Ziziphus Mucronata
  • Ziziphus Mucronata
  • Ziziphus Mucronata

Ziziphus Mucronata

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Buffalo Thorn

Ziziphus mucronata, known as the Buffalo thorn, "blinkblaar-wag-'n-bietjie" in Afrikaans and "mphasamhala" in Tsonga, is a species in the Rhamnaceae family.
The Buffalo thorn is a small to medium sized tree, reaching a height of about 10m (33ft). It can survive in a variety of soil types, occurring in many habitats, mostly open woodlands, often on soils deposited by rivers, and grows frequently on termite mounds.
Buffalo thorn has distinctive zigzag branchlets, and hooked and straight thorns.
The bark is a red-brown (on young stems) or roughly mottled grey which is cracked in small rectangular blocks revealing a stringy red underbark.
The fruit are roughly grape size, and ripen into a deep brown-red.


Many farmers use the buffalo thorn as a natural fence, it is also becoming more popular for this reason in schools and domestic homes. Some Bantu peoples believe that it is safe to shelter under a buffalo thorn during a thunderstorm as protection from lightning.
The leaves are edible, and can be cooked into tasty spinach; the fruit are also very nutritional, though not very tasty. The leaves can be used as an aphrodisiac, either by being chewed or used in dishes. During the Second Boer War, the stones were roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. A beer can be made from the fruit. The Ovambo people call the fruit of the Buffalo thorn eenghekete and use it to distill Ombike, their traditional liquor.
The Buffalo thorn also has medicinal properties, an extract of the roots is given as a painkiller and a solution of the bark and leaves in water is used for chest complaints.


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