Scientific name
Ziziphus mauritiana1 (?) 

Family name

Local name(s)
Gusura (Afargna)

General description
Z. mauritiana is a much-branched shrub or tree up to 10m of height, dropping angular branches, crown rounded. The plant has strong spines, paired with one straight and one recurved ('thumb-pointer') spine or small, single and recurved. The bark is dark grey-brown and only smooth when young. The leaves are hairless and shiny and alternate. Flowers are very small, yellow-green, crowded in heads by leaves with a sharp sweet smell. Fruits are round (~ 2cm) shiny yellow then red-brown when ripe, with two seeds in a large stone.

Edible part(s), preparation methods and palatability
The fruits are collected and eaten (flesh part) by children in normal times. But in severe food shortage time adults also consume the fruits. The pulp of the fruit is very acidic and not much liked under normal circumstances.

Nutritional value
Fruits of ziziphus species contain an extremely high vitamin C portion: Oranges contain ~ 57mg/100g, whereas ziziphus species contain up to 1000mg/100g (Grosskinsky, 1999: p. 23).

The species is wide spread in tropical Africa, often naturalized. It is common in Ilubabor, Gamo-Gofa, Sidamo, Hararghe in dry and moist lowlands (400 - 1,600m). The species has a strongly developed root system and does best in areas with a high water table.

Propagation method(s)
Propagates by seeds, seedlings, direct sowing, root suckers as well as by cuttings.

Sample location(s)
Near Garsa Gita beside Mile-Bati road in a riverbed, Afar Region

Z. mauritiana is a very important tree for dry areas because of its many uses. Besides its edible fruits, the tree produces firewood, charcoal, timber (utensils), animal fodder from the leaves and the fruits, bee forage, live fence and is also a good soil conservator.

1 Parts of the following description have been taken from Bekele-Tesemma et al., 1993: p. 452/453

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‘Gusura’ branch and leave details. Neither fruits nor flowers were found on the sample tree near ‘Garsa Gita’ village in Afar Region