Thursday, 9 February 2017
Dacryodes edulis or safou is a fruit tree native to Africa, sometimes called Atanga (Gabon), Ube (Nigeria), African pear, bush pear, African plum, Nsafu, bush butter tree, or butterfruit.
Dacryodes edulis is an evergreen tree attaining a height of 18–40 m in the forest but not exceeding 12 m in plantations. It has a relatively short trunk and a deep, dense crown.
The bark is pale gray and rough with droplets of resin.
The leaves are a compound with 5-8 pairs of leaflets. The upper surface of the leaves is glossy.
The flowers are yellow and about 5 mm across. They are arranged in a large inflorescence. The tree flowers at the beginning of the rainy season and bears fruits during 2 to 5 months after flowering.
The fruit is an ellipsoidal drupe which varies in length from 4 to 12 cm. The skin of the fruit is dark blue or violet, whereas the flesh is pale to light green.
There are two variants of Dacryodes edulis: edulis and parvicarpa. The fruit of edulis is larger and the tree has stout, ascending branches. parvicarpa has smaller fruit and slender, drooping branches.
Habitat and Range
The preferential habitat of D. edulis is a shady, humid tropical forest. However, it adapts well to variations in soil type, humidity, temperature and day length.
The natural range extends from Angola in the South, Nigeria and Sierra Leone in the West and Uganda in the East. It is also cultivated in Malaysia, apparently.
The main use of D. edulis is its fruit, which can be eaten either raw, cooked in salt water or roasted. Cooked flesh of the fruit has a texture similar to butter. The pulp contains 48% oil and a plantation can produce 7-8 tons of oil per hectare. The fat content of this fruit is much higher compared to fruits such as apple, guava, and pawpaw. It is also rich in vitamins. The kernel can be used as fodder for sheep or goats. The flowers are useful in apiculture. Shade tolerant traditional crops, such as Xanthosoma sagittifolium and taro can be co-cultivated with D. edulis.
The wood of D. edulis is elastic, greyish-white to pinkish. The wood has general use for tool handles, and occasionally for mortars, and is suitable for carpentry.
The seed of Dacryodes edulis is rich in different proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, crude fibres, appreciable amounts of potassium, calcium, magnessium and phosphorus. It is also rich in essential amino acids such as Lysine, Phenylalanine, Leucine, Isoleucine. It contain a considerable amount of fatty acis such as palmitic acis, oleic acis and Linoleic acids. Physicochemical analysis suggested that the seed have valuable functional attributes of industrial interest
The tree is also a source of many herbal medicines. It has long been used in the traditional medicine of some African countries to treat various ailments such as wound, skin diseases, dysentery and fever. The extracts and secondary metabolites have been found to show biological activities such as antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti sickle-cell disease. A wide range of chemical constituents such as terpenes, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids and saponins have been isolated from the plant.
The resin is sometimes burnt for lighting or used as a glue.
The tree is used as an ornamental plant and is known to improve soil quality by providing large quantities of biomass.