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Indigenous monkeybread tree

Scientific name: Piliostigma thonningii, Bauhinia group (436)

English Name: Monkey bread

Local Name: Musekese (L, T) Mufumbe (B)

General information

Piliostigma thonningii grows scattered throughout Zambia except on the Nyika plateau. When fields are left fallow these trees often emerge. A very dominant tree in Macha area. Heavy clayey soils or medium loamy soils are preferred by this plant.

Health benefits

Used medicinally in many African countries to treat wounds, ulcers, gastric pain, heart pain, and gingivitis. A cough remedy is prepared from the root bark. Polyphenolic fractions of the root bark, exhibit potent antitussive activity. Extracts were screened for activity against Herpes simplex virus type and African swine fever virus.

Human benefits

The sapwood is straight grained and light brown, heartwood is pinkish to dark brown and contributes less bulk. Household utensils and farm implements are made from this wood. Three dyes can be obtained from the plant, the bark produces a red-brown dye, the pods produce a black and blue dye. The roasted seeds and root can also be used in dye production. The bark has a tannin content of 18%, though unquantified the roots have a considerably high tannin content. The pods are used as a soap substitute. The ashes can also be used in soap making.

Farmer benefits

 Useful fodder tree in some places the pods are collected by farmers and crushed with molasses and mineral salts. Produces considerable amounts of litter. Use of the leaf litter as mulch enhances soil fertility. This deep rooting species can be employed in soil protection initiatives. Shade or shelter: Piliostigma thonningii live stakes are used in supporting vines and other weaker plants in farms. Poles or posts are obtained from the plant.