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Ziziphus abyssinica (Kankhande)

Known locally as Kankhande.


From the Useful Tropical Plants Database

Ziziphus abyssinica is a fiercely thorny, semi-deciduous plant, varying in habit from an erect shrub; a scrambling plant that clambers into other vegetation for support; or a tree with drooping branches that form a heavy, rounded crown. It usually grows from 3 – 12 metres tall. The bole is usually straight. The plant is harvested from the wild as a local source of food, medicines and other materials. It is sometimes cultivated as a stock-proof hedge. The bitter-sweet fruit is sometimes eaten as a snack, especially by children and herdsmen, but is more commonly viewed as a famine food, eaten only when nothing better is available. The leaves can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

Root extract are traditionally used as a treatment for after-birth pains, stomach-ache, snakebite and also to induce abortion.

The plant is fiercely thorny and this virtue has been put to good use by making hedges of the plant that can keep out (or in) domestic animals and larger wild animals. A cinnamon-coloured dye is obtained from the bark. The dark-brown to black wood is hard, heavy and resistant to termites and borers and is therefore being used for furniture, interior work, carving, building poles and tool handles.


Pertinent features

  • indigenous
  • fiercely thorny and used for hedges
  • wood is resistant to termites and borers so often used for furniture
  • grown in nursery