A Tree Named After the God of Poo

In talking and writing we all, often say we came across this or that even though somebody else found it and should be given the credit. Well this is one case where I am not claiming that this as my finding.

On trip to the pans as described in yesterday’s blog, IAN (one of Sue’s colleagues) saw a

Ian with the fruit

very interesting looking tree with large fruit. Not only did we stop to look, but IAN drove off road to get to it and we spent at least 20 minutes there while IAN studied it.

Not knowing what it was I did some research and it turns out to be Sterculia africana or commonly known by one of the following names: African star-chestnut, Mopopaja tree, False baobab.

The family Sterculia, which this tree is classified in, is named after Sterculius of Roman mythology, who was the god of manure; this owing to the unpleasant aroma of the flowers. It’s amazing how Ian looks for and finds sh….

It is well used tree:

  • The wood is used for furniture, fence poles and house construction.
  • The gum was formerly used for making gun powder for muzzle-loading guns
  • Hairs from the fruit have been added to snuff to improve the flavour.
  • The roasted seeds are eaten.
  • In East Africa the roots, bark and leaves are boiled and the vapour inhaled for the treatment of influenza and fever.
  • In Namibia a root or bark decoction is drunk by women for the treatment of postnatal and stomach pains, a leaf infusion is drunk against cough and chest complaints, and a fruit decoction is drunk to relieve pain during pregnancy and after giving birth.
  • In Malawi the irritant hairs along the splitting point of the fruits are recorded to be burnt and the ash used as an ointment for the treatment of eye infections, especially in babies.
  • In Tanzania a root decoction is taken against back pain, hernia and dizziness, a root infusion is drunk as an aphrodisiac, and leaf decoctions are drunk against fungal infections and convulsions.


About PeteMorrie

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