Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst. - Anacardiaceae - marula, Marula-Baum, Elefantenbaum
Evergreen dioecious tree, indigenous to Southern Africa and West Africa; fruits plum-sized, thick green to yellow peel (mature), fruit flesh white, translucent, highly aromatic sweet-sour.
Two varieties are known:
Sclerocarya birrea subsp. birrea - birrea: from the vernacular name „birr“ in Senegal
Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra - syn.Sclerocarya caffra Sond. - caffra: of Caffraria, historic name for South Africa
„The tree grows up to 18 m tall mostly in low altitudes and open woodlands. The fruits are used in the liqueur Amarula. The distribution of this species throughout Africa and Madagascar has followed the Bantu in their migrations, as it has been an important item in their diet since time immemorial. The fruits which ripen between December and March have a light yellow skin, with white flesh, rich in vitamin C—about eight times the amount found in an orange—are succulent, tart with a strong and distinctive flavour.“ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sclerocarya_birrea
„A popular, fermented alcoholic beverage is prepared from the ripe fruit. The yeast occurring naturally in the fruit is normally used for spontaneous fermentation. This beverage, commonly known as marula beer, has approximately twice as much ascorbic acid as orange juice and thus is an excellent anti-scorbutic. The juice is also used to manufacture liqueur.“ http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/AFTPDFS/Sclerocarya_birrea_ssp._caffra.pdf
„Head-space volatiles of the fruit pulp and the whole fruits (skin volatiles) were investigated using solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) and GC–MS. The two major compounds in the fruit pulp were β-caryophyllene (91.3%) and α-humulene (8.3%). Thirty volatiles representing 88.7% of the total composition were identified in the head-space of the whole fruits. Heptadecene (16.1%); benzyl 4-methylpentanoate (8.8%), benzyl butyrate (6.7%), (Z)-13-octadecenal (6.2%) and cyclo-pentadecane (5.7%) were present in levels higher than 5%. The major alcohol detected in the head-space of the whole intact fruits was (Z)-3-decen-1-ol (8.4%).“
[Head-space volatiles of marula (Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra). Viljoen, A. M., Kamatou, G. P. P., Başer, K. H. C., South African Journal of Botany, Vol.74(2), 2008, 325-326]
„Sclerocarya birrea (Anacardiaceae) is a popular African wild tree distributed in many African countries where the leaves, stem bark, root, and fruits are used in food and traditional medicine; the fruit is rich in ascorbic acid… The fruit contains a hard brown seed. The seed encloses a soft white kernel rich in oil and protein. The oil contains oleic, palmitic, myristic, and stearic acids; the kernel protein contains amino acids, with a predominance of glutamic acid and arginine. The extracts from different parts showed high total phenolic compounds and radical-scavenging capacities and antioxidant activities.“
[Sclerocarya birrea (Marula), an African tree of nutritional and medicinal uses: a review., Mariod, A. A., Abdelwahab, S. I., Food Reviews International, 28(4), 2012, 375-388]
„Marula fruit pulp is reported to have vitamin C content higher than that of most fruits, ranging from 62 mg/100 g to over 400 mg/100 g. Additionally, Marula fruit is reported to have an antioxidant capacity of between 8 and 25 mM, (ascorbic acid equivalents) and a total phenolic content ranging from 7.5 to 24 mg/g dry weight gallic acid equivalent.“
[A review of the proximate composition and nutritional value of Marula (Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra)., Hiwilepo-van Hal, P., Bille, P. G., Verkerk, R., van Boekel, M. A., Dekker, M., Phytochemistry Reviews, Vol.13(4), 2014, 881-892]
Sclerocarya birrea, photographer: Marco Schmidt, 2009, Burkina Faso, Léraba, Niansogoni
Brunken, U., Schmidt, M., Dressler, S., Janssen, T., Thiombiano, A. & Zizka, G. 2008. West African plants - A Photo Guide. www.westafricanplants.senckenberg.de. - Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.