Sausage Tree

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Kigelia Africana – Sausage Tree

Family: Bignoniaceae

Common names

  • Sausage tree
  • Worsboom
  • UmVunguta
  • UmFongothi
  • Modukguhlu
  • Muvevha

Description

The short, squat trunk has light brown, sometimes flaky bark and supports a dense rounded to spreading crown (18 m high, 20 m wide) of leathery, slightly glossy foliage (deciduous). The huge, grey-brown fruits, 800 x 120 mm. hang from long stalks, from December (summer) to June (winter) and weigh anything up to 9 kg.

Distribution

The tree is found on riverbanks, where it may reach 20 m tall and along streams and on floodplains, also in open woodland, from KwaZulu-Natal to Tanzania.

Cultural value

In Malawi, roasted fruits are used to flavour beer and aid fermentation. The tough wood is used for shelving and fruit boxes, and dugout canoes are made from the tree in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Traditional remedies prepared from crushed, dried or fresh fruits are used to deal with ulcers, sores and syphilis – the fruit has antibacterial activity. Today, beauty products and skin ointments are prepared from fruit extracts.

Growing Kigelia africana

The tree is easily propagated from fresh seed sown in river sand.

Plant alongside rivers and dams on farms and game farms. It is also suitable for large estates and municipal parks. It tolerates temperatures ranging from about 4°C to 40°C.