Vangueria madagascariensis

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Local names:
Bislama (sinara), English (common wild medlar), Swahili (mviru,muiru), Tigrigna (harnkeren)

Vangueria madagascariensis is a profusely branched shrub or small tree, 2-15 m tall, with smooth grey bark and a whitish or cream slash.

Leaves opposite, elliptic-ovate or rotundate, dark green above, paler beneath, glabrous or, rarely, slightly pubescent, with acuminate or, rarely, obtuse or acute apex and prominent venation below, 7-20 x 2-11 cm. Leaf stalks 5-10 mm long. 

Flowers greenish-yellow, yellow or cream, fulvous-pubescent, borne in dense axillary cymes, sweet scented.

Fruit globose, very smooth and shiny, 3-4.5 x 2.5-4.2 cm, greenish when immature, changing to yellowish-brown when ripe, contain 4-5 woody seeds up to 1.6 cm long.

The generic name ‘Vangueria’ is derived from a Malagasy word.

Ecology

V. madagascariensis is commonly found in evergreen forest, riverine forest, wooded bushland and wooded grassland throughout Africa and into Asia and Australia. It grows naturally in riverine-lowland forests and Brachystegia-Combretum woodland. The species is fire sensitive.

Native range
Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Tree management

Coppicing and pollarding are suitable management practices. The crop is mostly semi-cultivated on farms. Because it is a light demander, the planting area should be cleared of most other vegetation. Weeding the crop until it is well established is essential.

Can retain viability for a year if dried properly. There are 500-600 seeds/kg.

V. madagascariensis is commonly found in evergreen forest, riverine forest, wooded bushland and wooded grassland throughout Africa and into Asia and Australia. It grows naturally in riverine-lowland forests and Brachystegia-Combretum woodland. The species is fire sensitive.

V. madagascariensis regenerates naturally from coppice and seed. Seed germination is difficult owing to the hard seed coat. The ripe fruit is persistent and needs to be picked directly from the tree. Unripe fruit can also be picked and stored for several days before ripening. Seeds germinate well but sporadically (taking up to 6 weeks); nicking the seed or soaking it in cold water overnight may hasten germination.

 The ripe fruit pulp is edible and has a pleasant chocolate-like flavour. The fruit is also used to add flavour to beer.

Apiculture: The pleasant-smelling flowers of V. madagascariensis attract bees, and are therefore a suitable honey source. 

This multibranched shrub or tree is popular as a source of both firewood and charcoal.

Timber: Wood is suitable for building construction, tool handles and carving. 

Medicine: Roots and bark are used in traditional medicine; for example, in Tanzania an extract from the roots is used to treat worm infections.