This interesting moment in the ripening of Trichilia emetica subsp. emetica fruit was witnessed in January in the Kruger National Park. All look ripe and ready, while just one has started splitting open.
The fruits are pale cream-green globules, woody capsules of about 2,5 cm in diameter with a distinct neck attaching to the stalk. (The neck on the fruit distinguishes the tree from T. dregeana that bears "neckless" fruit.) The surfaces of the fruits are slightly uneven.
The three seams on the fruits where the splitting will happen, or has done so already, are clear to see. There are, however, three more indentations along the fruit surface as well, from top to bottom, down the middle of each segment where the cover still clings to its responsibility.
The generic name, Trichilia, is derived from the same word in Greek meaning in three parts, referring to the three-lobed fruit.
Black seeds are found in each fruit, scarlet-coated from the aril that covers each seed almost completely. The seeds are said to be poisonous, although they are eaten by birds. A useful dark oil applied to the skin is sometimes obtained from these seeds. Obtaining the oil requires work, however, as the seeds have to be ground and pounded, then boiled and the oil skimmed from the water (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002; Esterhuyse, et al, 2001; Venter, et al, 1996).