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Trichilia emetica - Vahl

Common Name Banket mahogany, Natal mahogany,
Family Meliaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The seed coat is extremely poisonous[303 ]. The seeds are poisonous and the poisonous compounds seem to be concentrated in the seedcoat[299 ].
Habitats Locally frequent in riparian forest and in some types of munga woodland; it can be found occasionally in swamp forest, montane forest, savannah or alluvial lowland rainforest and escarpment miombo[303 ].
Range Sub-Saharan Africa - Senegal to Sudan and into Yemen; all of East Africa to S. Africa and also Angola, Namibia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Trichilia emetica Banket mahogany, Natal mahogany,

Trichilia emetica Banket mahogany, Natal mahogany,
Wikimedia.org - JMK


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Physical Characteristics

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Trichilia emetica is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Bees, Sunbirds.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Trichilia chirindensis auct. Trichilia grotei Harms Trichilia jubensis Chiov. Trichilia roka Chiov. Trichilia somalensis Chiov. Trichilia umbrifera Swynn. & Baker f.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

A sweet, milky, potable liquid is extracted from the arils[303 ]. The fleshy seed envelope is chewed as a substitute for kola[299 ]. The skinned seeds can be eaten raw or soaked in water and ground, the resultant liquid mixed with spinach dishes[303 ]. The seedcoat is poisonous and should be removed[299 , 303 ]. An edible oil is obtained from the fleshy seed envelope (the sarcotesta)[299 ]. The seeds are squeezed in water and the resulting tasty fatty suspension is used for cooking[398 ]. An oil obtained from the seed kernel is not edible because it is too bitter[299 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Epilepsy  Leprosy

The leaves can be used as an antidote for the irritation caused by the buffalo bean[303 ]. The bark is used in the treatment of pneumonia[392 ]. A macerate of the root bark is used to treat epilepsy and leprosy[299 ]. Pieces of bark or the powdered bark are soaked in warm water and used as an emetic or enema to treat intestinal ailments[299 , 303 ]. It is used in small doses only, since its effect can be violent[299 ]. The bark is used in the treatment of skin complaints[303 ]. The roots are purgative[392 ]. They are used in the treatment of colds and also to treat infertility and to induce labour in pregnant women[299 , 392 ]. The powdered root is used in the treatment of cirrhosis, river blindness, ascariasis and dysmenorrhoea[299 ]. A decoction of the bark and roots combined is a remedy for colds, pneumonia and for a variety of intestinal disorders including hepatitis[299 ]. A bitter-tasting medicinal oil, obtained by boiling the ground seed in water, is taken orally to relieve rheumatism[303 ]. The oil is applied externally as a treatment for leprosy; sores; ringworm and other parasites; skin diseases[392 ]. Agroforestry Uses:

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: The plant greatly assists in soil conservation[303 ]. It is widely planted as a windbreak in urban and rural areas[303 ]. It is sometimes used in reforestation projects[392 ]. The pressed seedcake left after oil has been extracted, with an approximate protein content of 16%, is suitable as a fertilizer[303 ]. The plant is regarded as an indicator of areas with palatable grass species[303 ]. Other Uses Two different oils are obtained from the seed - that from the fleshy envelope around the seed is called 'Mafura oil' and is edible; whilst that from the kernel, called 'Mafura butter' is too bitter to be eaten[299 ]. Commercially, the two oils are often extracted together without trying to separate them[299 ]. The fleshy envelope around the seed contains 14 - 51% oil. As well as being edible, it produces a good finish on wood surfaces and could compete successfully with other commercial wood oils[303 ]. The kernel contains 68% oil. It is used for making candles[303 ]. The oil produced from the kernels and coats of the seed combined is very good for making soap[303 ]. It is sometimes used as a cosmetic and can also be used for preserving foodstuffs[303 ]. The leaves can be used as a soap[303 ]. An aqueous extract of the leaves has shown pronounced antifungal properties against a number of plant pathogens[299 ]. The crushed seed almost completely protected cowpea seed from storage pests when mixed at a dosage of 1%[299 ]. A pinkish dye is obtained from the bark[299 ]. The wood is used as chewsticks to maintain oral health[299 ]. The wood is usually pinkish in colour with no real distinction between he sapwood and heartwood[303 ]. It is soft and light, yet firm and works well. It is vulnerable to borers and should be treated accordingly[303 ]. The wood produces beautiful furniture, which darkens with the application of furniture oil. It is also good quality for shelving, and is popular for carvings, musical instruments and various household articles[303 ]. The wood is one of the most important timbers used in woodcarving in southern Africa[299 ]. Owing to its flexibility and good turning properties, it is also good for tool handles and spears[303 ]. Trees with long, straight trunks are traditionally cut and used for dugout canoes. The wood is commonly used for fuel[303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Industrial Crop: Oil  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

A plant of the dry to moist tropics, where it is found at elevations from sea level up to 1,800 metres[303 , 392 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures fall within the range 19 - 31°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 2,300mm[303 ]. Succeeds in sun or shade[303 ]. Prefers a well-drained, rich alluvial or sandy soil and a high water table[303 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[303 ]. A fast-growing species, increasing in height by up to 1 metre a year in colder areas and 2 metres in warmer areas[303 ]. Under optimal conditions trees start producing fruit when 6 - 8 years old[299 ]. Seed yields of individual trees vary greatly per tree and per year and range from 20 - 180 kg/year, averaging 45 - 65 kg[299 ]. The tree responds well to coppicing and also produces suckers[303 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[299 ]. It is able to tolerate moderate winter drought and slight frost.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Most pharmaceuticals are synthesized from petroleum but 25% of modern medicines are based on plants.
  • Industrial Crop: Oil  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, biomass, glycerin, soaps, lubricants, paints, biodiesel. Oilseed crop types.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe, the surrounding aril should be removed by macerating the seed in water, then sowing it immediately[303 ]. Sow the fresh seed either directly in situ or into nursery bags. Germination usually takes place within 10 - 20 days[303 ]. The seedlings can be planted out 6 - 8 months later[392 ] Cuttings from one year old coppice shoots[303 ]. Layering[303 ]. Root suckers[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bitterwood, Bululu, Chipindura, Cucho, Dipugedi, Ixolo, Mafura, Mafura Butter, Mafurreira, Marba, Mchekeri, Mchengo, Mchenya, Mkhudlu, Moboba, Mothothwan, Mothowani, Movava, Mshunguti, Msichici, Msikitsi, Mtutu, Muchichiri, Munyantse, Mururi, Musukidi, Mutshikili, Muwamaji, Mutuhu, Muzaramanga, Ndilolo, Nkuhlu, Pilivili, Roka, Tihuhlu, Tinkuhlu, Umkhuhlu, Umsikili, Umtshitshivi, Vungu. Natal mahogany, Ethiopian mahogany, Christmas bells (En). Mafura (Fr). Mafurreira (Po). Mkungwina, mafura, mti maji, muwamaji, musikili, mgolimazi (Sw).

Africa, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa, Chad, Congo, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Trichilia emetica is Red Listed as Least Concern (LC).

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Trichilia dregeanaCape MahoganyTree25.0 10-12 FLMHSNM433

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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