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Balanites maughamii

   (Family: Balanitaceae)
Afrikaans: Fakkelhout, groendoring English: Torchwood  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Tree
Tree No.: 251
Height: 10 - 20m
Special properties:
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Biome: Savanna
Flowering time EDIT
            x x x x x  
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
Flower shape
  Flower scent EDIT
  Flower info
  Inconspicious greenish-yellow flowers are produced in Spring. Flowers are borne in small clusters in leaf axils, are star-shaped, small, bisexual, scented, greenish yellow, hairy above and smooth below. The flowers have 5 sepals and petals, 10 stamens.
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf type
Leaf arrangement
Leaf texture Smooth
Bark / Stem type    Has thorns / Spines
  Leaf info EDIT
  Unevenly forked, green thorns and the paired leaflets, which are densely velvety when young, but become smooth on the upper surface at maturity. Leaves are leathery with velvety hairs when young, grey-green, alternatively arranged, compound, with two elliptic to ovate to round leaflets; the margin is entire, the apex is rounded and the base tapering. The central vein of the leaf is slightly off-centre and the base is unequal.
Fruit type EDIT
Fruit colour
Edible, but bitter.
  Seeds per fruit 5
  Seed size Length: 60mm   Width: 30mm
  Seed info EDIT
  The ovary is 5-chambered with one seed in each chamber. The brownish yellow fruit is a thin, fleshy oval drupe, 30-60 x 20-30 mm, usually distinctly grooved. The bitter flesh covers a large, hard, stone kernel. The fruit is ripens between May and July.
Description EDIT
Torchwood is a relatively tall tree of up to 20m in height.
Growing EDIT
Distribution EDIT
Occurs in open savanna, often along rivers.
Confined to the extreme eastern parts of South Africa, but has a much wider distribution in tropical Africa.
History EDIT
The roots are a popular ingredient of ritual emetics and the bark is reported to be applied in the form of cutaneous implantations to strengthen the body.

The fruits are lethal to fresh-water snails and other organisms and have been recommended for the eradication of bilharzia.
The fruits are also used to treat coughs.

Balanites species are potential sources of starting materials for the steriod industry.

The hard timber has been used to make wooden bowls, panga handles and stocks for guns.
Ecology EDIT
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  • Ben-Erik van Wyk, (2005), Medicinal Plants of South Africa ,Briza Publications  


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