Sugar Plum (Uapaca guineensis Muell. Arg.)

This fruit, with two distinct grooves, 3 to 4 seeds, and a sweetish pulp, comes from a forest tree of the Guinean savannas, extending from Sierra Leone eastward to the Central African Republic and Congo. It is most commonly found on steep slopes in open savanna woodlands, where the fruits are yellow or red when ripe. This savanna type is not highly esteemed, and seldom enters commerce. In the moist forest, however, the fruits are yellow, larger, fleshier, and much sweeter. Those forest types are sold in markets. In the unripe state they are also used as a cough medicine.2

An evergreen tree growing up to 30 m tall, this species produces a reddish timber whose many lines and intricate figures make it very attractive. Hard, durable, and a respectable cabinetmaking wood, it has been called a fine substitute for oak.3

2

Information from P. Kio.

3

This is not southern Africa’s Uapaca guineensis, a rare swamp forest tree now designated Uapaca lissopyrena Radcl.-Sm.



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