Strychnos spinosa, the Natal orange, is a tree indigenous to tropical and subtropical Africa. It produces sweet-sour, yellow fruits, containing numerous hard brown seeds. Greenish-white flowers grow in dense heads at the ends of branches (Sep-Feb/Spring - summer). The fruits tend to appear only after good rains. It is related to the deadly Strychnos nux-vomica, which contains strychnine. The smooth, hard fruit are large and green, ripen to yellow colour. Inside the fruit are tightly packed seeds, which may be toxic, surrounded by a fleshy, brown, edible covering. Animals such as baboon, monkeys, bushpig, nyala and eland eat the fruit. The leaves are a popular food source for browsers such as duiker, kudu, impala, steenbok, nyala and elephant.
This tree can be found growing singly in well-drained soils. It is found in bushveld, riverine fringes, sand forest and coastal bush from the Eastern Cape to Kwazulu-Natal, northwards to Mozambique, and inland to Eswatini, Zimbabwe, parts of Zambia, northern Botswana, northern Namibia, Angola, Guinea Bissau, to tropical Africa, north west Madagascar, south east Madagascar at Sainte Luce Reserve, north west Ethiopia, and western Tigray at Kafta Sheraro National Park. It is able to grow in semi-arid and arid lands.
The plant, taken alone or in conjunction with extracts of other plants, is used by the Tiv people of Nigeria for snakebites, venereal disease, increasing the flow of breastmilk in lactating mothers, and enhancing physical strength.
- USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Strychnos spinosa". The PLANTS Database (plants.usda.gov). Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- Tor-Anyiin T. A; Igoli J. O; Anyam J. V; et al. (April 2015). "ISOLATION AND ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY OF SARRACENIN FROM ROOT BARK OF (Strychnos spinosa Lam.)". J. Chem.Soc.Nigeria. 40 (1): 71–75.
- Sitrit Y, Loison S, Ninio R, et al. (October 2003). "Characterization of monkey orange (Strychnos spinosa Lam.), a potential new crop for arid regions". J. Agric. Food Chem. 51 (21): 6256–60. doi:10.1021/jf030289e. PMID 14518952.
- PlantZAfrica.com description
- New Fruits for Arid Climates
- "Strychnos spinosa". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- FAO: State of Forest Genetic Resources in Kenya
- Strychnos spinosa in West African plants – A Photo Guide.