• Femi Abodunde

Africa's Lost Fruit: The Star Apple

The #African star Apple is one of those fruits that when picked and tasted fresh is literally like food handed down direct from God, especially in central Nigeria, where #rainforest meets #savanna, perfect conditions for growing this fruit.


Africa is a treasure trove for medicinal plants found nowhere else in the world. Traditional African medicine that rely only on natural ingredients can be effective and still remain a major source of remedies for the continent. Though little research and development has been done, these plants can provide the planet a viable source of new drugs and health supplements.


Though western media usually depicts Africa as a dry and arid land, it has the most diverse range of ecosystems of any continent, including mangrove swamps, savannas, and rainforests. While rainforests and swamps are abundant with medicinal plants, dry places like savannas and deserts contain fruit-bearing trees that are packed with nutrients and therapeutic value.


Fruits from these environments can be classified as “superfruits”. Though originally a marketing term used in the food and beverage industry, the term now describes fruits with both high levels of nutrients and anti-oxidants that help fight certain diseases and ailments. Some known examples in the west include blackcurrants, blackberries, cranberries, and pomegranates.


While many African fruits contain the same properties as their western counterparts, they are not well researched due to the dismissive nature of some local scientists, magnified by colonial incompetence, religious inhibition, and other types of outdated and bureaucratic thinking. One of the fruits that deserves more attention is the African Star Apple (#ChrysophyllumAlbidum). Immortalized in the Nigerian stamps series, the star apple can be found seasonally in low-land rainforests.


The antimicrobial effects, nutritional value and medicinal value are legendary. The bark of the tree is traditionally used to treat yellow fever and malaria, while the leaf can treat wounds, stomachache, and diarrhea. The seeds are also used to treat vaginal and skin infections in Nigeria. The ascorbic acid (#VitaminC) content of the fruit is about 100 times that of orange and 10 times that of guava or cashew. The fruit is high in antioxidants, phenols and flavonoids. It is also an excellent source of calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, tannins, terpenoids, and phytochemicals. It is regularly consumed as a snack because it has properties that can be used to lower blood sugar and prevent/treat heart diseases.