This medium to a large-sized deciduous tree has edible fruit that is very nutritious and highly sought out by humans and animals alike. Animals are known to become intoxicated after eating fruit that is fermented, usually, on the ground say hello to the 'cider tree' aka Marula.
The Marula tree grows to 10–17 m tall, usually flowering between September and December and fruits from January to March. The male and female flowers grow on separate trees with the male flowers being dark red in the bud stage and pink and white when open, the female flowers are blood-red when in bud and reddish-purple and white when open.
Fruiting occurs in wild trees at the age of 7–10 years, but the yield increases as the tree ages to well over 100 years. The oval, white-fleshed, plumb-sized fruits of marula (about 3.5 cm in diameter) are pale green, turning yellow after falling in the period from February to June with a sharp, sweet scent.
The 2–3 cm long fruit stone is hard and contains one to four cavities, each usually with one seed, it is from these seeds that marula oil is cold-pressed. The marula tree is much revered by the indigenous people of Southern Africa, who extract the oil themselves for cracked, dry or damaged skin. It is a prized cosmetic oil for both skin and hair, being similar to olive oil in composition.
Protect and Restore Your Skin With Marula
Marula Oil is rich in essential fatty acids:
Omega 9 (oleic) are unsaturated fats, it aids in the reduction of skin inflammation and assists with reactive skin conditions.
Omega 6 (linoleic) are polyunsaturated fats, essential for human health because the body cannot manufacture them, it is essential in stimulating healthy cell production and turnover.
The fatty acids present in Marula oil are very similar to those present in the epidermis and can be considered biomimetic. Offering moderate prevention of transepidermal water loss with occlusive effects.
With a fine molecular structure that contributes to its effectiveness not only as a skin moisturizer but also as a protector. The absorption of the oil into the skin is due to the high percentage of oleic acid and the presence of palmitic acid which are known to disturb the stratum corneum intercellular lipids. Marula Oil is non-comedogenic and has anti-microbial properties which can help heal and reduce acne blemishes and scarring.
Marula Oil helps reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and increases the smoothness of the skin. Easily absorbed, Marula oil supports the natural buildup of the skin’s lipid layers improving skin elasticity and possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
Indigenous medicinal use of the marula tree
The sustainable growth of the Marula tree along with the ethical sourcing of the oil is of paramount importance for the local indigenous population who have relied on this precious tree for thousands of years, there are many ways in which the tree is utilized:
BARK - The bark contains antihistamines and is used for cleansing by inhaling the steam. A decoction of the bark is used to treat human circulatory system (hemorrhoids) disorders; as well as digestive disorders and diarrhea (crushed bark is used with boiled water), liver problems, fever, venereal diseases, malaria (malaria prophylactic), inflammation, rheumatism, painful teeth, and warts. Grounded bark mixed with soft porridge is used to help wean and strengthen babies. In East Africa, the bark is used for toothache, constipation and stomach disorders.
ROOTS - Roots are used for many purposes in Zimbabwe, including menorrhagia, bilhazia, sore eyes, weakness, and heart pain. In East Africa, roots are used with other species in an alcoholic medicine to treat an internal ailment known as kati. In Senegal, root bark and leaves are used with other plants for snakebite and other venoms.
LEAVES - Leaf decoctions inhaled for malaria in Madagascar. Leaves may be used as dressings for burns.
FRUIT - It is high in vitamin C and can be eaten fresh. It is also cooked and used to produce juices, jams, and alcoholic drinks. A drink can be made from boiled marula fruit skin, or a coffee substitute can be made from burnt skin.
CATERPILLARS - Large saturniid caterpillars and the larvae of cerambycid wood boring beetles are taken from the marula tree and roasted.
Marula Oil contains a large proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids and natural antioxidants which make the oil very stable.
Mono-unsaturated fatty acids:
Oleic acid - 70 - 78%
Polyunsaturated fatty acids:
Linoleic acid - 4.0 - 7.0%
Alpha-linolenic acid - 0.1 - 0.7%
Saturated fatty acids:
Palmitic acid - 9 - 12%
Stearic acid - 5.0 - 8.0%
Arachidonic acid - 0.3 - 0.7%
Vitamins: Vitamin E - provides protection and helps skin retain moisture is a free radical scavenger and increases cell renewal.
Antioxidants: Tocopherols, sterols and flavonoids, procyanidin, galattot-tannins, and catechins.
PLANT PART USED: Nut from the fruit
INCI NOMENCLATURE: Sclerocarya birrea
METHOD OF EXTRACTION: Cold Pressed
CULTIVATION METHOD: Certified Organic
ORIGIN: South Africa
AROMA: Subtle nutty aroma
HARVESTING FACTS: The Marula fruit harvest starts in January of each year, the season is very short and lasts only 3 months.
Marula has been incorporated into Cell Affinity Coactive Serum | TANU, due to its biomimetic nature along with antioxidants offering protection against photo-aging by neutralizing free radicals. TANU is now available, below is a quick link to the shop!
Until next time,
be human, be kind, be you.
REFERENCES /Safety and efficacy of Sclerocarya birrea (A.Rich.) Hochst (Marula) oil: A clinical perspective Baatile Komane Ilze Vermaak Beverley Summers Alvaro Viljoen