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Family: Olacaceae

Scientific name: Ximenia caffra

Authority: Sond.

Zulu names: amathunduluka, umthunduluka, umthunduluka obomvu, umgwenya

Other names: sour plum, large sour plum, Natal sourplum, monkey plum (English) grootsuurpruim, groot-suurpruim, kleinsuurpruim, pruim, sourplum, suurpruim, wildesuurpruima (Afrikaans)

Plant description: X. caffra is a spiny shrub that grows to about 5 m in height. It has elliptic leaves, greenish-to-creamy white flowers with tinged pink or red shape, edible fruits that turn golden yellowish-orange or red when ripe and are rich in vitamin C. The tree is hardy and resilient, it is drought and frost tolerant, and occurs in grassland and woodland habitats.


  • The edible fruits are eaten raw.
  • The fruits are used to make jam, jellies, and other desserts.
  • The fruits are eaten to treat scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency.
  • The fruits are used as an astringent.
  • The fruit pulp is used to make soft porridge.
  • The roots are used to treat indigestion, diarrhoea, dysentery, and blood in faeces.
  • The leaves and roots are used to treat cough, chest pain, fever, headache, and body pain. 
  • The leaves and roots are used to treat venereal disease, such as gonorrhoea and syphillis.
  • The roots are used to treat impotence in men and as an aphrodisiac. 
  • The seeds are used to extract the oil, used cosmetically as an ointment for hair and skin. The oil is also used as fuel for lamps.
  • The wood is used to make tool handles, utensils, construction, and fuelwood.
  • This tree is cultivated as an ornamental and as a fence.

Safety precaution:

Using traditional medicine responsibly can enhance your overall health and well-being. Misuse and abuse can lead to complications. You can inquire about the correct use of traditional medicine from a knowledgeable herbalist and practitioner. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine

References and further reading: 

  • Baloyi, Joseph K., and Yvonne Reynolds. “Ximenia Caffra.” National Biodiversity Institute, Aug. 2004
  • Chivandi, E., Davidson, B.C., Erlwanger, K.H., 2012. The red sour plum (Ximenia caffra) seed: a potential non-conventional energy and protein source for livestock feeds. International Journal of Agriculture and Biology, 14, p 540-544.
  • Fox, F.W. and Norwood Young, M.E., 1982. food from the veld – edible wild plants of Southern Africa. Delta Books, South Africa.
  • Janick, J. and Paull, R.E. eds., 2008. The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts. CABI.
  • Mathabe, M.C., Nikolova, R.V., Lall, N. and Nyazema, N.Z., 2006. Antibacterial activities of medicinal plants used for the treatment of diarrhoea in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 105(1-2), pp.286-293.
  • Mtshali, C.S., 1994. An investigation of environmental knowledge among two rural Black communities in Natal (Doctoral dissertation, Rhodes University).
  • Mulaudzi, R.B., Ndhlala, A.R., Kulkarni, M.G., Finnie, J.F. and Van Staden, J., 2011. Antimicrobial properties and phenolic contents of medicinal plants used by the Venda people for conditions related to venereal diseases. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 135(2), pp.330-337.
  • Ndhlala, A.R., Muchuweti, M., Mupure, C., Chitindingu, K., Murenje, T., Kasiyamhuru, A. and Benhura, M.A., 2008. Phenolic content and profiles of selected wild fruits of Zimbabwe: Ximenia caffra, Artobotrys brachypetalus and Syzygium cordatum. International journal of food science & technology, 43(8), pp.1333-1337.
  • Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. 2009 Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0 (
  • Saka, J.K. and Msonthi, J.D., 1994. Nutritional value of edible fruits of indigenous wild trees in Malawi. Forest ecology and Management, 64(2-3), pp.245-248.

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