Folktales | Glossary
For many years, Boscia albitrunca, commonly known as Motlopi in Setswana, has played a major part in the lives of Batswana. This tree serves many purposes that some are not even aware of. It is often called a tree of life because of its various uses such as food for people, soil conservation and fodder for livestock during periods of famine. This tree can also be used for medicinal and ornamental purposes. It provides shade.
The tree grows in association with termite mounds and is found all over Botswana and Southern Africa. It is called white stem tree or shepherd tree in English.
Its roots can be pounded to make porridge and coffee; they can be eaten either raw or cooked as relish and they also have some preservative qualities, and they can be crushed into powder that is used to preserve animal fat. The powdered root also prevents mound that forms on oranges, tomatoes, bread and potatoes.
Motlopi fruits are edible and are used in traditional dishes and while still green, the fruits can be crushed and mixed with milk to make a drink or to make salads. The tree’s mature leaves and twigs are the preferred source for forage / fodder for livestock because they have protein and are high in Vitamin A.
Its medical uses include the treatment of epilepsy and cold with its green fruit; treatment of eye infection in cattle using the leaves; and an extract from the roots provides treatment for hemorrhoids.
Some ethnic groups believe the wood must not be used as firewood lest cattle breed male calves only. Others believe that if the fruit withers before the millet crop is ripe, then harvest will fail.
Created by Sushma Gupta on November 27, 2013
Modified on 08/26/14