Garcinia livingstonei

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© Mark W. Skinner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Fruit and leaves

Local names:
English (wild plum,wild mangosteen,low veld mangosteen), Swahili (mutumbi,mpekechu)

Garcinia livingstonei is a shrub or small evergreen tree to 10 m; crown dense, spreading or conical; trunk short, often twisted, occasionally multi-stemmed. Bark reddish brown to dark grey, with shallow grooves or deeply fissured, ridged and scaly, exuding yellow or red resinous latex when cut.

Leaves simple, in whorls of 3, stiff and leathery or brittle, variable in shape, sometimes with a slightly wavy edge; dark green and glossy above, dull and pale green below.

Flowers white or pale to yellowish green, 6-14 mm diameter, borne in small groups in axils of older branches. Male and female flowers normally separate, but with some bisexual flowers.

Fruits ovoid to round berries, 2.5-3.5 cm long and 2.5-3 cm broad; orange-yellow, reddish, or purple; 1-2 seeded.

Seeds creamy brown.

The generic name is after L. Garcin (1683-1751), a naturalist and a correspondent of Linnaeus.


In South Africa, it is found in scrub, open woodland and forest; in Zimbabwe, usually along rivers in the low veld and frequently in riparian and munga, mopane woodland and termite mounds in Zambia. Also found on rocky soil away from water and in open coastal forest.

Native range
Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

In South Africa, it is found in scrub, open woodland and forest; in Zimbabwe, usually along rivers in the low veld and frequently in riparian and munga, mopane woodland and termite mounds in Zambia. Also found on rocky soil away from water and in open coastal forest.

G. livingstonei is propagated by seed, air layer or grafting. Its main importance is use as root stock for the closely related mangosteen thus extending its range to dry areas.

Poison:  The yellow oily sap is used to manufacture arrow poison and decorate arrows.

Erosion control:  The tree has a bulbous base underground which holds the soil.

  The juicy fruit pulp is acid-sweet, pleasant tasting and refreshing. Fruits are eaten raw or cooked with porridge.They are  rich in carbohydrates (mainly sugars) and have moderate mineral content.

Leaves and young shoots are browsed by animals.

The tree is used as fuelwood.

Timber:  The wood is used as small timber, implements, fencing posts and rails.

Shade or shelter:  It is used as a shade tree.

Medicine: Extracts from flowers and leaves have antibiotic properties. Infusion made from roots used to treat abdominal pains during pregnancy and after giving birth. Fruit used to treat mumps.

Ornamental:  The stiff, unsymmetrical growth and the grey-green stiff foliage give the tree an unusual and striking appearance.

Alcohol:  An alcoholic drink is made from the fruit in East Africa.