Scientific name: Berchemia discolor;
Berchemia discolor is a medium to large, deciduous or evergreen tree, up to 20m tall. The leaves are opposite, simple, elliptic or sometimes elliptic-oblong, shiny dark green above, pale green below, hairless; midrib prominently raised below and ending at the margin. The flowers are borne in small clusters in the leaf axils and greenish yellow in color. It flowers in summer, from October to January. Berchemia discolor grows on a variety of soils of various origins.
The bark and leaves are used medicinally for various ailments, such as treating wounds and many more. The fruit and the bark are also used to treat infertility by the Venda people of South Africa. The juice from the fruit is used to treat bleeding gums.
The fruit and leaves can be used as fodder.
The wood, which is yellow-brown, hard and attractive, is suitable for furniture and sticks. It also makes good firewood. The fruit is edible, very sweet in taste and also used to make beer or pleasantly flavoured porridge. The tree can also be planted as a windbreaker. Humans find the sweet, date-like taste of the fruit quite pleasant. The sugar content of the pulp is as high as 30%, and seeds taste like walnuts. The vitamin C content of the fruit is 65mg/100g. The fruit may be eaten boiled with sorghum. A beverage similar to tea is made from the leaves and a strong alcoholic drink is distilled from the fruit.
Planting and tree management
Berchemia discolor grows relatively fast and can grow in various climates, from semi-arid areas to areas 300-1900m, it requires mean annual temperature: 14-30 deg. C, and mean annual rainfall of 250-500 to 760-1200mm. Nursing the crop should include regular watering, slashing and spot weeding until the plants are well established.