Mad about Marula: Interesting facts about this magical tree and its fruit
The marula tree, along with the delicious marula fruit it bears, has a long history with Africa, one that dates as far back as 10,000 BC. Needless to say, this special tree has deep roots in the continent and not only features in countless African fables, but its fruit also offers a range of uses that go beyond it simply providing a tasty snack. Between mid-January and mid-March, these ripe, golden ovals find their final resting place on the ground, just waiting to be hand-harvested and turned into the famous creamy drink so many people across the world have come to know and love: Amarula. The marula fruit is magical in more ways than one, and here we round up all the interesting facts we can about this African favourite and the tree that gives it life. How many do you know?
Many of you may be wondering what this is exactly. Well, dioecious trees are in fact those that have a specific sex. In the case of the marula tree, it’s only the female ones that bear both flowers and fruit, whereas the male ones only bloom.
Did you know?
According to Venda culture, there’s the belief that bark infusions from the marula tree can be used to determine the sex of a baby (male for male and vice versa). Should the child end up being the opposite sex, it is considered extra special as it is considered to have disobeyed the spirits.
It offers a range of health benefits
The amount of Vitamin C found in a single marula fruit is eight times that of the amount found in an orange, making it an excellent source of the vitamin. Marula fruit is also rich in oleic acids and other antioxidants, the latter of which plays a role in the prevention of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. There are also multiple other benefits for the bones, skin and muscles that the fruit provides.
The seeds are special too
The seeds found in marula fruit are located inside the walnut-sized stone in the middle and have a very delicate and distinct aroma. They are eaten as nuts by both humans and animals alike, with the oils extracted from them being used for cooking, as well as skin and hair health. The nuts contain high levels of protein and minerals such as iron, phosphorous, copper, magnesium and zinc, so they’re good for you too.
A few other interesting facts:
- The skin of the fruit can be dried, burned and then used as a coffee substitute.
- When marula fruit is raw, it is green in colour, but turns yellow once it ripens.
- One marula tree can produce up to 500kg of fruit a year.
- Marula oil is commonly used as an ingredient in a variety of cosmetics.
- The nuts are considered to be a mark of friendship by some African people.
- When cooked, the fruit can be turned into jam, juices, jelly and of course, our favourite Amarula liqueur.
The marula tree and the fruit it bears are truly amazing and it’s really no wonder that they’re such an African icon. With so much to offer, it’s easy to understand why it’s beloved by all across the globe. Here’s to the magical marula and all the wonder it brings.
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Image credits: http://www.opulentliving.co.za