Spiny Monkey Orange Tree (photo credit: G. Baumann)

The Spiny Monkey Orange (Strychnos spinosa), which is known as ‘mateme’ in Chichewa, is also sometimes called the Natal Orange or Kaffir Orange. This tree grows throughout Malawi and is indigenous to Africa.

The smooth, hard-shelled fruits are green and turn yellow when ripe. The seeds are poisonous, but the fruit flesh is edible, tasty, and refreshing. It is high in Vitamin C and potassium. The fruits can stay fresh and edible for up to three months after being removed from the tree.

There are about 75 Strychnos species which have been identified throughout Africa, with 20 of those producing edible fruits. These trees are also exceptionally drought-resistant which makes them a nutritious source of food during times of climatic changes.

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