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Sclerocarya birrea (Marula)

Marula [Pedi, Shona]; Maroela [Afrikaans]; Morula [Tswana]; Umganu [Tonga, Zulu]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid II > Order: Sapindales > Family: Anacardiaceae

The Marula tree grows to about 15 m high and is native to subtropical regions of Africa. It produces rounded, yellow fruit about 30 mm in diameter, which are very tasty and have a Vitamin C level that is 2-4 times that of oranges. Marula trees play an important role in the lives of many people in Africa. For instance, the Phalaborwa people rely on marulas as a source of fruit at times of year when other foods are scarce. They use a special instrument called a modukulu to extract the nuts inside the fruit. The Marula has huge potential as a commercial fruit and besides being grown commercially in Southern Africa, it has been experimentally planted in the Negev Desert of Israel.


  • The pulp of the fruit is delicious eating.
  • Juice is extracted from the pulp and used in the production of fruit juice blend (e.g Liquifruit )
  • Marula beer, known as mokhope or ubuganu, is brewed from Marula pulp, made both at home and commercially.
  • Fruit pulp is used to flavour the famous Amarula liqueur.
  • The fruit pulp is used for producing syrup, vinegar, jelly (it has a high pectin content), preserves and sweets.
  • The pip contains three oblong nuts that are cracked open in order to eat the kernels inside.
  • Oil from the fruit is used to glaze dried fruit but it goes rancid quite easily.
  • The oil is also used by Tsonga people in South Africa and Mozambique for cooking and it is also used by women as a moisturiser and as a baby oil.
  • The bark, roots and leaves are used for medical purposes to treat heartburn, diarrhoea, diabetes, fever and malaria.

Marula jelly from Zimbabwe. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]



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