An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Vangueria madagascariensis

Vangueria madagascariensis

The african tamarind or spanish tamarind, tamarind-of-the-Indies, voa vanga, vavangue tree (Vangueria madagascariensis J.F.Gmel. 1791) is an arboreal species belonging to the Rubiaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Rubiales Order,
Rubiaceae family,
Subfamily Cinchonoideae,
Vanguerieae Tribe,
Vangueria genre,
Species V. madagascariensis.
The terms are synonymous:
– Canthium edule (Vahl) Baill. (1878);
– Canthium maleolens Chiov. (1939);
– Vangueria acutiloba Robyns (1928);
– Vangueria commersonii Jacq. (1797);
– Vangueria cymosa C.F. Gaertn. (1805);
– Vangueria edulis Lam. (1819);
– Vangueria edulis (Vahl) Vahl (1794);
– Vangueria floribunda Robyns (1928);
– Vangueria robynsii Tennant (1968);
– Vangueria venosa Robyns (1928);
– Vavanga edulis Vahl (1792);
– Vavanga chinensis Rohr (1792).
The following varieties are recognized within this species:
– Vangueria madagascariensis var. abyssinica (A.Rich.) Puff;
– Vangueria madagascariensis var. madagascariensis.

Etymology –
The term Vangueria derives from the Malagasy vernacular name “voa vanguer” by which the species is known.
The specific epithet madagascariensis comes from Madagascar, in reference to one of the places of origin.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Vangueria madagascariensis is a plant native to the African continent and in particular to the following countries: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa (in KwaZuluNatal and Transvaal), Sudan, Eswatini, Tanzania (including the Zanzibar archipelago) and Uganda.
Its habitat is generally that of free spaces, in the savannahs, river scrub, scrubland, evergreen forest, bushy prairie, sometimes on rocky, sandy outcrops and termite mounds, at altitudes from sea level up to 2,400 metres.

Description –
Vangueria madagascariensis is a shrub or small tree, which reaches dimensions from 1.5 to 15 m in height, often with multiple stems and sometimes with expanded foliage, it is robust, glabrous, longitudinally striated, with light brown bark.
The leaves are borne by a 0.5-1.5 cm long petiole; they are simple, opposite, obovate to ovate-lanceolate with entire margin, intense green in color above, pale green with prominent ribs below, 8-24 cm long and 4-12 cm wide with obtuse or pointed apex.
The inflorescences are made up of thirty flowers, they are located on a peduncle about 0.6 cm long, they are dense axillary cymes bearing tiny flowers with a 4-5 lobed calyx, a campanulate-globose corolla, 0.5 cm long, 4-5 pale yellowish green lobes.
The fruits are drupes with a globose-depressed shape, 3-5 cm in diameter, of a shiny green color dotted with white tending to yellowish brown when fully ripe, with 4-5 lodges. Ripe fruits persist on the tree for a long time.
Inside there is a seed about 1.6 cm long surrounded by a brownish pasty pulp.

Cultivation –
Vangueria madagascariensis is a small evergreen tree or shrub that is commonly harvested from the wild and sometimes even protected when land is cleared for cultivation. The plant is grown for its fruit in several places in tropical Africa, as well as in India, Singapore, China, northern Australia and Trinidad.
It is a plant of tropical and subtropical areas, where it is found at altitudes up to 2,400 meters.
The plant is widespread in nature, but only occasionally cultivated in gardens and family gardens, suitable exclusively for tropical and subtropical climates, as it cannot tolerate temperatures close to 0 °C even for a short period; it requires full sun and is not particular about the soil, even poor, as long as it is well drained, and can withstand long periods of drought well rooted.
It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are between 17 and 29°C, but can tolerate 12-34°C.
The plants are frost intolerant and prefer an average annual rainfall of between 800 and 1,500 mm, but tolerate 600 – 2,500 mm.
From a pedological point of view it grows well on volcanic soils; light yellowish-brown to reddish-yellow sandy clays and red to dark red friable clays with a lateritic horizon, with a pH between 5.5 and 7, tolerating 5 – 7.5.
The plant can be sold and pollarded.
Reproduction occurs by seed and cuttings; the seed must be previously scarified and immersed for a day in water, having a particularly hard seed coat, and planted in an organic substrate with the addition of coarse sand, kept humid at a temperature of 22-24°C, with germination times of 1- 2 months.
The seed can retain its vitality for a year if dried properly.
There are 500-600 seeds/kg.

Customs and Traditions –
Vangueria madagascariensis was described in 1791 by Johann Friedrich Gmelin.
This plant is known by various common names, including: African tamarind, Spanish tamarind, tamarind-of-the-Indies, voa vanga, vavangue tree (English); tamarin des Indes, tamarinier des Indes, vavangue, voavanguier (French); tamarindo extranjero, tamarindo forastero (Spanish); muiru, mviru (Swahili).
The brownish pulp surrounding the seeds is edible only when the fruits are fully ripe, with a slightly acidic flavor reminiscent of tamarind or sometimes chocolate; it is mainly consumed by children.
The flowers, however, have a nauseating odor.
Wood is used as a building material and to make tools, locally highly valued as fuel or to produce charcoal. The roots and bark are used, as decoctions, in traditional medicine for various pathologies.

Preparation Method –
Vangueria madagascariensis is a plant that is used both in the food and medicinal fields and for its wood.
The fruits are eaten raw or transformed into drinks; they have an aromatic, subacid flavour.
The brown pulp has a sweet, acidic, pleasant taste, with a flavor similar to chocolate or apples.
The fruits must be consumed when they are very ripe.
In the medicinal field, the roots and bark are used in traditional medicine; in Tanzania, for example, an extract of the roots is used to treat intestinal worm infections.
An infusion of the bark is used in the treatment of malaria.
The wood is suitable for building, tool handles and carving and is popular as a source of both firewood and charcoal.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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