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Ricinodendron heudelotii - (Baill.) Heckel

Common Name Manketti nut, Zambezi almond, African oil-nut-tree
Family Euphorbiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Fringing, deciduous and secondary forests, common throughout the semi-dry wooded-savannah zone[332 ]. Rain forests, but is typical of the more open, secondary formations and is common on abandoned farmland[299 , 316 ].
Range Tropical Africa - Senegal to Sudan and Kenya, south to Angola and Mozambique.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Ricinodendron heudelotii Manketti nut, Zambezi almond, African oil-nut-tree
Ricinodendron heudelotii Manketti nut, Zambezi almond, African oil-nut-tree
Laurie E. Clark and Terry C. H. Sunderland


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Ricinodendron heudelotii or Njangsa, Manketti Nut, or Zambezi almond is the sole species in the Ricinodendron genus. It is native to tropical Africa. It is a fast-growing dioecious species with an open and spreading rounded crown, and a cylindrical and straight short-buttressed bole that can be up to 120cm in diameter. It can be found in tropical Africa and grows 40m high. The leaves are alternate, with each leaf comprising 3-5 leaflets each. The fruits are drupes containing globose seeds that can be cooked - either roasted, boiled, or made into paste. The leaves can also be cooked and eaten as vegetable. Medicinally, various plant parts are used to prevent abortion, to wash and cicatrize sores, as antidote to poison, and to treat constipation, blennorrhea, cough, menstrual pain, fungal infections, elephantiasis, filaria, ophthalmia, dysentery, female sterility, edemas, stomach pains, etc. The tree is a pioneer species and used as a live fence for erosion control. The seeds contain sweet-tasting oil that is used in varnish and soap-making. The leaves are used as wrapping material. The wood is used for fishing net floats, rafts for heavy timbers, rough planks and coffins, drums and other musical instruments, and for carving. Plants are grown from seeds, stem cuttings, layering, or side grafting.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Ricinodendron heudelotii is a deciduous Tree growing to 40 m (131ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Barrettia umbrosa Sim Jatropha heudelotii Baill. Ricinodendron africanum M?ll.Arg. Ricinodendron gra


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil  Salt

Seed - cooked[332 ]. Although edible, they are not everywhere valued as food[332 ]. The kernels are eaten boiled in water or in sauce, or mixed with fish, meat and other vegetables[332 ]. They can be roasted and made into a paste, which can be stored and used for making porridge in times of food shortage[299 , 332 ]. In many areas the seeds are regarded as a famine food, for use when other foods are not available[398 ]. The black fruit is a 2 - 3-lobed drupe 25 - 30mm long and 40 - 50mm wide, containing 2 - 3, globose seeds around 15mm in diameter[299 ]. Fallen fruits are collected from the ground. After collection, the fruits are left to rot in big piles. Once the fruit pulp is rotten, the stones are extracted by washing and boiling the fruits vigorously. Then the stones are removed from the hot water, put in cold water and left overnight. They are boiled vigorously once more until the shells crack. Shells are then removed using a knife. After extraction, the seeds are dried[299 ]. The seed contains about 47% by weight of a light yellow oil with a sweet taste[301 , 332 ]. The seeds are pounded, boiled in water and then allowed to cool. The floating oil is skimmed off, boiled then filtered and used for cooking[398 ]. The oil consists of the following fatty acids: eleostearic 44%; oleic 16%; plus 10% each of palmitic; stearic; linoleic; and linolenic[332 ]. Leaves - cooked and eaten as a protein-rich vegetable[299 ]. The ash of the wood is used as vegetable salt in cooking[299 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Antidiarrhoeal  Antidote  Antifungal  Antirheumatic  Antitussive  Aphrodisiac  Dysentery  Febrifuge  
Laxative  Ophthalmic

The stem-bark is taken by enema to prevent abortion[332 ]. A decoction of the stem bark is used externally to wash and cicatrize sores[332 ]. A decoction of the root bark is considered a powerful anti-dysenteric[332 ]. The root bark is ground up into a powder then mixed with pepper and salt and used for treating constipation[332 ]. A decoction of the bark is used in the treatment of blennorrhoea, cough, painful menstruation and as an antidote to poison[332 ]. A bark-liquor is taken by pregnant women to relieve pains and to prevent miscarriage. It is also taken by women 'to kill a worm which is in the bowels and which prevents them from breeding'[332 ]. Externally, the bark is used in lotions and baths to strengthen rachitic children and premature babies, and to relieve rheumatism and oedemas[332 ]. The pulped bark (also the leaves) is applied externally to treat fungal infections, to maturate abscesses, furuncles and buboes[332 ]. The bark is beaten and warmed, then tied to the body in the treatment of elephantiasis[332 ]. The expressed sap is instilled to the eye in the treatment of filaria and ophthalmia[332 ]. The leaves are used to treat dysentery, female sterility, oedemas, and stomach-pains[332 ]. A leaf decoction is taken by draught and in baths as a febrifuge[332 ]. The roots in Ivory Coast are considered aphrodisiac[332 ]. Examination of various sources of the bark have found no active principles[332 ]. Leaves and stems have been reported to contain an unnamed alkaloid. The traditional use of the seed, husk and latex as a remedy for gonorrhoea and diarrhoea may rest on the action of a resin found in the seed, as also the use for treating amoebic dysentery[332 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More


Other Uses

Dye  Fencing  Fertilizer  Ink  Insulation  Musical  Oil  Paper  Pioneer  Potash  Resin  Soap making  Soil stabilization  Tinder  Waterproofing  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The roots reach deep into the soil and cause little competition for nutrients and water in the upper soil layers with adjacent crops[299 ]. It is a popular shade and shelter tree in smallholder cocoa plantations[303 ]. There is a belief that 'collar-crack' disease will occur on a cacao farm if the tree is cut down[332 ]. When not grown in pure stands, this species has always been intercropped with coffee, cocoa or bananas[418 ]. The seed contains small amounts of toxic substances, said to be a resin, which renders the residual cake unfit for use as a cattle-food though the cake should be a good nitrogenous agricultural fertiliser[332 ]. The tree is used as a live fence and for erosion control[299 ]. The tree could be very useful as a pioneer species - it is very fast growing, often found in secondary formations and commonly invades old farmland in its native range[K ]. Other Uses The ash of the wood is used as a source of potash for the preparation of a vegetable-salt in soap-making and in indigo dyeing[299 , 332 ]. The seed contains about 47% of a light yellow drying oil with a sweet taste[332 ]. It is usable in varnish and to make soft-soap, and it has industrial application in making water-proofing materials[332 ]. Decortication, however, is not easy, and as the shell amounts to 37% of the weight of the seed the total amount of oil may be as low as 14% of the whole seed[332 ]. The seed contains small amounts of toxic substances, said to be a resin[332 ]. The seeds are used in rattles and as counters in games[299 , 332 ]. The leaves areused as wrapping material[299 ]. The sawdust is extraordinarily light and is suitable for use in making life-saving belts[332 ]. The wood is currently recommended for use in insulation and the sawdust is no doubt suitable for sun-helmets[332 ]. The heartwood is dull white to pale yellow, darkening once exposed to light; it is not clearly differentiated from the sapwood. The grain is straight to interlocked, sometimes slightly wavy; the texture coarse and even. The wood is very light in weight; very soft; fibrous; brittle; not very durable, being liable to attack by termites, powderpost beetles and marine borers. It dries rapidly with little or no degrade; shrinkage rates are low; once dry the wood is moderately stable to stable in service. The wood saws and works easily with ordinary tools - there is a great tendency to woolliness, however, and tools need to be kept very sharp; it nails and screws without splitting, but holding properties are poor; gluing is correct; turning and planing are difficult. The wood is considered to be a good substitute for balsa wood (Ochroma pyramidale); it is very buoyant and is used for fishing-net floats and rafts for heavy timbers, because of its ease of working it is carved into fetish-masks, spoons, ladles, plates, platters, bowls, dippers, stools, etc; it is also used for rough planks and coffins[299 , 316 , 332 , 848 ]. The wood is used for making drums which are said to be very sonorous, and it is carved to make the whole or the resonant parts of musical instruments in various parts of Africa[332 ]. The wood is perhaps suitable for paper-pulp[332 ]. The wood is indifferent as a fuel, since it burns with great rapidity[332 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  New Crop  Staple Crop: Protein-oil

A plant mainly of the tropics, where it can also be found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where the mean minimum and maximum temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 14 - 34°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 500 - 5,000mm[418 ]. Grows best in a sunny position[299 , 332 ]. Prefers a medium textured, freely draining, acidic soil[303 ].Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 5 - 7[418 ]. A very fast-growing tree, in open light spaces it will bear fruit in its seventh to tenth year of growth[332 ]. The tree responds well to coppicing and pollarding, regenerating readily from the stump[303 , 332 ]. Some reports suggest the tree does not alwyas coppice well[299 ]. The tree grows spontaneously from seed and is often preserved in the neighbourhood of forest villages[332 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • New Crop  Most new crops were important wild plants until recently, although some are the result of hybridization. They have been developed in the last few, decades. What they have in common is that they are currently cultivated by farmers. Examples include baobab, argan, and buffalo gourd.
  • Staple Crop: Protein-oil  (16+ percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Annuals include soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Perennials include seeds, beans, nuts, and fruits such as almond, Brazil nut, pistachio, walnut, hazel, and safou.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Sow in a nursery seedbed in a fairly open position. Germination of treated seed commences about 3 - 6 weeks after sowing[299 ]. Fairly large cuttings root easily[299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Agele, Bidjabarrana, Eho, Erinmado, Essang nut, Essessang, Gobo, Mkungonolo, Mkungunolo, Mtondoro, Mtwatwa, Musodo, N'tonte, Ndjansang, Ngoza, Nkangaula, Nyangsang, Okhuen, Okwe, Putu, Sanga sanga, Songo, Suli, Tandoa, Tonta, Ungozo, Wamma, african nut-tree, african oil-nut-tree, african wood-oil nut-tree, afrikanisches mahagoni, bois jasanga, erimado, essang, essessang, ezang, ground nut tree, menguela, muawa, munguella, musodo, okwe.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

South Sudan; Cameroon; Congo; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Central African Republic; Mozambique; Senegal; Benin; Ghana; Guinea-Bissau; Guinea; Côte d'Ivoire; Liberia; Nigeria; Sierra Leone; Angola, Africa, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central Africa, CAR, Central African Republic, Congo DR, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Southern Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia.

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

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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(Baill.) Heckel

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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