By Rudo N.
Snot Apple Tree
Scientific Name: Thespecia garckeana
Shona Name: Mutohwe
Ndebele Name: uXakuxaku
Being home has allowed me to explore our garden. What I find interesting is the variety of indigenous trees we have, one of these being the Snot Apple Tree. This tree is often referred to as the African chewing gum because of its sweet and chewy nut; it is an African favourite.
This tree is commonly found in the warmer parts of Southern Africa, in dry forest types such as miombo woodlands, wooded grassland and Acacia woodlands. It is a pioneer tree found in fallow land and on termite mounts. As a typical pioneer species, it is highly light-demanding. It is drought resistant and tolerates light frost.
It’s easy to plant
My mother planted the trees in our garden, the seeds were put in containers while others were directly sown. Germination is very good and does not require chemical treatment for pests and diseases Germination rate is usually 40% after 15 days and 80% after 20 days from sowing. 100% germination has been found after scarification. Seed scarification is a technique to physically damage the seed coat to reduce hard seed while keeping the seed viable.
Flowering and fruiting habit
The trees are evergreen, as shown by the pictures. They start to produce fruit 2 years after establishment, during the rainy season flowering takes place and fruits ripen in the dry season which is approximately 6 months. In Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, it flowers from December to May, we are patiently waiting for ours to ripen.
Due to the fruits high sugar content, it is high in energy content, it can be consumed fresh or dried (I prefer it fresh) but when dried it is much sweeter.
The wood is easily worked but generally only suitable for small building needs such as house frames, poles and oxen yokes. It is highly valued for smaller items such as spoons, carvings, combs and tool handles. The wood is also used for firewood and charcoal. The inner bark is used to produce good quality rope fibre.
How to eat it the fruit?
The segments of the fruit are split open by hand to release the seed. You can then chew the nut.