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Tree: Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica)

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Shidzidzii
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Tree: Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica)

Unread postby Shidzidzii » Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:23 pm

A poser for the experts.

Is there any chance that the flowers and/or unripe fruit of the Natal Mahogany could mislead someone into believing that it is a Ficus Burkei on the grounds that the unripe fruits are like figs?

The background is that one of the trees in Lower-Sabie which is undoubtedly a Natal Mohagany is claimed by an aquintance to be a Ficus Burkei because his 1 year old child could eat the fruits in December (no comments on parenting). The typical black seed with the red fleshy ectocarp ??? was obviously not in evidence at that time.

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Unread postby Penny » Wed Mar 08, 2006 6:42 pm

No ways is this possible - your friend is drinking his bathwater!

To elucidate - the fruite of the Trichilia species is split into three parts (hence its name - Tricho). The seeds inside these are a striking red and black and are popular with birds - especially Louries. The seeds are rich in fat and oil that has been extracted from them has been used in cooking although the outer coatings are apparently poisonous.

On the other hand the fruits of most wild figs, though edible are much less attractive than those of the cultivated fig but they are much sought asfter by monkeys and many kinds of birds. In all species the fruit has the same structure as the cultivated fig consisting of numerous small male and female flowers on the inside of a fleshy, pear-shaped receptable. There is a small pore at the apex of the fruit through which insects enter and pollinate the flowers. Wild figs of the Park may be separated into two main groups according to the position of the fruits. In one group the fruits are produced in special branched clusters on the trunk and main lateral branches. In the other group the gruits are borne on the terminal branchlets in the axils of the leaves.

Even the two trees are vastly different in leaf composition etc. so I think that what you have related is just not possible!

I would be interested to hear what one of our tree fundis has to say on this issue!
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Unread postby Jakkalsbessie » Thu Mar 09, 2006 7:32 am

Hi Mike,

I'm not an expert but there is no way the 2 could be confused.
Except for the factors Penny indicated above there are other factors regarding the fruits specifically that rules this out.
Natal Mahogony’s fruit are pear-shaped capsule with a distinct neck as to the Ficus Burkei (Common Wild fig) that are round berry like.
Natal Mahogony fruit is much larger 30mm long as to the small ficus ones that is a mere 7 – 11mm.
The colour is also very different.
And as Penny indicated the NM capsule split into 3 valves.
If I remember correctly NM fruiting is from December to April where the FB usually peaks during October (although some might bear fruit throughout the year).

Both fruits are edible but the fruits of the Ficus are mostly infested with insects (a good quality jam can be cooked from these… if you take time to clean/wash them properly).

NM’s skinned seeds are also edible and eaten as such (or can be soaked in water, grounded and mixed with spinach dishes :lol: ). These seeds used to be imported from Mozambique under the name of Mafura / Mafurreira nuts.
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Unread postby Shidzidzii » Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:15 am

Thank you Penny and JB. You do confirm what I know about Natal Mahogany.

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Unread postby Shidzidzii » Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:53 am

Went to have a second look over the weekend and the explanation is that the two species are about 4m from each other and the canopies are intertwined .

So each person was tal;king about the same spot but the different tree and with the salient feature - fruit - at a different time of year.

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Unread postby MarkWildDog » Sat Mar 17, 2007 11:20 am

Natal Mahogany (Trichilia Emetica)

This is a deciduous tree, which can grow up to 20m tall. They can be found in open woodland and riverine bush. The bark is smooth and is dark brown to grey in colour. Monkeys feed on the flowers and baboon and antelope eat fruit. Bark, which has been powdered down, is used as an emetic and an enema and may also be used to make a pinkish dye. The flowers are produced between August to November and fruit is found between December to April.

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Unread postby mountainview » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:35 pm

Hi Mark

Natal Mahogany is evergreen. See Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa, p468 Braam van Wyk and Piet van Wyk. As I attempted to grow these in Glen Austin in Midrand, I know first hand, despite having a excellent micro-climate this was one of the few trees I struggled with.
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Unread postby reinette » Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:16 pm

It was a sad day in February when I saw the 'Indaba Tree' at Pretoriuskop broken. Somewhere on film I have the tree about 4 years back. But this is the latest one on my file. I do think the Natal Mahogany is one of the most beautiful trees, and if my garden could hold one I would definitely try it, but I have quite a lot large trees around me. :)

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Unread postby Elsa » Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:48 pm

That is so sad Reinette, I wonder what caused the tree to break, could it have been a severe storm? :?
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Unread postby Wild about cats » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:01 am

It is said that this plant can remedy stomach complaints and can help with kidney problems and parasites.
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