Since I decided to plant my Mgambo tree here in Trinidad, I have been looking for information about it all over the internet.
There isn’t very much out there but this is what I have learned.
Botanical Name: Majidea zanguebarica or Majidea zangueberica (It appears both ways online.)
The word Mgambo is Swahili for “announcement” or “proclamation”.
The African Mgambo is native to East Africa. It is a small tree growing to about 5 metres tall. It has compound, pinnate leaves with up to 10 pairs leaflets. The leaves are shiny so it makes an attractive ornamental tree.
Flowers are small green-red or orange and fragrant. They occur inn dense clusters or panicles. I read too that the flowers are fragrant and the attract butterflies. Definitely a plus!
The fruit is three sided, green and turns brown on the outside when dry. When the fruit splits open, you can see the bright red interior, with 3 pairs of velvety blue-black seeds. This is where the tree gets its common name Black Pearl Tree. It is part of the soapberry family (Sapindaceae) which includes Soapberry, Akee, Rambutan and Lychee.
Other names include:
- Velvet Seed Tree
- Mgambo Tree
- Black Pearl Tree
- Velvet Seedpod Tree
Mgambo is used to treat fever, wound infections and intestinal disorders in traditional medicine as the pods and leaves have antibacterial properties.