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AFRICAN SAUSAGE TREE
A member of the Bigona family, the South African sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata or K.africana), has hundreds of huge sausage-like fruits that hang down from the limbs on long, rope-like stalks. The fruits may be over 2 feet long and weigh 20 pounds, and have inspired a wide variety of vernacular names, including one, in South Africa, that means ‘the fat tail of a sheep’.
The hard, grey fruit of the sausage tree has a thin skin covering a firm, fibrous fruit pulp containing numerous small seeds. The fruit, although inedible itself, is a common ingredient in traditional beer, and is said to hasten the fermentation process. Kigelia leaves are an important livestock fodder, and the fruits are much prized by monkeys and elephants.
The fruit is also used as a cosmetic cream. The Tonga women of the Zambezi valley, for example, regularly apply preparations of the Sausage fruit to their faces, to ensure a blemish-free complexion.
(Some information is from the Southern African Natural Products Trade Association)
Photos by Chef James, taken at Fruit & Spice Park, Homestead, FL