Mongongo – Ricinodendron rautanenii
Mongongo, Ricinodendron rautanenii, once called Ricinodendron, is a nut bearing tree, member of the family Euphorbiaceae and of the genus Schinziophyton. The Mongongo is a large tree that reaches 15-20 meters in height. It is found on overgrown hills and amidst sand dunes, and is connected with the Kalahari sand soil-types. The foliage are a distinctive hand-shape, and the light yellow wood is both lightweight and robust. The yellowish blossoms take place in slim, informal sprays.
Mongongo Fruit and Nuts
The velvety, egg-shaped fruit is known as Mongongo nut or manketti nut or mongongo fruit. They mature and fall on the ground between early March and late May every year, and have a thin layer of edible flesh surrounding a dense, tough shell. Within the husk is a tasteful and extremely wholesome tasting nut.
The mongongo is found widely throughout south-central. There are numerous belts of dispersion, the largest of which extends from northerly Namibia into northern Botswana south-western Zambia and western Zimbabwe.
The fruit and nuts of the mongongo tree are very popular. Their popularity stems in part from their good flavor, and in part from their good keeping qualities. Traditionally, after skinning, the fruit is cooked in water until the pulp separates from the tough inner nuts. The pulp is eaten, and the nuts are kept to be roasted later on.
Often nuts are gathered from elephant dung as they make it undamaged and elephants do the hard work of gathering up the nuts. Once dry, after roasting, the external casing breaks easily, exposing the nut that is cased inside a soft, inner shell. The nuts are either consumed straight, or pounded as constituents in other dishes. The nuts are very rich in vitamin E (docopherol), 565mg/100gr.
The oil from the nuts has been traditionally employed as a body rub in the dry winter months, to moisten the skin. The wood, being both light and strong it makes first-class fishing floats also toys and packing cases.
Mongongo Propagation Methods
Plant propagation is by mainly by seed. The tree fruits after 15-25 years of growth and may live up to 100 years. Once established, the tree requires very little attention.
mongongo, ricinodendron rautanenii
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