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Vitex doniana

Family: Verbenaceae

The Swahili name for this tree is mfuru. In English it is known as African plum.

This well-known species is native to much of tropical Africa. It grows where the water table is near the surface, for example on floodplains of large rivers, and is common on disturbed, cultivated ground. There are several other Vitex species; this one can be distinguished by the fruit size (2.5cm long) and the soft yellow hairs on the young twigs. It is a medium-sized semi-evergreen tree with a rounded crown. It has grey bark with fine fissures running down the trunk. The leaves are arranged like the fingers of a hand (palmate) and have five leathery leaflets, the middle one is the largest. It tree produces clusters (cymes) of white and violet coloured flowers. The fruit ripen early in the dry season and are dark purple coloured with a single large stone.

The timber can be made into planks, although little use is made of the tree in Kilwa District. Sometimes the tree’s tasty fruit can be found on sale in markets, although most are eaten raw by village children. It is one of the most important wild fruit.