Publication from Fruitipedia, Encyclopedia of the Edible Fruits of the World
by Dr. Chiranjit Parmar
Input from H.F. Glen Kwazulu-Natal Herbarium, Durban, South Africa
Family : Clusiaceae (Guttiferae)
Common names: Afrika-geelmelkhout, umPhimbi, umGobandlovu, mmimbi, mokongono, mokononga
mangosteen, as its name indicates, is a fruit of Africa. It bears
very tasty fruits. The African mangosteen is widespread in the
warmer parts of Africa, from just north of Durban as far as Somalia and
Guinea. In this range it encounters widely varying rainfall (from
about 200 to 1000 mm a year) and soil types. However, the temperature
is a unifying feature: winters (as far as they exist) are warm and
summers are hot to very hot.
The trees are notably sensitive to cold, though quite hardy to both
drought and heavy rain.
mangosteen is a small tree reaching 18 m in East Africa,
pyramidal when young but later spreading, with thick, woody young
branches and yellow to red resin. Leaves usually 3 in a whorl (may be 4
or opposite), variable in shape but usually egg- or lance-shaped,
generally 60–110 × 30–55 mm, blue-green with whitish
veins, waxy. Flowers in groups of 5–15, in leaf axils, on old wood,
greenish, whitish or yellow, scented, male and bisexual flowers of
Fruit an orange berry, 10–40 mm in diameter, with yellowish
orange having a sticky juice.
mangosteen bears delicious fruits. Though these have a sticky
juice these are liked and eaten. The fruits are also
fermented for making a pleasant alcoholic beverage and country wines.
The tree is used in traditional medicine, and in particular the
powdered root is used as an aphrodisiac. The wood is susceptible to
borers, but has been used as a general-purpose timber.
mangosteen is cultivated commercially for its fruits. But it is
worth having in any warm subtropical garden. It can be propagated
by seed. In many cities of South Africa, the plants of this fruit
are sold by the nurseries.
African mangosteen is a slow growing tree. It does not require
any special care. Once the plant is established, the African
mangosteen will need almost no maintenance.