Exotic fruit prized by humans and pachyderms alike

If anyone was to ask me, what single smell conjures up memories of the African bush, it has to be the scent of Marula fruit on a hot summer’s day. The sweet aroma of these little fruits is unmistakable and very appealing.

People who are not from South Africa might not be familiar with the fruit in its’ natural form, however there is a creamy liqueur that is exported around the world and is quite popular, that uses the fruit as one of its’ chief ingredients and is called Amarula.

You will be hard pressed to find a tree more aesthetically pleasing and versatile than the Marula tree (Sclerocarya Birrea). This tree can grow up to 18 metres tall and has a grey flaky bark with a spreading crown.  According to the book “Making the most of indigenous trees” the tree bears its’ golden fruit from January to March when countless varieties of animals indulge in what this deciduous tree has to offer.

Aside from the flesh of the fruit, which can be used for making jam and juice the seeds contain nuts which can be eaten raw or roasted. An essence made from the leaves is said to have anti-inflammatory qualities according to the website: www.marula.org.za.

Something that the aspiring horticulturalist will find interesting is that these trees are relatively easy to propagate and are fast growing and drought resistant. According to “Making the most of indigenous trees”  which is a fantastic wealth of information on trees, by planting the seed in a nursery bag full of river sand you are able to sprout seedlings. If you are able to accrue a truncheon which is about 2 metres in length you can plant it in early spring.

So for all of the visitors to the Kruger National Park and Marloth Park, look out for the iconic Marula tree. There are female and male trees, with only the female producing the fruit. As a reminder of your trip to South Africa, you will be able to pick up a bottle of Amarula liqueur at the duty free section of the airport.