Sausage tree Tree Uses
Tree Healing Therapy
Botanical name Kigelia africana /Family Bignoniaceae
The deciduous sausage tree is found throughout tropical Africa, and its Afrikaans name worsboom ('sausage tree') refers to its long, sausage-shaped fruit. This medium-sized tree has smooth grey bark, thick branches and velvety, bell-shaped flowers that stay open for one solitary night, coloured orange to blood- red, purplish-green or maroon, from which Sunbirds sip sweet nectar. The hard grey pendulous fruit is a thin-skinned woody berry, with fibrous, soft and spongy pulp containing numerous seeds.
History, mystery and spiritual healing The sausage tree is important to African tribes because it is used in medicine, food, beer, religious ritual and magic, and for shade. It provides dugout canoes, animal fodder and is ornamental. On the night in 1855 before he first saw Victoria Falls, David Livingstone, the African explorer, pitched camp beneath a sausage tree and carved his initials on its bark.
Sausage-tree fruits are hung in African homes to ward off whirlwinds and to encourage crops to grow well. If a member of the Ndebele tribe in Zimbabwe dies abroad, the grieving family digs a grave for the absent person and buries a sausage-tree fruit in their place. Zulu warriors use the tree's leaves to polish the handles of their spears, and drink a sausage-tree fruit infusion to give themselves strength and courage in battle. The home-brewed beer confers power on the women, instead of the men who drink it; their daughters inherit secret recipes and brewing methods.
In traditional African magic- medicine, healers paint sausage-tree fruits and use them to diagnose the causes of disease; the fruits can also ward off evil spirits. The tree's fruit, bark, leaves and roots are believed to cure almost any ailment that afflicts human beings. Science shows that the plant's natural sterols help a range of skin conditions, particularly eczema.
The flavonoids have hygroscopic and fungicidal properties. Internally, the fruit is used to treat a variety of conditions including dysentery, ringworm, tapeworm, post-partum haemorrhaging, malaria, diabetes, pneumonia and toothache, plus many types of inflammation, nutritional and skin disorders, pain, poisoning and disorders in pregnancy and birth.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that antioxidant and anti-inflammatory Kigelia is an effective treatment of solar keratosis, skin cancer and the HIV-related Kaposi's sarcoma. Today, a significant body of scientific literature confirms the validity of many traditional uses of sausage-tree fruit extract for treating skin cancer.
The Tonga women of the Zambezian Valley use cosmetic preparations of the fruit facially to ensure a blemish-free complexion. Kigelia has also found European and Far Eastern markets with its active ingredient in breast- firming and skin-tightening formulations, including facial creams to which some sausage- tree steroid chemicals are added, and other products such as shampoos.
At the time of writing there are no known contraindications for the correct use of this plant.