There is a growing concern for everyone to start acknowledging and utilizing most underutilized plants around us. The point still remains that these plants are potential sources of foods, medicines and basic support to both humans, animals and our environments. Even though the use of certain plants as a treatment regimen for certain ailments has been in practice for a long time, yet most people are unaware of the basic things they can benefit from these plants.

Below is a group of medicinal plants that offer several therapeutic and medicinal benefits. However, it is quite disheartening that these tree species are receiving less attention despite the countless benefits we stand to gain from them. One of such underutilized but yet powerful group of plants is Chrysophyllum.

There are over 86 species of Chrysophyllum for example, Chrysophyllum albidum, Chrysophyllum cainito, Chrysophyllum oliviforme, Chrysophyllum roxburghii, Chrysophyllum imperiale, Chrysophyllum viridifolium, Chrysophyllum eximium, Chrysophyllum contumacense, Chrysophyllum delphinense, Chrysophyllum durifructum, Chrysophyllum fenerivense, Chrysophyllum novoguineense, Chrysophyllum ogowense, Chrysophyllum marginatum, Chrysophyllum mexicanum, Chrysophyllum masoalense, Chrysophyllum muerense, Chrysophyllum cuneifolium, Chrysophyllum euryphyllum, Chrysophyllum acreanum, Chrysophyllum africanum, Chrysophyllum akusae ~ to list but a few.

Chrysophyllum is a group of tropical plants that belong to the Sapotaceae family. Chrysophyllum trees usually grow approximately 10 to 20 meters height with round, pear shaped or sub-spherical shaped fruits that measure up to 3 cm diameter. The small flowers measure between 3 to 8 mm while the greenish (above) and golden pubescent (underneath), oval shaped leaves measure between 3 to 15 cm.

star apple

Both the skin and the inner pulp of the star apple are edible and can be chewed as gum due to their tendency to become gummy when chewed for a few minutes. The pulp is usually consumed fresh by pressing it hard and then sucking the pulp. Chrysophyllum fruits are not usually plucked from the trees but rather allowed to drop on the ground when ripen before gathering. Chrysophyllum fruits are seasonal fruits that usually fruit between December to April annually.

Some species of Chrysophyllum such as Chrysophyllum cainito is distinguished by its purplish outer skin and slightly purplish-white sweet edible pulp. It is also known as abiaba, aguay, golden leaf tree, cainito, pomme de lait, caimito, estrella, star apple, milk fruit, Lò Rèn milk fruit, vú sữa or vusua in Vietnam. Chrysophyllum albidum (white star apple), which is closely related to the African star apple (Chrysophyllum africanum) is distinguished by its pale yellow pericarp and light pink-coloured pulp. Chrysophyllum albidum is known as udala or udara by Igbo people, agbaluba by Hausa people, eha by Ebira, agbalumo, agwaluma or osan by Yoruba, Utieagadava by Urhobo people and ehya by the Igala people. The Sierra Leone people also refer to the fruit as bobi wata or breast milk fruit.

Chrysophyllum oliviforme (Satinleaf) is known as wild star-apple, damson plum, caimitillo, caïmite marron, saffron tree, camitillo cimarró, caimitillo de perro, macanabo or teta de burra. It also bears edible fruit that can be eaten fresh. The sweet edible pulp normally contains 5 to 6 seeds. The inedible flattened seeds are quite hard in texture and brown in appearance with whitish colour. 


17 Distinctive Benefits of Chrysophyllum Fruits

1. Nutritional Values of Chrysophyllum
Chrysophyllum fruits are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, ascorbic acid, anacardic acid, crude protein, folate, carbohydrate, sodium,vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin B1, vitamin C, crude fibre and potassium. Researchers reveal that Chrysophyllum extracts contain cardiac glycosides, tannins, phenols, steroids, reducing sugar, phlobatannins, terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids and saponins.
2. Regulates the Blood Sugar Level
Studies reveal that Chrysophyllum albidum (local cherry fruit) is essential for regulating the blood sugar level. Both the barks, leaves and roots of Chrysophyllum albidum can be used for preparing herbal medicines for regulating the blood sugar level. Chrysophyllum Canito leaves can be infused and used for treating diabetes. The seeds cotyledon possess anti-hyperglycemic properties thus can lower high blood sugar level.
3. Antioxidizing Properties
Orijajogun et al., (2013) investigated the free radical scavenging and phytochemical activities of the exocarp of Chrysophyllum albidum fruit extract. Their study shows that this fruit contains saponins, tannins, triterpeniods, alkaloids, volatile oil, steroids, resins and balsam. As a result, it can serve as a natural antioxidant booster for treating oxidative stress disorders where free radicals are present. Due to the antioxidant properties of Chrysophyllum, it can scavenge for free radicals in the body thereby reducing lipid peroxidation and preventing cancer and heart diseases.

4. Regulates the Blood Cholesterol Level
Studies reveal that the seeds cotyledon of Chrysophyllum plants possess hypolipidemic properties. The seeds cotyledons are normally used in folk medicine for preparing herbal medicines for lowering the blood cholesterol level.
5. Antimicrobial Properties
Chrysophyllum contains eleagnine, which is the key compound behind the antimicrobial properties of this plant. Researchers also agree that eleagnine is both antioxidizing, anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory in nature.
6. Dermatological Care
The leaves of Chrysophyllum plants can be squeezed and used as a soothing ointment or moisturizer for treating dry skin, skin eruption and skin itches. The cotyledons from the seeds of Chrysophyllum can also be used for treating dermatological infections as well as vaginal infections.
7. Treatment of Gastrointestinal Diseases
Studies reveal that the leaves of Chrysophyllum plants can be used for treating gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhoea, stomachache and indigestion.
8. Wound Treatment and Healing
Both the leaves, roots and barks of Chrysophyllum albidum can be used for preparing herbal medicines that can be applied on wounds, cuts, sprains and bruises for quick healing. The roots and seeds extracts can be used for seizing bleeding from fresh cuts, injuries and wounds thereby preventing microbial growth on the wound while facilitating the healing process of the injury.
9. Weight Management
Chrysophyllum fruit is an excellent source of dietary fibre. As a result, consuming this fruit helps to increase satiety thus reducing food cravings and maintaining a balanced weight.
10. Aids Easy Food Digestion
The high dietary fiber content of the star apple fruit helps in food digestion thereby preventing constipation and bloating.
11. Rheumatism Treatment
Chrysophyllum Canito leaves can be infused and used for treating articular rheumatism.
12. Malaria Treatment
The bark of star apple can be decocted and used for treating malaria and yellow fever.
13. Livestock Fodder
Both the Chrysophyllum albidum fruits and leaves can serve as fodder for feeding livestock animals such as cow, goats, pigs, cattle, goat etc.
14. Beverage Production
Chrysophyllum fruit pulp is normally used in the beverage industry for manufacturing beverages, spirits, soft drinks, wine, juice, jams and smoothies.
15. Ornamental Purposes
The brown seeds of the Chrysophyllum fruit can be used for making beads, local necklaces and decoration.
16. Musical instrument
The brown seeds can be knitted together and used as local musical instrument known as ichaka.
17. Construction Purposes
The trees of Chrysophyllum species are very hard and durable thus very good for construction purposes. The strong, heavy and durable woody tree can be cut and used for constructing rafters, fence posts and pillars.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1) Adepoju, O. T. and Adeniji, P. O. (2012), Nutrient Composition and Micronutrient Potential of three Wildly Grown Varieties of African Star Apple (Chrysophyllumalbidum) from Nigeria, African Journal of Food Science Vol. 6(12): pp. 344-348.
2) Akubor, P. I., Yusuf, D.and Obiegunam, J. E. (2013), Proximate composition and some functional properties of flour from the kernel of African star apple (Chrysophyllum albidum). International Journal of Agricultural Policy and Research, 1: pp.062-064.
3) Amusa, N. A., Ashaye, O. A. and Oladapo, M. O. (2003), Biodeterioration of the African star apple (Chrysophyllum albidum) in storage and the effect on its food value, African Journal of Biotechnology, 2: pp.56-57.
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6) Emmanuel, I. M. and Francis, O. A. (2010), Comparative Evaluation of Different Organic Fertilizers
on Soil Fertility Improvement, Leaf Mineral Composition and Growth Performance of African Cherry Nut (Chrysophyllum albidium L) seedlings. Journal of American Science, 6(8), pp. 217–218.
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