Kigelia is an African tree, easily recognizable by its large, sausage-shaped fruit that hangs from its branches. The generic name comes from 'kigeli-keia', the Mozambican name for the sausage tree.

Sausage trees are sacred to many communities and are often protected, especially when other forest trees are cut down. In Kenya, the Lo and Luhya tribes bury the fetus, which symbolizes the body of a lost loved one.

Sausage tree - extremely variable, it has a dense, spreading crown. Sometimes the tree grows up to 23 m in height, but, as a rule, it is less. The trunk can be crooked, up to 80 cm in diameter, the branches hang down.

Kigelia - a unique African tree

Every part of the tree is used in herbal medicines, such as for digestive and respiratory disorders, and to treat infections and wounds.

Kigelia has various commercial uses for the treatment of skin conditions. The study of its antibacterial, antifungal and antitumor activity is still ongoing.

The sausage tree is an important medicinal plant in its native region, where the fruit is usually harvested straight from the wild for local use. The fruit is often sold in local markets but has recently become one of the best ingredients for treating a number of skin conditions.

The tree is often cultivated and protected in many villages in tropical Africa, as it is used not only for medicinal purposes, but also for shade and as a meeting place in the village. It is also cultivated as an ornamental plant in the tropics of all continents, thanks to its long, attractive, yellow-veined, burgundy flowers that can be up to 1 m long, depending on the size of the tree itself.

It is not recommended to park a vehicle or put up a tent under a sausage tree during the fruiting period, because these “sausages”, which often fall, sometimes weigh up to 12 kg and can cause significant damage to both the car and the person.

Geography and distribution

Kigelia grows south of the Sahara in tropical Africa, but the tree is also cultivated in other tropical countries as an ornamental plant in Australia, the United States and Southeast Asia.

Description of the sausage tree

Kigelia Africana is a tree with an average height of 2.5 - 18 m, and sometimes a shrub 2 - 3 m in height. The bark is smooth grey-brown. The leaves grow in groups of three at the ends of the branches and are 10–20 cm long with 3–8 leaflets. Inflorescence panicle 30 -80 cm long on average, up to a maximum of 1 m. Tubular flowers are dark red with yellow veins, have an unpleasant odor. Fruits in the form of sausages 30 - 90 cm long and 7.5 - 10 cm in diameter.

The sausage tree is highly variable in its leaves and morphology. Trees growing in forests have larger leaves than trees in open areas.

The plant grows at altitudes up to 3000 m in areas where the average annual rainfall is in the range of 900 - 2000 mm. The tree is not frost-resistant, but if young trees are protected from cold winds for the first 2-3 years, then they will continue to survive in colder conditions.

Kigelia prefers loamy soil. Grows best in a sunny location in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil.

It is a relatively slow growing tree, depending on the climate, reaching good proportions in shade in 4 to 5 years. The growth rate is at least 1 m/year, but grows slower in colder areas.

After planting the seeds, the trees begin flowering after 6 years. Kigelia has an invasive root system, so it should not be planted close to buildings. Flowers open only at night and are pollinated by bats and hawk-moths.

They are deep red in color, which is very unusual for bat pollination (they tend to be attracted to white flowers). It is believed that bats are attracted to the strong unpleasant smell of flowers. Flowers grow intermittently throughout the year.

Kigelia africanus is successfully used in the Japanese art of bonsai due to its thick trunk. The sausage tree stabilizes the banks of the rivers, and the broad branches provide shade on the open savannah.

Known dangers

Kigelia Africana has a wide range of uses. Both ripe and unripe fruits are poisonous to humans, but the fruits are sometimes dried and fermented along with the bark to enhance the flavor of traditional beers. The fruits have a laxative effect and are very toxic.picture

Seed germination

Seeds do not require pre-treatment, but the speed of seed germination depends on it. Germination improves after seed storage for 12 months. Soaking seeds in hot or boiling water for one minute before sowing improves germination.

Seeds are placed in seedling boxes with clean river sand and thrust into the sand until the top is level with the sand and lightly covered with a thin layer of sand or clean compost, the seeds must be kept moist. They usually germinate in 10 to 25 days if the temperature is 23°C or higher.

The sausage tree is not very prolific for seeds. They are released when the fruits rot on the ground. The behavior of seeds during storage is orthodox - viability is maintained for more than 3 years when stored tightly and at an ambient temperature of 11 - 15 ° C. Dry seeds are well stored in a cool place.

Edible Uses:

  • The seeds are roasted and used as food during times of famine.
  • The fruits are used as a fermentation additive for making beer, to increase potency, or simply added for flavor.
  • The fruits are not edible, but some tribes sometimes bake or boil the pulp to increase strength. This leads to an increase in fermentation and the formation of amyl alcohol, which can explain a severe hangover, as after intoxication.
  • The nectar from the flowers is used as a source of sugar.

Healing properties of Kigelia

The sausage tree is used in Africa to treat many diseases and complaints: anemia, syncope, rickets, epilepsy, respiratory and heart diseases, malnutrition, debility and diseases of the liver and skin problems. Most often, fruits are harvested for this, although all parts of the tree have similar properties.

Of the phytochemical compounds in the extracts of this tree, which are most often attributed to the activity are iridoids and naphthoquinones.

Extracts from the bark, wood, roots and fruits have antibacterial and antifungal properties. They show significant inhibitory effects in vitro against common Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria as well as the yeast Candida Albicans.

Of the naphthoquinones isolated from fruits and roots, kigelinone showed marked antimicrobial activity. Iridoids in bark, fruit and root extracts further enhance the antimicrobial activity of naphthoquinones. Other active antimicrobial compounds present in the bark are caffeic acid phenylpropanoids, p-coumaric acid, and ferulic acid.

Kigelia is known for its anti-cancer properties, and laboratory screening has confirmed extracorporeal anti-cancer activity. Fruit extracts are effective against induced tumors.

Bark extracts have shown moderate efficacy against melanotic cell lines, namely, the naphthoquinones Lapachol and Isopinatal from the bark, fruit and roots of the sausage tree have antitumor activity against melanoma cell lines. Sterols and iridoids are commonly used to treat melanoma. Root cytotoxicity is associated with the presence of gamma-sitosterol.

The fruits also showed anti-inflammatory activity. Cinnamic acid derivatives are thought to have anticonvulsant activity, which is why this tree is used to prevent epileptic seizures.

Leaves and fruits contain flavonoids. The high concentration of flavonoids helps to overcome diarrhea by influencing certain microbes. Although kigelia is a tree that is known for its laxative properties, preliminary studies have shown the leaves to have a preventative effect against diarrhea.

Medicinal Uses of the Sausage Tree

Kigelia is used in particular to treat a wide range of skin problems. Powders and infusions of the bark, leaves, stems, twigs or fruits are all used to cleanse and heal open wounds.

Many dressings and infusions containing kigelia extract have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

The bark, stems, twigs, leaves and fruits are applied locally to treat rheumatism, sprains, bruising and bleeding. Even antidotes for snake bites are made from extracts of the tree, which are used both internally and rubbed topically into the bite.

Applied to treat infectious diseases, including leprosy, impetigo and helminthiasis in the blood; skin infections such as felon, cysts, acne; inflamed eyes are treated with drops made from flower juice mixed with water.

Let's take a closer look at how the sausage tree is used:

  • A decoction of the fruit is rubbed into the chest to increase its size, especially for young girls to speed up puberty.
  • Infusions and decoctions are used while bathing young children to gain weight. Poultices from the fruit increase lactation, improve milk quality, treat mastitis and breast cancer.
  • The fruits are used to treat elephantiasis of the scrotum, swelling of the legs, asthma; combined with pepper to treat constipation.
  • Externally, poultices from the fetus are used to treat wounds, syphilis, ulcers, boils, and rheumatism.
  • The bark and fruits heal wounds well.
  • An oily ointment made from the powder of the fruit is used to treat rheumatism and malignant tumors.
  • The bark contains tannic acids. It has a somewhat bitter taste and is taken by mouth for asthma and dysentery.
  • Many parts of a sausage tree in the form decoction in combination with other plants is used to treat the stomach and kidneys.
  • The heated bark is applied to the female breast after the end of feeding the child for the fastest return to normal life.
  • Kigelia is included in various prescriptions for the treatment of leprosy.
  • The root is used as a remedy for boils, sore throats, constipation and tapeworms.
  • Kigelia seeds are used to treat epilepsy.
  • The crushed bark is suitable for the treatment of chronic wounds and ulcers.
  • An infusion of the leaves is used to treat certain sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Kigelia is a general tonic for health and growth.

Other uses:

  • The fruit contains tannin.
  • Tannins can be extracted from the roots and stems of the bark.
  • A black dye is obtained from the fruit.
  • The yellow dye is obtained from the roots.
  • In Africa, in areas where there are not enough stones for a hearth, the fruits are used in as pots on fire, as they are practically fireproof.
  • Kigelia husks are used in mousetraps.
  • Dolls and jugs are made from seed husks.
  • Wood is used as fuel.
  • The wood is soft but strong, so barrels, boxes, stools, etc. are made from it.
  • Useful properties of Kigelia African for the skin

    The indigenous peoples of Africa have long used the large, sausage-sized fruit for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Medical research has also found evidence that Kigelia may be effective in treating melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

    Kigelia's active ingredients include the steroidal saponins and the flavonoids luteolin and quercetin. These phytochemicals help strengthen and stabilize the collagen fibers that support the skin, thus creating a firming effect.

    Some studies have shown that an extract from the fruit of this tree is particularly effective in firming the skin around the breasts.

    Researchers in Northern Ireland conducted a test-tube study to evaluate the ability of various compounds in sausage tree fruit to stop the spread of human melanoma cells and other skin diseases.

    The scientists isolated several compounds from the fruit and tested them on melanoma cells in the laboratory and found significant anti-cancer properties of various compounds, including kigelin, isocoumarin, oleic acid and ferulic acid.

    In their findings, published in the 2010 issue of Planta Medica, the researchers noted that furonaphthoquinone was also effective against two strains of breast cancer cells.

    Traditional African healers use kigelium to treat a wide range of skin conditions from fungal infections, boils, acne, and psoriasis to more serious conditions such as leprosy, syphilis, and skin cancer.

    The Tongan women of the Zambezi valley make cosmetic preparations from kigelia to improve their complexion. Young men and women use the fruits to enhance the growth of the genitals and mammary glands, respectively.

    Potential commercial uses of fruit extracts:

    • Anti-aging creams and products for skin regeneration.
    • After sun products.
    • Cosmetics for tightening the skin, especially for the bust.
    • Preparations for strengthening the skin, such as the scalp for hair loss.
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs (Kigelium extract is more effective than indomethacin, a powerful synthetic anti-inflammatory agent).
    • Antioxidants (ethanol extract also has antioxidant activity).
    • Antibacterial drugs.

    Things to know (Q&A)

    What are the benefits of the sausage tree?

    The seeds are roasted as well, and can be a nutritional resource, since they are energy rich and contain essential fatty acids . Sausage tree leaves also have a nutritional benefit and have been compared to green, leafy vegetables like spinach, containing minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron.

    What are the benefits of Kigelia africana?

    Benefits of Kigelia Africana for Skin

    Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles : It helps ward off signs of aging, including the development of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and laxity, and actually triggers cell regeneration, leading to a renewed complexion with continued use.

    What are the health benefits of sausage fruit?

    Nutritional Value

    Sausage fruits are a good source of phosphorus, essential fatty acids, and are known to have anti-microbial properties, which can help reduce symptoms associated with eczema and skin irritations when applied topically .

    Are sausage trees poisonous?

    The so-called sausage tree grows a poisonous fruit that is up to 60 cm (2 feet) long, weighs about 7 kg (15 pounds), and resembles a sausage in a casing.

    What are health benefits of Kigelia africana?

    Heals skin conditions : “Revered by Malawians as medicine as well as a sacred symbol of protection, Kigelia Africana has been traditionally used by African healers to treat skin-related conditions, such as fungal infections, acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn, and insect bites,” Roestorf says.

    What does Kigelia africana cure?

    In African folk medicine, K. africana is used for the treatment of dysentery, venereal diseases, and as a topical application on wounds and abscesses . In the area around Nsukka, Nigeria, the bark is used for the treatment of venereal diseases [47].

    What is sausage tree good for?

    Traditional Medicinal Uses

    There are many anecdotal uses of the sausage tree. The powdered mature fruit is applied as a dressing in the treatment of wounds, abscesses, and ulcers . The green fruit is used as a poultice for syphilis and rheumatism, and a poultice made from leaves is used as a treatment for backache.

    Can you eat sausage from sausage tree?

    The kigelia, or “sausage tree,” is a common sight in the Serengeti. It may have a mouth-watering name, but don't eat from the sausage tree (the popular name for the kigelia) unless you know what you're doing!

    Can humans eat sausage fruit?

    Applications. Sausage fruits are poisonous when raw and must be cooked before consumption . The fruits are mainly considered to be a medicinal ingredient, but they are sometimes eaten by roasting, baking, drying, or fermenting.

    Can you drink sausage tree?

    The 'sausages' cannot be eaten but the skin is ground to a pulp and used externally for medicine. Its most important use is for the cure of skin ailments especially skin cancers. The fruit is burnt to ashes and pounded by a mortar with oil and water to make a paste to apply to the skin.

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