Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Prodr. 8: 203 (1844).
n = 12
Mimusops fragrans (Baker) Engl. (1904).
Red milkwood (En). Foumbo (Fr). Mgambo (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Mimusops kummel occurs from Côte d’Ivoire east to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and south to Tanzania and Malawi.
The wood of Mimusops kummel is used for construction, utensils and tool handles, and also as firewood and for making charcoal. Branches are used as arrow shafts. In Ethiopia the trees are conserved when land is cleared for planting coffee to serve as shade trees. The fruit is commonly eaten in East Africa. The roots are used in traditional medicine as a laxative and galactagogue, and the seeds to treat ascariasis.
The heartwood is reddish brown, heavy and hard, and distinctly demarcated from the creamy to yellowish sapwood.
Small to medium-sized tree up to 25(–35) m tall, containing latex; bole up to 100 cm in diameter; bark deeply grooved, dark grey; crown dense, ovoid; young branches densely red-brown pubescent. Leaves arranged spirally, more or less in tufts at the ends of branches, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 0.5–1.5(–3) cm long; blade oblong-elliptical to obovate-elliptical, 4–12 cm × 1.5–5 cm, cuneate at base, notched to shortly acuminate at apex, leathery, almost glabrous, with many lateral veins. Flowers in fascicles of up to 4 in the leaf axils, bisexual, regular, fragrant; pedicel (1.5–)2–5 cm long, slender; sepals in 2 whorls of 4; corolla creamy-white, with a short tube and 8 lobes each with 2 appendages, 9–14 mm long; stamens 8, alternating with 8 hairy staminodes; ovary superior, 8-celled. Fruit an ellipsoid to ovoid berry up to 2.5 cm long, orange-red when ripe, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid, c. 2 cm long, reddish brown, with small circular basal scar. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl 4. 5–5 cm long, epicotyl 2.5 cm long; cotyledons leafy, 3 cm × 1.5 cm, 3-veined from the base.
The distribution of Mimusops laurifolia (Forssk.) Friis (synonym: Mimusops schimperi Hochst. ex A.Rich.) overlaps with that of Mimusops kummel in Eritrea and eastern Ethiopia; Mimusops laurifolia is also found in Somalia and Yemen. Its pale brown to yellowish white wood is occasionally used for construction, carpentry and joinery, and as firewood. Mimusops laurifolia is sometimes planted as a shade or ornamental tree and its fruit is edible. It was probably already cultivated thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, and is characterized by its long and slender leaf stalks.
Mimusops obovata Sond. closely resembles Mimusops kummel and Mimusops zeyheri Sond., but differs in its smaller, more thinly leathery leaves. It occurs in southern Mozambique, eastern South Africa and Swaziland, and also produces useful timber and edible fruits. The heartwood is pink or reddish, heavy, hard and durable, and logs are occasionally traded on the international market. The fruits taste pleasant and are used to make jellies and alcoholic drinks.
Mimusops kummel is widespread in riverine forest, but also occurs in upland dry evergreen forest and wooded grassland up to 2100 m altitude. It usually occurs scattered. In the southern part of the Sudanian zone in Burkina Faso where there is an annual rainfall of 1000 mm, it is characteristic of forests on the most humid soils.
Mimusops kummel is propagated by seeds and wildlings. One kilogramme contains about 800 seeds. The seeds can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature. Germination occurs 18–45 days after sowing. The tree tolerates pruning and pollarding.
Genetic resources and breeding
Mimusops kummel is widely spread and occurs in various habitats, and is consequently not liable to genetic erosion.
Like several other Mimusops species, Mimusops kummel is an interesting multipurpose species worthy of more research.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2005. Mimusops kummel Bruce ex A.DC. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.