Image credit: bsterling @ Flickr, CC licence
One of the things I love about the internet is that you can set up systems to send you alerts for wonderful things. My french toast this morning was interrupted by sausages, actually sausage trees, thanks to an interesting auction on Trade Me.
Sausage trees are crazy looking things. Known as Kigelia africana in botanical circles, these sub-Saharan trees have berries that way around 12 kg and dangle from trees with the colour and shape of sausages. Those berries have a huge variety of uses in traditional and Western medicine. And you can now by the cream in NZ thanks TradeMe user gp.ca.johnson.
The tree’s fruit, bark, roots and leaves are all used for their curative properties – anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-amoebic and anti-skin-aging effects. And this TradeMe auction comes with some very good sources. I love it when people add scientific studies to support use. See refs below (I went and found the URLs so you can just click away).
The kigelia sausage tree grows prolifically across sub-Saharan tropical Africa and as far south as South Africa. It is also grown as an ornamental in Australia and parts of the US.
Kigelia is considered a very important tree economically and for the ecosystem around it. Bats pollinate the dark red and stinky flowers (which is quite odd as flowers pollinated by bats are usually white). Monkeys and elephants love the fruit. Leaves are excellent livestock fodder. The fruit is poisonous to humans causing blistering and violent vomiting, but roasted fruits are used to flavour beer. The wood itself is used for canoes and when planted along river banks stops soil erosion.
Jackson, S. J., Houghton, P.J., Retsas, S. and Photiou, A. (2000). In Vitro Cytotoxicity of Norviburtinal and Isopinnatal from Kigelia pinnata Against Cancer Cell Lines. Planta Medica 66: 758- 761. (PDF)
Picerno, P., G. Autore, et al. (2005). Anti- inflammatory activity of verbinoside from Kigelia africana and evaluation of cutaneous irritation in cell cultures and reconstituted human epidermis. Journal of Natural Products 68: 1610-1614.