banner archives

 

Worsboom

Special mention is made of the two sausage trees (Kigelia Africana) at the office that have flowered twice this summer. The sausage tree is relatively well known and easy to identify when in flower and bearing fruit.

Its alternate common name is cucumber tree and in Afrikaans it is called a Worsboom. In Africa it occurs from Chad to the northern parts of South Africa and occurs in the west from Namibia to Senegal.

At Ingwelala the sausage tree is not evergreen, behaving like a true deciduous, shedding its leaves through the dry winter months. After the leaves flush in early summer it then flowers before bearing the sausage type fruit. The fruit are borne on extremely long stems. These stems can be several feet in length.

Sausage trees can attain a height of up to 18 metres.Flowers are large and their colour is a stunning deep and dark red-purple with yellow veins. Flowers remain in bloom at night and are strong scented to attract bats for pollination purposes, feeding on the nectar and pollen.

Nyalas are particularly fond of feeding on the fallen flowers, as do grey duikers and impalas.

The large sausage shaped fruits (up to 10kg in mass) are eaten by Ingwelala occurring species such as giraffe, elephant, hippo, monkeys and baboons which aid seed dispersal through dunging. Brown-headed parrots feed on the fruit seeds. Sunbirds relish the nectar.

Interesting facts:

  • Fruits, seeds, roots and bark of the sausage tree are used widely in African cultures for various treatments of ailments and domestic uses:
  • Seeds are roasted and used for beer fermentation.
  • Dye is extracted from roots.
  • Crushed fruits forming powders are used to remedy syphilis, open wounds, ulcers and snakebites.
  • Mokoros (dug-out canoes) are made from the trunks.
  • The wood is durable and used for basic furniture, shelving and yokes.
  • Bark boiled in water is used for enemas.
  • Several commercial skin care products include Kigelia as an ingredient. To the best of my knowledge modern science has done some testing for Kigelia to aid in treatment of skin cancers.
  • Sausage trees can be grown relatively easily. They are fast growing and prefer warmer areas, though young trees require protection from frost. The location of planting a sausage tree should be carefully considered as falling fruit can damage vehicles and humans.

Kigelia Africana flowers

Young fruit, note the sausage shape

Young fruit, note the sausage shape

 

Facts researched on the Internet, words by John Llewellyn.