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Ricinodendron

The meaning of «ricinodendron»

Ricinodendron heudelotii subsp. heudelotii[2]

Ricinodendron is a plant genus in the family Euphorbiaceae first described as a genus in 1864.[4][5] It includes only one known species, Ricinodendron heudelotii, native to tropical Africa from Senegal + Liberia east to Sudan and Tanzania and south to Mozambique and Angola.[3] It produces an economically important oilseed. The tree is known as munguella (Angola), njangsa (Cameroon), bofeko (Zaire), wama (Ghana), okhuen (Nigeria), kishongo (Uganda), akpi (Ivory Coast), djansang, essang, ezezang and njasang. Two varieties of the tree species are recognized R. heudelotii var. heudelotii in Ghana and R. heudelotii var. africanum in Nigeria and westwards.

The mongongo fruit (Schinziophyton rautanenii) was previously considered a member of this genus but has since been placed into a genus of its own.

The tree is fast growing and reaches a height between 20 and 50 m with a straight trunk which can have a diameter up to 2.7 m. Its crown is broad and the roots are big running. The bark is smooth with a grey colour. Inside, the bark is red when cut.

Njangsa is a dioecious plant. The flowers are yellowish white, 5 mm long and form a long terminal panicle which measures between 15 and 40 cm. Flowering time is between April and May. Male panicles are larger and slender than female flowers.

Njangsa trees produce a fruit that are typically two or three lobed and contain two cells in which the seeds lie. These seeds are red brown to black, rounded and some 1 cm in diameter. The seeds are oily in texture and can be bought either raw or dried. They have an odour reminiscent of oily chocolate, but their flavour is truly unique: subtly aromatic with a mild bitter aftertaste. At maturity (August - September) the fruit smells like over-ripe apples.[6]

Njangsa is endemic to tropical Africa.[7] The native geographic location of njangsa reaches from Senegal in West Africa to Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania, and from Sudan down to the western coast of Sub-Saharan Africa to Angola.[6] The tree is also found on Madagascar.[7]

Njangsa grows generally in rain forests and is also typical for secondary forests.[7] This tree is a light-demanding species.[6] Therefore, it can also be found in deciduous forests, forest edges, secondary scrubs and thickets in semi-dry savannahs. The tree is observed in food crop fields, cocoa farms and other agroforestry systems, where the trees can also intentionally be planted.[7]

The edible parts of the plant are the high nutritive contents of the kernels. The dried and ground kernels are used as a flavouring agent in some dishes in West and Central Africa. The paste of the ground kernels is used to thicken soups and stews. Oil can be obtained from the kernels. Only a small amount of extracted seed oil is carried out. The oil has a yellowish colour and tastes similar to groundnut oil. Because of its high content of γ-tocopherol, the oil is very stable and becomes rancid only slowly.[7] This oil is interesting as cooking oil and margarine.[7][8]

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