The marula tree, which grows in South Africa, is a tree with many unique uses. For thousands of years, people have used the tree for food, medicine and other interesting applications.
The marula grows up to 18m high and can bear more than 500kg of fruit a year. The fruit of the tree contains eight times as much vitamin C as an orange.
Besides its uses in jams, stews and other savoury dishes, the fruit can also be used to make alcoholic drinks. Sometimes, animals in the bush, such as monkeys and elephants, become drunk after eating fermented marula fruit that has fallen on the ground.
The bark and leaves of the tree are also very adaptable. The bark has many medicinal qualities and is used to treat dysentery, diarrhoea and insect bites. The leaves, which are a major part of the diet of giraffe, elephant, kudu and waterbuck, are also said to cure spider bites, burns, snake bites and scorpion stings. Marula oil is taken from the seed itself and is highly sought after for use in professional skincare products.
One of the more interesting things about the marula tree is that it is both male and female, which has led to a belief among some tribes that the gender of an unborn baby can be influenced by drinking tea made from marula bark.
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