Ntonga or Monkey Orange

Ark of taste
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Ntonga (S. cocculoides) is the local name for the fruit (also called monkey orange) of a shrub or small wild tree that gorws 3-8 m tall, with thick, ridged, brown and corky bark. The tree produces greenish-white flowers and fruits that are 2-7 cm in diameter with a smooth, woody shell that is dark green mottled with paler green. Upon ripening, the fruit turns yellow. The ntonga fruit contains numerous seeds in a juicy, yellow, fleshy pulp. The tree flowers during the rainy season (October to February) and fruits ripen during the dry season, 8-9 months later.   Ripe fruits may be picked from the tree or collected from the ground. Alternatively, green fruits can be picked from the tree and stored for ripening. The fruit is mixed with honey or sugar to treat coughing. The root can also be chewed to alleviate eczema and is an alleged cure for gonorrhea. The ripe fruit is eaten mainly by children, but also enjoyed by adults. Ntonga can also be used to make a dye and as a natural laundry detergent.   Ntonga is a common wild fruit of Nyamwezi tribe, who mainly eat it fresh when it is in season. It is both harvested for personal use and available for purchase locally. This species is found growing naturally in all districts of Tabora in central Tanzania. However, due to alteration or disappearance of rural ecosystems and landscapes, and a lack of attention from younger generations who prefer eating exotic fruits rather than traditional ones, ntonga trees and the fruit are at risk of being lost as a food tradition.

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Territory

StateTanzania
Region

Tabora

Other info

Categories

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Indigenous community:Nyamwezi