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Family name: Anacardiaceae

Scientific name: Sclerocarya birrea

Authority: (A.Rich.) Hochst

Synonyms: Poupartia birrea (A. Rich.) Aubrév, Spondias birrea (A. Rich.)

Zulu names: umganu, umgane, umaganikhehla

Other names: marula (English), maroela (Afrikaans)

Short description: S.birrea is a medium-sized tree with alternate and compound leaves, reddish flowers with a raceme inflorescence, and edible one-seeded drupe fruits that turn yellow when ripe. The tree is a protected species that occurs in the miombo woodlands and grasslands of Southern Africa.


The Zulu name “umganu” is derived from the word “ukugana“, which means to get married.

The plant gets the name umganu because the bark is used to make an emetic mixture for a person who is getting married.

Related uses: The edible fruits are used to make an alcoholic beverage. The bark is used to make a decoction that is taken to strengthen the heart and cleanse the blood. The bark is used to influence the sex of the expected child in pregnant women.

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