By Rudo N.
Scientific Name –Uapaca kirkiana
Shona- Mushuku, Mutongoro, Muzhanje
English- Wild loquat
The Wild loquat tree is a Zimbabwean favourite, an evergreen tree with large brittle egg-shaped leaf presenting a broader end at the base. It is mainly found in the Miombo woodlands throughout Zimbabwe at medium altitudes in good rainfall areas and is one of the indigenous trees in my home garden. We have managed to plant 13 Wild Loquat trees in our own bid towards an agroforestry development. The fruits are one of the most popular wild fruits in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, and have various names depending on the local language. For optimal growth, the tree prefers well-drained soil. Its roots are soil binding therefore it gives out ecosystem services to the surrounding plants by holding the soil it grows in and preserving it from soil erosion. For this reason, it is commonly used for watershed management. It can be grown from seeds.
Uses of the Wild Loquat Tree
- The fruit is a freshly round berry, up to 4cm across with a juicy yellow-brown pulp in which several hard-wide ridged seeds are embedded, the seeds are usually 3-4. The pulp is honeying sweet and such a satisfying taste.
- Flowering occurs at the peak of the rainy season. Trees can remain in the flowering stage for several months.
- The fruit is sold in urban markets and the best time to harvest is in the morning.
- It takes up to 10years for the tree to develop before it gives its full harvest of fruits. Our trees are under 10 years and range between 6 months- 9 years as pictured.
- The wood is fairly durable, straight-grained with white sap wood and red-brown figured heartwood.
- It is termite resistant.
- It is used to make furniture, for domestic uses such as spoons, and as timber.
- Charcoal from this tree is highly regarded and many trees are cut for this purpose.
- It is also used for firewood in areas where the demand for charcoal is low.
- The root is used to treat indigestion.
- The greenish-yellow are favourable in honey production.
A hundred grams of its fresh wild loquat gives you about a remarkable 11.8 mg of iron, joining forces with an extra-ordinary 16.8 mg of vitamin C. Plus a 123 Kcalories, 0.3 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of fat, 2.1 grams of fiber, 17 mg of calcium, 39 mg of magnesium, 15 mg of phosphorus, 375 mg potassium and 10 mg of sodium. Yet, they are mostly liked for their juicy bite and sweet beautiful taste. (https://mobileorchards.com/tag/mazhanje/).
Images provided by Rudo N.