Ximenia americana

Invasive species Disclaimer

In view of the fact that some tree species are invasive, the world Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has put in place a policy document on Invasive Alien Species, currently under draft available at Here.

For more information on this subject, please refer to
100 of the World's worst Invasive and Alien Species.

Species Index    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Multiple Criteria Search

Abelmoschus moschatus
Acacia aneura
Acacia angustissima
Acacia aulacocarpa
Acacia auriculiformis
Acacia catechu
Acacia cincinnata
Acacia crassicarpa
Acacia elatior
Acacia erioloba
Acacia etbaica
Acacia ferruginea
Acacia glauca
Acacia holosericea
Acacia karroo*
Acacia koa
Acacia laeta
Acacia lahai
Acacia leptocarpa
Acacia leucophloea
Acacia mangium
Acacia mearnsii*
Acacia melanoxylon
Acacia mellifera
Acacia nilotica subsp nilotica
Acacia pachycarpa
Acacia pennatula
Acacia polyacantha ssp. polyacantha
Acacia saligna
Acacia senegal
Acacia seyal
Acacia sieberiana
Acacia tortilis
Acacia xanthophloea
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius
Adansonia digitata
Adenanthera pavonina
Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
Agathis macrophylla
Agathis philippinensis
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus excelsa
Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
Albizia amara
Albizia anthelmintica
Albizia chinensis
Albizia coriaria
Albizia ferruginea
Albizia gummifera
Albizia julibrissin
Albizia lebbeck
Albizia odoratissima
Albizia procera
Albizia saman
Albizia versicolor
Albizia zygia
Aleurites moluccana
Allanblackia floribunda
Allanblackia stuhlmannii
Allanblackia ulugurensis
Alnus acuminata
Alnus cordata
Alnus japonica
Alnus nepalensis
Alnus rubra
Alphitonia zizyphoides
Alstonia boonei
Alstonia congensis
Alstonia scholaris
Altingia excelsa
Anacardium occidentale
Andira inermis
Annona cherimola
Annona muricata
Annona reticulata
Annona senegalensis
Annona squamosa
Anogeissus latifolia
Anthocephalus cadamba
Antiaris toxicaria
Antidesma bunius
Araucaria bidwillii
Araucaria cunninghamii
Arbutus unedo
Areca catechu
Arenga pinnata
Argania spinosa
Artemisia annua
Artocarpus altilis
Artocarpus camansi
Artocarpus heterophyllus
Artocarpus integer
Artocarpus lakoocha
Artocarpus mariannensis
Asimina triloba
Ateleia herbert-smithii
Aucomea klaineana
Averrhoa bilimbi
Averrhoa carambola
Azadirachta excelsa
Azadirachta indica
Azanza garckeana
Related Links
X. americana fruit and leaves.
© Anthony Simons
Ximenia americana slash
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Ximenia americana foliage
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Ximenia americana leaves and flowers
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Ximenia americana fruit and foliage
© Patrick Maundu
Ximenia americana
© Boffa, Jean-Marc

Local names:
Afrikaans (kleinsuurpruim), Amharic (inkoy,kol), Arabic (kelto,abu khamira,humeid abiad,ankwi,abu khamier,medica), Bemba (mulebe), Bislama (terengi), English (hog plum,wild plum,false sandalwood,seaside plum,small sourplum,sour plum,tallow nut,tallow woo

Ximenia americana is a semi-scandent bush-forming shrub or small tree 2-7 m high. Trunk diameter seldom greater than 10 cm; bark dark brown to pale grey, smooth to scaly. The lax, usually divergent branching forms a rounded or conical crown. Branchlets purple-red with a waxy bloom and the tree usually armed with straight slender spines. Sometimes semi-parasitic with haustoria on the roots.

Leaves alternate, lanceolate to elliptic, 3-8 to 1.5-4 cm, variable thickness (semi-succulent to thin); obtuse or emarginate, 3-7 pairs veins, inconspicuous. Petioles short, slender, up to 6 mm long, canaliculate. Grey-green, hairless and leathery or thin flesh. When crushed, young leaves smell of bitter almonds.

The fragrant white, yellow-green or pink flowers occur in branched inflorescences borne on shortly pedunculate axillary racemes or umbels; pedicles 3-7 mm long, both peduncles or pedicles glabrous.

Fruits globose to ellipsoidal drupes about 3 cm long, 2.5 cm thick, glabrous, greenish when young, becoming yellowish (or, rarely, orange-red) when ripe, containing a juicy pulp and 1 seed. Seed woody, light yellow, up to 1.5 cm long, 1.2 cm thick with a fatty kernel and a brittle shell.

Ximenia was named after a Spanish monk, Francisco Ximeniz. The specific name is the Latin form of ‘American’.


A mostly solitary tree dispersed in open country, savannah, gallery forest, along coastal areas, in the understorey of dry forests, in dry woodlands, or on riverbanks. X. americana is drought resistant.

Native range
Angola, Argentina, Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Gambia, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Surinam, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Tree management

For life fence purposes, trimming is necessary. Coppicing is also a recommended practice.

Seed storage behaviour is recalcitrant. There are 1400 seeds/kg.

A mostly solitary tree dispersed in open country, savannah, gallery forest, along coastal areas, in the understorey of dry forests, in dry woodlands, or on riverbanks. X. americana is drought resistant.

Seed and cuttings. The tree regenerates naturally from seed and coppice. Fresh seed should be sown for good germination.

Poison: Sambunigrine has been identified as the main cyanogenetic principle in the plant. Leaves at 100 ppm cause 100% mortality of Bulinus globus, the vector in the transmission of schistosomiasis. Bark and crushed fruit rind are applied to sores on domestic animals and to keep off fleas.

 The fruits, as well as being pleasant to eat raw, can be used to make juice, jams and jellies, or an intoxicating drink. The pulp of seed and fruit contains hydrocyanic acid, and it is advisable not to chew the seed. Kernel oil is used as a vegetable butter and as a ghee substitute. Young leaves are edible after thorough cooking.

Firewood and charcoal are the chief uses of the wood, because the trunk is usually too small to make it useful for timber.

Tannin or dyestuff: Bark is used for tanning; it contains approximately 17% tannin, which gives leather a reddish colour. Roots also used in tanning. Bark is used to strengthen indigo dyes.

Lipids: The fruit yields up to 67.4% oil from the seed that has been used as a body and hair oil. The oil is not edible, and the presence of a rubberlike substance excludes it from many industrial uses.

Medicine: Leaves and twigs are used for fevers, colds, as a mouthwash for toothache, as a laxative and an eye lotion. Leaves are used for headaches, angina, and as a poison antidote. Roots treat skin problems, headaches, leprosy, haemorrhoids, sexually transmitted diseases, guinea worm, sleeping sickness, oedema, and act as an antidote to poison. The fruit is useful in treating habitual constipation. The bark is used in decoction, dried or powdered as a cicatrisant and applied to skin ulcers; it is put on the head for febrile headache, placed in bath water for sick children, and used for kidney and heart complaints. The fruit eaten in large quantities acts as a vermifuge. A decoction of the roots or fruits is used to treat dysentery in calves.

Ornamental: X. americana has attractive foliage and flowers.

Suited to cultivation as a hedge plant.

Alcohol: In South Africa, the fruits have been used to make a kind of beer.

Essential oil: Heartwood contains an essential oil used for fumigation. The flowers have an essential oil that could be a good substitute for orange blossom.