Sausage Tree: Does it Have Any Benefits?

Sausage Tree Benefits: Does it Have Any?

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Scientifically called Kigelia africana, the Sausage Tree is the only one species throughout this genus of plants. Native all throughout Africa, this tree grows a poisonous fruit that strongly resembles a sausage in its casing or even a cucumber. 

This tree is also called the Cucumber Tree and in India, it is known as the Balam Kheera tree. This flowering tree produces blood-red flowers in the dead of the night and these flowers are an absolute sight to behold as they shine through the darkness. The Kigelia africana tree is a fairly common sight throughout Africa, being known for its interesting indigenous uses. Let's look at some of the features, uses, and benefits of the Sausage Tree:


• Features of the Sausage Tree: Defining Characteristics 

Kigela africana Tree

Here are a few distinguishing features of the Kigelia plant that you must know about:


1. Appearance in the Wild

The Kigela africana grows to be around 10-20 meters in height, which is around 33-66 feet. The trunk grows to be thick with grayish-brown barks that are roughly textured. The Balam Kheera leaves, on the other hand, have a glossy, leathery texture in a dark green color. 


2. Flowers 

Sausage Tree flowers

The Kigela Sausage Tree is known for its astonishing blood-red flowers that have a somewhat maroon-purple hue when looked at closely. The flowers may look very appealing but they have a strong, unpleasant odor that attracts unlikely pollinators. Called the Balam Kheera flowers in India, these have surprising benefits and characteristics. 

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3. African Sausage Fruits

The large, sausage-shaped fruits of a Sausage Tree can grow to be up to 1 meter (3 feet) long, weighing a whopping 12 kgs. The appearance of the fruit from the outside is woody and tough. As a young fruit, these are green but they turn brown as they mature. They contain countless seeds embedded in a pulp that fall off before maturing. 


 Interesting Sausage Tree Uses: Why the Kigela africana is so Beloved 

 1. Firewood  The African Sausage fruit, when dried, can be used as a great firewood. The oil content in seeds allows the fruit to burn easily and for a longer time as well. 
2. Moisturizer Interestingly enough for non-indigenous people, the dried Balam Kheera fruit is often used by local women to apply on their skin to retain moisture and keep it smooth.  
3. Musical Uses The thick, dark-colored wood of this tree is used to create African xylophones. 
4. Night-time Blooming The Kigela Sausage Tree is known for its night-blooming flowers. Its blood-red flowers that look somewhat like Lilies open up at night, emitting their unpleasant odor and attracting unlikely nighttime pollinators such as bats.
5. Late Maturation  The seeds of this flowering tree are often dropped with the fruit long before they mature. So, in order to properly grow a healthy African Sausage plant, people often give the seeds a time of 1 years to mature and develop before being planted. 


 Sausage Tree Benefits: Does it Have Any?

The Balam Kheera plant may be known for its poisonous fruit but it has more medicinal benefits than you can imagine, and here are a few of them that you must know:

Sausage Tree Benefits


1. Traditional Medicine 

a. Skin Conditions

Extracts from the bark, leaves, and fruit are used to treat skin ailments such as eczema, psoriasis, and fungal infections.


b. Healing Wounds

The tree's components are applied to wounds and sores to promote healing and prevent infections.


c. Anti-inflammatory

The plant's extracts have anti-inflammatory properties, useful in treating conditions like arthritis and rheumatism.


d. Digestive Issues

Traditional uses include treatments for dysentery, diarrhea, and stomach aches.


e. Respiratory Ailments

Some communities use it to manage conditions like pneumonia and chest infections.


f. Antimicrobial

Studies have shown the tree's extracts have antimicrobial properties, effective against a range of bacteria and fungi.


2. Modern Research

Full view of the Sausage tree

a. Cancer Treatment

Preliminary research suggests potential anti-cancer properties, particularly against melanoma and other skin cancers.


b. Cosmetic Applications

Kigelia africana extracts are used in modern skincare products for their potential to firm and smooth the skin, as well as to treat blemishes and sun damage.


3. Ecological Benefits

a. Habitat

The tree provides habitat and food for various animals, including bats, birds, and insects.


b. Pollination

It plays a critical role in the ecosystem as its flowers attract nocturnal pollinators like bats, which are vital for the pollination of many other plants.


c. Soil Improvement

The fallen leaves and fruit contribute to the nutrient content of the soil, enhancing its fertility. The roots of the Sausage tree can also help prevent soil erosion.


4. Economic Benefits

a. Timber and Wood Products

The wood, while not highly durable, is used in making furniture, tools, and various handicrafts.


b. Cosmetic and Pharmaceutical Industries

Extracts from the Sausage Tree are increasingly popular in the cosmetics industry for their purported benefits in anti-aging and skin treatment products. The potential therapeutic properties of the tree are also being explored for development into pharmaceutical products. 


5. Cultural and Social Benefits

a. Ceremonial Uses

Parts of the Balam Kheera tree are used in various cultural ceremonies and rituals.


b. Food and Drink

In some cultures, the fruit is also processed to make traditional alcoholic beverages. While the raw fruit is toxic, proper preparation makes it safe for consumption but this should not be tried at home if you ever get your hands on the African Sausage fruit. 


6. Environmental Benefits

Shade provided by Sausage Tree

a. Shade and Shelter

The large canopy provides shade to animals and humans alike, which can be crucial in hot climates. It also offers shelter to various animal species, contributing to the local biodiversity.


At first, the Sausage Tree gives the impression of being just toxic. But the deeper you delve into the fascinating world of this tree, the more you understand about its astounding benefits. Beneficial for animals and humans alike, the Kigela africana is a beloved plant throughout Africa, and with great reason!


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