Vangueria infausta

Botanical name

Vangueria infausta

Other names

Wild medlar; mispel (Afrikaans); umtulwa (Zulu); mothwanyê (Tswana)

Family

Rubiaceae

Dimensions

A small deciduous tree, usually 2 to 4 m in height, occasionally up to 7 m

Description of stem

Bark grey, sometimes pinkish, smooth, but peeling and rough in small irregular patches; hairs on young twigs; trunk often convoluted, multistemmed and uneven

Description of leaves

Simple, opposite, elliptic, hairy, light to yellow-green; apex and base tapering; margin entire; netveining prominent on lower surface; leaf often broadly undulating or twisted; size quite variable, reaching over 20 cm in length and 5 cm in width; galls caused by insects are commonly found on the leaf surface

Description of flowers

Yellow to whitish flowers clustered along the small twigs; appear in spring; the petals disappear early

Desciption of seed/fruit

Light brown spherical, soft fruit of over 3 cm in diameter appear in summer into autumn; 3 to 5 seeds are embedded in a soft pulp

Description of roots

 

Variation

Leaf shape

Propagation and cultivation

Can be grown from cuttings and seed, but is seldom found in cultivation; the seeds are taken out of the pulp, dried and beaten to weaken the covering before planting

Tolerances

Hardy, drought resistant, moderately cold resistant

Uses

Roots used in treatment of malaria and pneumonia; fruits are eaten by many wild animals and by people; it is quite popular with many as a veld fruit; sometimes the fruits are made into a pulp as a substitute for apple sauce in puddings, if the infestation by insects can be overcome! The alcoholic beverage, mampoer, has been distilled from the fruit

Ecological rarity

 

Pests and diseases

 

Other

Said to bring bad luck as reflected in the name 'infausta', but only some indigenous populations avoid using it

Location

In grassland, on wooded hills and among rocks in summer rainfall areas

Distribution (SA provinces)

Northern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, North West, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga

Country

South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar

 

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