Know your farm : nhundurwa – sodom’s Apple
please note : the fruit of the sodom apple shrub is poisonous and not fit for human consumption.
Fruit from the Apple of Sodom is poisonous and the foliage of the weed is not readily eaten by stock because it is prickly. The plant is a problem in unimproved pastures
labelled as an invasive species. Sodom apple is the common name and its scientific name is Solanum incanum. This shrub belongs to the Solanaceae family which has up to 2000 different species, of which a 100 can be found in tropical Africa.Never heard of this family of plants? You have. It has three species that we all know very well; potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants all belong to the Solanum family.
The fruit is used to stop bleeding or is pressed into wounds and the juice of the fruit can be used to help with toothaches. The stems are made into toothbrushes, which some tribes believe has an anti-bacterial effect. The roots of the shrub are boiled and drunk to relieve
The shrub can grow to 2 meters high and has thorny branches and stems. The leaves are very soft to the touch, which is why some of the native tribes use it as toilet paper. When blossoming, the shrub produces purple flowers that grow into light green fruit. When ripe the fruit is bright yellow.
Plants plays a very important role in indigenous communities, not only do they provide food, building material and food for livestock but most importantly, traditional medicine.
Sodom apple has many medicinal properties amongst many tribes in Tanzania. It is believed that the flowers are lucky charms. When travelling for example you can take some flowers with you for the journey. Some also place these flowers in front of their shops in the hope that it will bring luck to the business.
The roots of the shrub are boiled and drunk to relieve stomach pains.
- Roots are poisonous and used for treating snakebites.
- Latex is used against ringworm and as laxative.
- An infusion of bark powder is used in the treatment and cure of leprosy and elephantiasis.
- Extremely poisonous roots are used in the treatment of snakebites.
- Leaves are used for the treatment of asthma.
- Milky sap is used as a rubefacient and is also strongly purgative and caustic.