Landolphia species

Bemba - Mubongo
Likouala Pygmy - malombo
Ngindo - Ndoro
Shona - mubungu, mukanga, muwungu
Sotho - marapa
Thonga - mbungu, mabungwa, mahungo
Tswana - inongwe
Venda - muvhungo
Zulu - ibungu, umkuzi
Africaans - meltog, wilde appelkoos
English - wild apricot, wild peach, rubber vine

Description of the plant and fruit
The genus Landolphia is in the 'dogbane' family, Apocynaceae. (Superceded names for the genus Landolphia are: Anthoclitandra, Aphanostylis, Carpodinus, Jasminochyla). Most are woody lianes or sprawly shrubs, the flowers are usually white and scented. Landolphia plants contain a milky latex which exudes when the young bark or unripe fruit are damaged. Some species (L. kirkii, L. gentilli, L. heudelotii, L. owariensis). are considered to have commercially useful amounts, with L. kirkii historically having been the primary source; early Belgian colonists enforced latex collecting until damage almost eliminated all accessible plants, and the Germans ran a significant trade out of 'German East Africa' i.e. Tanzania.  The rubber was known as 'landolphia' or 'Madagscar' rubber (there are Landolphia species on the island of Madagascar). The fruits are botanically a berry, and contain many ovoid seeds embedded in a usually stringy pulp.

Very little is recorded about African indigenous fruits in general, and as de-forestation continues less and less information on the species, distribution, ecotypes, plant and fruit variablity will be able to be discovered. The information here is incomplete, mostly tiny scraps gathered from here and there, as the primary bound scientific paper is prohibitively expensive [2]. All information, no matter how minor, eagerly sought!  E-mail me here

Landolphia angolensis
Recorded from Zaire, in the warm moist equatorial Congo basin

Landolphia buchananii Stapf.
Recorded in Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe in southern Africa, and Tanzania and Ethiopia in east Africa. The liane is generally associated with forested environments. The fruit is recorded as being edible, yellow when ripe, and the size of a large orange.

Landolphia bruneeli
Recorded from Zaire in the warm moist equatorial Congo basin

Landolphia capensis Oliv.
Recorded from southern Africa in eastern Botswana, and the Transvaal and Natal regions of South Africa. It is usually associated with dry woodlands and scrub, and grows in rocky conditions. The plant is a low, sprawling, shrub about a metre of two (approx 3-6 feet) high with glossy leathery dark green elliptical leaves.
The fruit are round to pear-shaped whose skin is covered in a fine fuzz ('tomentose'). The skin is tough, and exudes latex when cut (especially immature fruit). The fruits are reddish-yellow when they are ripe, relatively large, with a flavor described as 'pleasantly acid', but 'very sour around the seeds', which number 'few to many'.[1]

Landolphia comorensis K. Schum. synonyms: Landolphia florida, Saba comorensis
Recorded from Zaire,  in the warm moist equatorial Congo basin. Also recorded from the island of Zanzibar (2004).
Botanical illustration of the flower and sectioned fruit. Illustrations of the leaf form and  flowers are probably broadly typical of the genus:
Landolphia comorensis var. florida (Benth.) K.Schumann
Landolphia congolensis
Recorded from Zaire,  in the warm moist equatorial Congo basin

Landolphia dewevrei Stapf
Recorded in the west equatorial country of Gabon

Landolphia dulcis var. dulcis  Pichon
Recorded in Senegal, common in ravine and gallery forests of moist climate ecozones. Also recorded as being used as a sweetener in Sierra Leone.

Landolphia foretiana
Recorded from Zaire, in the warm moist equatorial Congo basin

Landolphia glabra Pichon
Recorded from Zaire, in the warm moist equatorial Congo basin
Landolphia gummifera (Lam & Poiret) K.Sch. syn. Landolphia madagascariensis Boyer, syn Vahea gummifera Poir

Landolphia heudelotii
Recorded from west equatorial Africa, in Gabon, Guinea, and in Gambia.
Children gathering and eating the fruit, Guinea. A poor black and white photo, FAO site.

Landolphia Hendelottii DC

Landolphia hirsuta Beauvois
Eaten in the west equatorial African country of Ivory Coast, and is "highly appreciated by the whole population but the fruits, growing on a liana, are rather difficult to obtain. Therefore, the adults get the biggest share of it" [3]. This species has about 32 grams of edible portion per fruit (excluding seeds).

Landolphia incerta Persoon
Recorded in the west equatorial country of Gabon

Landolphia jumellei Pichon
Recorded in the west equatorial country of Gabon & Zaire, where it is associated with tropical equatorial forests.

Landolphia kirkii T. Dyer (this plant may now be known as Dictyophleba kirkii)
Recorded in Tanzania (Gombe) in east equatorial Africa, and found from Natal in South Africa through Mozambique north to Somalia. It is associated with tropical forest and, in southern Africa, coastal lowland subtropical 'bush' (up to 30 metre canopy). Found either as a sprawling bush or a woody liane with tendrils. The small white flowers are sweetly scented.
The almost round fruits are about the size of a mandarin (tangerine). The tough skin encloses a very sweet, stringy pulp with numerous seeds embedded in it. The fruiting season is from November to March.

Landolphia lagustrifolia

Landolphia lanceolata
Recorded in the southern, drier edge of the Congo basin, Zaire, where it is eaten by the 'bonobo' chimpanzee species, Pan paniscus

Landolphia mannii T. Dyer
Recorded in the west equatorial country of Gabon and in the central equatorial Congo basin of Zaire

Landolphia owariensis Pal. de Beauv
Recorded from the west equatorial country of Gabon,  the central equatorial Congo basin in Zaire, and the Mahale mountain region of western Tanzania.

Landolphia parvifolia 'Mubongo'
Recorded as being eaten in Zambia

Landolphia petersiana  (Klotzsch) T. Dyer. 'Ndoro'
Found in essentially the same range as L. kirkii - Tanzania, and from Natal in South Africa through Mozambique north to Somalia, and again associated with tropical forest and bush. The plant is a sprawling shrub or a woody liane, with tendrils. The sweetly  scented white flowers are carried in panicls at the end of the branches.
The fruit is more or less round, with numerous seeds embedded in the soft pulp. The fruits are eaten both when ripe and when nearly ripe. The skin is removed from the semi-ripe fruit, but ripe fruit are eaten skin and all.

Landolphia reticulata
Recorded in the west equatorial country of Gabon .

Landolphia senegalensis
Recorded as a food plant in Mali, west equatorial Africa.

Landolphia stolzii
Recorded in Tanzania.

Landolphia subrepanda Pichon
Recorded in the west equatorial country of Gabon.
Landolphia watsoniana Vogtherr
Nice plate, showing the typical vining nature:

Paper Reading

'Food From the Veld: Edible Wild Plants of Southern Africa.' Fox, F.W.; and Norwood Young, M.E. et al
Delta Books, Johannesburg, 1982. ISBN 0-9-8387-32-6 [1]

'African species of Landolphia' P. Beauv. Persoon, J.G.M. et al. (Eds.) From ' Series of revisions of Apocynaceae: Vol. XVI-XVIII'
Wageningen Agricultural University Papers 92-2) Vol. XXXIV.ISBN 90-6754-234-2 . 1992 [2]
(Available for sale from Wageningen Agricultural University

Gabetta B, Martinelli E M, Mustich G. 1973 'Plants of Mozambique -III. Flavonoids of Landolphia kirkii'.
Fitoterapia 44, 93 (1973).

Herzog F, Gautier-Béguin D, Müller K 'Uncultivated plants for human nutrition in Côte d'Ivoire' in 'Domestication and commercialization of non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems- Non-Wood Forest Products 9'
Published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1998. [3]

Electronic Reading

Thompson J, 1999 'Evolution of the Apes and the Origin of Human Beings' in Report on SAGA2/COE Symposium accessed 30/05/00

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