Scientific name: Schinziophyton rautanenii.
Deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20m. It occurs the mean annual temperatures are about 20°C, and the maximum daily temperatures often exceed 30°C; the plant tolerates light frost, but temperatures below 7°C kill seedlings. Schinziophyton rautanenii occurs at 200–1500m altitude and grows well when the annual rainfall is 200–1000 mm. It is always found on deep sands with a 94–99% fine sand component.
In traditional medicine the roots have been used to treat stomach- ache.
The fruit is eaten by cattle and other domestic and wild animals
The fruit is edible, after removal of the fruit pulp and hard shell of the fruit, the seeds are boiled in water to extract oil. Traditionally the oil is spooned off the surface of the water and kept for later use in soups. Alternatively, the seed may be roasted. The fruit pulp, which tastes like dates but is less sweet, it is eaten raw or cooked, or it is used to produce a rather strong alcoholic brew as it has a high sugar content. The remains of the seed after oil extraction is also eaten. The trees are cut for wood and for carving or for cabinet making. The wood is very light, it is also used for fishing floats, dart- and drawing boards, as an insulating material, and for the construction of crates. The wood is also used for the construction of ox-drawn sledges that are used to transport goods in sandy areas. The inner bark is used to make strings, e.g. for nets. The pulp makes up about 26% of the fresh fruit, the seed about 9%.
The woody endocarp (seed) makes germination difficult and therefore needs to be removed or the end cut off to expose the kernel prior to sowing. After shelling, the seeds can be soaked in water for a week followed by storage under high temperature and humidity for two days in order to reach better germination. Germination is erratic and takes place over an extended period. Without pre-treatment a germination rate of
26% has been obtained If the shell is removed prior to sowing and the kernel is treated with ethylene the germination rate can reach 80% or more within 6 days. The rate of non-surviving seedlings is high but once a seedling has been established it needs little attention. The seeds should be sown in sandy soil in half shade and the temperature kept above 7°c.