Vitex mombassae Vatke In East and southern Africa, the ripe fruits of this species are picked by the wayside, eaten in homes, and even sold in markets. They are borne in profusion and are eagerly sought. It has been said that Pedi women willingly donate a day’s work for permission to gather mphu from a farmer’s property. The fruits are eaten fresh but are also boiled up into a sweet, black concoction used at least in part for strengthening and flavoring tobacco.

Vitex pooara Corbishley Another southern African species (or perhaps the same as V. mombassae), this tree is typically 4-5 m. tall with small, violet-hued flowers. The fruits are 2 cm long, very dark purple or black when ripe, and the calyx may enclose half the fruit. In South Africa’s Waterberg region the fruits become so plentiful in season they constitute an important part of the Pedi diet. One drawback is that the juice may stain the mouth; after eating these chocolate berries everyone has black lips.

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