Plant of the Week – African Bubblegum

Fruits of Azanza garckeana (Snot Apple)

Azanza garckeana (also Thespesia garckeana) is called ‘Snot Apple’ in English and ‘matowo’ in Chichewa. It has received the nickname of ‘African Bubblegum’ due to the gum-like consistency of the fruits when they are chewed. This tree is indigenous to Africa and can grow from 3-13 meters in height.

Despite being considered a ‘bush food’ in Malawi, the fruits are actually quite nutritious. A study showed that within 100 grams, the fruit contained significant amounts of ascorbic acid, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and sodium. The highest was potassium with 2619 mg per 100 grams, which is over half of the recommended daily allowance for humans.

A review of the medicinal uses of this tree reported that various parts of the tree have been used to treat over 20 different human diseases. In addition, pharmacological studies on A. garckeana have indicated that the species has a wide range of pharmacological activities such as antibacterial, antifungal, antihyperglycemic (inhibiting the formation of an abnormally large amount of sugar in the blood), antimalarial, antioxidant and iron absorption.

If this incredible resource were given the attention and research that it deserves, Malawi may even discover that it is sitting on an all-natural and safe alternative to the current use of chemically-processed food thickeners and sweeteners (such as high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to health problems like liver disease, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases).

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