Recently, a number of the rangers decided to venture on an afternoon bumble together to focus on smaller lesser spoken-about aspects of a game drive that Londolozi has to offer. The topic of blogs came up and we were discussing what we all wanted to write about next. I was hoping that this drive with friends would inspire me. We weren’t too far out of camp when we noticed that the marula trees had started fruiting and quite a few fruits were falling to the floor. It was clear as day, there was only one thing to write about and that was the marula tree and the significance they have at Londolozi. So I have decided to break this up into a number of different parts.
In the early days, there was a veterinary fence that separated the Kruger National Park from the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve, erected to prevent the spread of disease from cattle to wildlife within the park, particularly buffalo. This prevented the animals from moving freely between the two parks, and elephant numbers were much lower in the Sabi Sands. This lower number of elephants allowed for marula trees to grow in greater numbers as this is a preferential tasty treat on the elephants menu.
Marula trees are well known for their delicious fruit which is a favourite among humans and wildlife alike. The primary reason that plants produce fruit is for reproduction. The fruit of the marula tree contains seeds that are necessary for the tree’s survival. These seeds are dispersed by various means such as elephants eating the fruit and then spreading the seeds through their dung. The seeds that are fortunate enough to find suitable conditions will germinate and grow into new marula trees ensuring the survival and continuation of the species.
Fruit also serves as a way for plants to attract animals that will help in the dispersal of their seeds. The marula tree is particularly successful in this regard, as it produces large quantities of fruit that are high in sugar and other nutrients. This attracts a wide variety of animals such as elephants, baboons, and birds, who eat the fruit and disperse the seeds. This mutually beneficial relationship is known as seed dispersal.
The highly nutritional marula fruits are, and continue to be, the key to this tree’s success around Africa and in particular, Londolozi. Personally, they are one of my favourite trees not only because of their fruit, but for the variety of animal life that they attract ranging from birds to leopards.
Next time you’re at Londolozi and the marulas are fruiting, make sure you stop your ranger and try one of these incredible fruits. Stay tuned for the next part of this series where we put the fruit to good use.
Filed under General Nature Leopards Ranger Wildlife
Hi Patrick, I watched a wonderful series of documentaries about African majestic trees and the surrounding nature that benefit from them, it was a trilogy produced by the Jouberts. Africa’s tree of life: marula, sausage tree and baobab. Of course, everybody on earth kbow what a baobab is, but those movies were a lovely surprise. Also touching, with a delightful soundtrack. I learned a lot. Very interesting and well written blog thank you!
What a beautiful way to describe the magnificence of the Marula tree. Must try the fruit next time! BTW the liquor was delicious.
While I’ve tasted Amarula liqueur, I’ve yet to try a fresh marula fruit. Could you describe the texture? I bet they would go well with cacao – yum!
Are the fruits available year round?
Ok, we give….what does the fruit taste like??
Thank you for the information Patrick. I look forward to your future blogs about the Marula trees and their fruit.
Maybe this is coming in part two…but do you guys eat the fruit? If so, what does it taste like? And what does it look like inside? 🙂
Patrick your view high up I the marula tree must of been incredible, nor wander the leopards go up there to see the impalas. Marula fruit must be very sweet that’s why the elephants and baboons love to eat them. Wonderful tree that bears so much fruit for the animals and birds.
Thanks, Patrick for the nice blog on Marula Trees. I am looking forward to the next part about these trees and their fruits.
Great story Patrick! Not only is the fruit delicious, but I like how this tree takes care of the earth as well, via various byproducts by animals and the creation of jams, desserts and of course, Amarula, a favorite addition to bush coffee in the morning!
I must try one next time! I love seeing a leopard resting in a marula tree, or an elephant stand on his hind legs to try to reach the fruits that are high up
Very special trees! I love the time of year when they’re flowering, early mornings, listening to the hum of hundreds of bees enjoying their sweet nectar.
Fun post Patrick, great picture of you playing the part of the leopard in the marula tree, and looking forward to what you do with the fruits in your next blog!