 1-525. Macmillan Education Namibia, Windhoek
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-  (1989 publ. 1990) Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 3: 1-659. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps
-  (1986) Flora of Tropical East Africa , Anacardiaceae: 1-59
-  Boudet, G., Lebrun, J.P. & Demange, R. (1986) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Mali . Etudes d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux
-  Boulvert, Y. (1977) Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 3: 1-89. ORSTROM, Bangui
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-  Lebrun, J.-P., Audru, J., Gaston, A. & Mosnier, M. (1972) Catalogue des Plantes Vasculaires du Tchad Méridional . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort
-  (1954-1958) Flora of West Tropical Africa , ed. 2, 1: 1-828
-  Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants of Tswapong north, in eastern Botswana: A case of plants from Moswue and Seolwane villages
-  Field guide to trees of Southern Africa
-  Sacande, M., Sanou, L. & Beentje, H. J. (2012). Guide de Terrain des Arbres de Burkina Faso. Kew Publishing, Kew.
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Medicinal Plants of South Africa. Briza, Pretoria.
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-  in Flora 27, Bes. Beil. 1 (1844)
Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa
Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
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Kew Species Profiles
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