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Trichilia emetica – Mafura tree
- Natal mahogany
Trichilia emetica is an evergreen medium-to-large tree, up to 25 m high, with separate male and female plants. It has a dense, spreading crown. Leaflets are dark glossy green above, tips more or less rounded or broadly pointed, lower surface sparsely to densely hairy with principal side veins in 11-18 closely spaced pairs.
The flowers are sweetly scented and are a creamy green colour. The fruit is a dehiscent capsule, 18-25mm in diameter, sharply differentiated from a 5-10mm long neck. The seeds are black and almost completely enveloped by a bright red aril.
These trees are found in riverine vegetation and open woodland from KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa to Tropical Africa.
Leaf or fruit poultices are used to treat skin diseases, such as eczema. Oil can be extracted from the seeds and is used to moisturise the skin and also to manufacture soaps and hair products. It is further used medicinally to treat rheumatism and to dress wounds and cuts.
Growing Trichilia emetica
Trichilia emetica is a fast grower and can be planted throughout the year. It is able to tolerate moderate winter drought and slight frost. It should be planted from fresh seeds, otherwise germination can be difficult. It can also be propagated from cuttings. This species prefers full sun or semi-shaded areas, in soil with compost and moderate amounts of water.