Edible parts - Leaves, Fruit, Vegetable
A deciduous tree. It can be 8-14 m tall. It has a heavy rounded crown. The trunk is clear. It can be 1 m across. The bark is pale brown or grey white. It has long cracks along it and the ridges are sticky. The base of old trees has scales. The leaves occur opposite one another. They are compound leaves arranged like the fingers on a hand with 5 leaflets. They are leathery and shiny. Each leaflet can be 5-18 cm long and 3-7.5 cm wide. They have a common leaf stalk which can be 22 cm long. The base of the leaflet is wedge shaped and the tip is rounded. The flowers have a smell. They occur in dense bunches of up to 20 on a long stalk. The flower bunch can be 12 cm across. Each flower is cream with one hairy violet lobe. The outer case of the flower bud forms a hairy cup around the base of the fruit. The fruit is smooth and oblong and 3 cm long. It is green marked with white dots. The fruit turn black when ripe. The pulp is edible. Inside there is a hard nut with 1-4 seeds.
It is a tropical plant. It grows in the lowlands and the highlands. It occurs in coastal woodlands in East Africa. It is generally at lower altitudes and can be in savannah. It grows in the Sahel. It requires a high water table. It suits areas with a rainfall between 700-2,000 mm per year. It grows naturally in areas with minimum temperatures of 10°C and maximum of 31°C. It grows from sea level to 1900 m altitude in Tanzania. It tends to be on alluvial soils or near watercourses. It can grow in arid places. It grows in Miombo woodland in Africa.