On a recent day trip from Pretoria we passed by some Marula trees. The Sclerocarya(“hard nut”) birrea(species) or commonly known as the Marula is one of southern Africa’s most valued deciduous trees. Male and female flowers develop on the separate trees with insects pollinating the flowers. The trees grow best under warm conditions in many of South Africa’s Game Parks including Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal.
When ripe, the fruit turns yellow and is thought to be savoured by humans, elephants, giraffe, kudu and warthogs for over 12,000 years. Fruit pulp, essential oils and edible oils emanate from its fruit, nut, leaf and bark. Marula oil is extracted from the kernels which rival the richness of the best virgin olive oils.
The softwood as seen on a safari from Pretoria is often carved into canoes and drums, ill effects of insect bites are wrought from its astringent bark with leaves having healing powers for burns and abscesses.
Legend has it…… as the Marula fruit ripens and falls to the ground, many a monkey and elephant can ill resist, nor can the sun, turning the fruit into a fermented alcoholic bush snack!
Monkey and elephant snack away till they sway….…
Check out the movie from the ’80s, “The Gods must be Crazy” by Jamie Uys, well worth a laugh!