Marula Tree. (Sclerocarya birrea)

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Marula Tree. (Sclerocarya birrea)

Unread post by Guinea Pig »

The fruit are called Marula (English)/ Maroela (Afrikaans) and is definitely edible.
It's Latin name is Sclerocarya birrea.
There is a huge Marula tree behind the reception offices at Malelane Gate, and we watched a troop of monkeys enjoying themselves thoroughly. :lol:
Nkuhlu Picnic Site also has a lot of these trees.
The fruit have very funny consequences if left to "rot" - somehow it turns into a highly intoxicating substance. Elephants and baboons turn into complete drunken idiots when they eat it.
Try getting hold of the Jamie Uys movie "Beautiful people" which was made on wildlife in South Africa.
The scenes involving the rotten marulas are hilariously funny! :lol:
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Unread post by Pilane »

The fruit of the Maroela tree Sclreocarya birrea subs. caffra (in KNP) is perhaps the most well known tree in Southern Africa. Maroeals trees flowers from August to September and Male and female flowers are found on seperate trees (Male and Female trees)

The fruit contains high levels of vitamin C and sugars. Although the fruit weighs in at about 18g, only 6,5% is edible. The seed also called nuts are roasted or eaten raw and contains a lot of oil. a Beer is also made from the fruit, but about 200 maroelas are needed for a litre.......
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Unread post by Tabs »

Guinea Pig wrote:The fruit have very funny consequences if left to "rot" - somehow it turns into a highly intoxicating substance. Elephants and baboons turn into complete drunken idiots when they eat it

This is a bush-myth. Neither elephants, baboons or any other animal (and there are many which eat them) get 'drunk' on fallen Marula fruits.

As an aside, Marula fruits, and the nuts inside, have a very high concentration of Vit C - and the nuts, if you have the wherewithal to extract them, are very tasty, while the fruit is somewhat sharp.
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Unread post by Guinea Pig »

That's interesting Tabs. I don't know if you ever saw the Jamie Uys movie, if it wasn't the marulas that made drunk, what happened to the animals then? Any idea? :shock:
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Unread post by Herman »

Tabs is right about the myth - there was quite a bit of controversy about Jamie Uys' film and he later admitted that they darted the animals and filmed them while the drugs were taking effect. So no marulas involved. There were even allegations that they "lost" an elephant during the filming - it stopped breathing and they couldn't rescue it ?
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Unread post by wildtuinman »

According to the Wild in Africa mag it states that animals don't get drunk on Maroelas. A bush legend! :lol:
Another bush legend states that you can determine the sex of an unborn child by giving the mother the bark of a male or female(carrying fruit) tree.

The bark actually has got high tannin content and has anti-histamine and anti-diarrhoea properties.

Great medicine in the bush! :lol:

But what I realy want to say here is that all those nice wooden crafts and statues you c on the roads to Kruger r mstly being made of the Marula tree. These artists chop doen trees at an alarming rate! Please think twice before u buy anything from them.

ps: Maroelas has got 4 times more vitamin c than orange.
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Marula seedlings outstrip others in survival challenge

Unread post by Jakkalsbessie »

A very interesting article in KPT Vol 2 issue 14...

This is just a part of a long article:

New research has revealed that a freshly germinated marula seedling can survive for over a year without water if it is just kept moist for its first month above the ground.
In an experiment to determine what makes a savanna tree seedling survive from the rainy season in which it germinates until the rains start again the following year it was found that marula trees can survive drought more readily than some other species. Comparing different tree species showed that when seedlings were grown for the same number of days, the marula produced by far the most roots.
Marula seedlings, compared to seedlings of Silver Cluster leaf, Apple-leaf or knob thorn, then went on to survive almost twice as long without watering as the other species, surviving on average for nearly 100more days without water.

The lady who did these experiments Susan Botha did a lot of field work in Kruger and used plots in Pretoriuskop and Lower Sabie camps.
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Unread post by Jumbo »

Found this interesting snipped in this document on South African Protected Trees:

The Marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea), also on the protected tree list, is one of the most highly valued trees in the country. A large industry is based on products derived from Marula fruit, including beauty products and a famous brand of Marula liqueur. To many rural people it is a vital source of income and subsistence. The Tsonga people celebrate the Feast of the First Fruits by pouring an offering of fresh Marula juice over the graves of deceased chiefs.

I would not mind if somebody one day pour Amarula all over my grave….. :lol:
As for using the fruit for beauty products; that is a waste of some very valuable fruit IMHO! :roll:
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Unread post by MarkWildDog »

Marula Tree
(Sclerocarya birrea)

Family: Anacardiaceae

Medium-sized decidious tree with an erect trunk & rounded crown. Fruits are edible & this tree is highly-valued by South Africans. Male flowers are born on seperate trees from the female flowers, male flowers produce pollen & female flowers produce the well-known marula fruit. This tree is mostly green, but turns yellow during the February-June period.

Widespread. Occurs in various woodland areas.

Insects pollinate flowers. Leaves are browsed by elephant, antelope, giraffe & zebra.
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Marula trees.

Unread post by gmlsmit »


Sclerocarya birrea, the marula, is a medium-sized dioecious tree, indigenous to the miombo woodlands of Southern Africa, the Sudano-Sahelian range of West Africa, and Madagascar. It belongs to the same family, Anacardiaceae, as the mango, cashew, pistachio and sumac.

The tree is single stemmed with a wide spreading crown. It is characterised by a grey mottled bark. The tree grows up to 18 m tall mostly in low altitudes and open woodlands. The fruits are used in the liqueur Amarula. The distribution of this species throughout Africa and Madagascar has followed the movement of people as they migrated around the continent. It has been an important item in their diet since time immemorial. The history of the marula tree goes back thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows the marula tree was a source of nutrition as long as ago as 10,000 years B.C. In the Pomongwe Cave in Zimbabwe, it is estimated that 24 million marula fruits were eaten. Not only the fruit, but also the nuts, which are rich in minerals and vitamins.

When ripe, the fruits have a light yellow skin, with white flesh, rich in vitamin C – about 8 times the amount found in an orange – are succulent, tart with a strong and distinctive flavour. Inside is a walnut-sized, thick-walled stone. These stones, when dry, expose the seeds by shedding 2 (sometimes 3) small circular plugs at one end. The seeds have a delicate nutty flavour and are much sought after, especially by small rodents who know to gnaw exactly where the plugs are located.

The bark is used both as treatment and a prophylaxis for malaria. An infusion of the inner bark of the marula tree may be applied to scorpion stings and snake bites to alleviate pain. The leaves are chewed on to help indigestion and to treat heartburn. Marula oil, made from the seed kernel, can be used as a type of skin care oil.

Other products of fruits and the tree are useful in crafts and agriculture. Gum exudated from the stem is mixed with water and soot to make ink by certain tribes in the region. The bark also yields a red-brown dye used in colouring traditional craft ware. The fruit infusion is used to bathe tick-infested livestock and is regarded as a potent insecticide.

Almost anyone who has read a travel brochure about Africa has heard of elephants getting drunk from the fruit of the marula tree. The lore holds that elephants can get drunk by eating the fermented fruit rotting on the ground. Books have been written asserting the truth of the phenomenon, and eyewitness accounts of allegedly intoxicated pachyderms have even been made. There is however, nothing in the biology of either the African elephant or the marula fruit to support these stories.

The first flaw in the drunken-elephant theory is that it's unlikely that an elephant would eat the fruit if it were rotten. Elephants eat the fruit right off the tree, not when they're rotten on the ground. Elephants will even push over trees to get the fruit that they cannot reach with their trunks, even when rotten fruit has fallen to the ground.

Through calculations of body weight, elephant digestion rates, and other factors, studies conclude that it would take about 1.9 liters of ethanol to make an elephant tipsy. Assuming that fermenting marula fruit would have an alcohol content of 7 percent, it would require 27 liters of marula juice to come up with that 1.9 litres of alcohol. Producing a litre of marula wine requires 200 fruits. So an elephant would have to ingest more than 1,400 well-fermented fruits to start to get drunk.

It may make for a good story and a durable myth, but science suggests you're not likely to see a drunken elephant sitting under a marula tree.

However there are documented stories of Asian elephants getting drunk. Not from fermented fruit but by raiding villages and consuming the villigers rice wine. The intoxicated elephants got very aggressive, caused major damage and killed a number of people.
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