These past years have recorded human beings acquisition of tremendous knowledge regarding what to eat and what not to eat, the use of plants,  herbs and fruits around us for both consumption and medicinal purposes.

Honestly, my lifetime memoirs wouldn't be complete without mentioning about this one "buttery" staple seasonal fruit - ube. I started eating the African pear since I was young and I've always looked forward to visiting my grandparent's {blessed memories} house to pluck some really fresh African pears straight from the tree---

Really precious memories that I would never forget. Honestly, I missed enjoying this fruit as I used to do in the past and grabbing the opportunity of having a family member returned back from Africa with some African pears was actually the motivating factor behind this post. Although I had only few of the pears to enjoy, yet I cherished every bit of it to the last piece.

However, before embezzling the pears, there was one important thing I didn't fail to do, which was to take a picture of the pears so as to share with my dear audience. I have no doubt that you will appreciate the picture and if that's the case, let's then unearth together some important facts about this distinctive fruit.
african pears (1)

Botanically known as Dacryodes edulis, the African pear is an evergreen tree of an African origin precisely from the eastern part of Nigeria (Igboland). The African pear is also prevalent in other African countries such as Gabon, Cameroun etc and each country and region has different names for the African pears for example; Ibo calls the fruit ube, southwestern part of Nigeria call it eleme, Gabon call it Atanga, Cameroonians call it safouin (safou) while some other parts of the world call it bush-butter pear, butter fruit or African plum. 

The Dacryodes edulis fruit (ube) has been scientifically proven to possess a broad range of medicinal, pharmacological and biological properties that are highly beneficial to human health. African pears (ube) are believed to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, diuretic, and antispasmodics in nature.

Researchers believe that these properties are as a result of the chemical constituents of the pears such as phytochemicals, minerals, sugars, vitamins, lipids and protein. Literally speaking, African pear is a fleshy pulpy and luscious buttery fruit, which is richly packed with minerals, vitamins and oils.

Reaching a height of 18–42 m in the forest but not overshooting more than 12 m in plantations, African pear is basically an annual fruit often harvested during the raining season. The African pear can be eaten raw, fried, roasted or tenderized in hot water before eating. It can be eaten alone but is ideally enjoyed together with cooked, roasted or boiled corns/maize, which makes the duo a perfect companion in-terms of their seasonality.

The pulpy pericarp of the African pear appears buttery/oily in nature and packed with minerals and nutrients. African pear is characteristically reddish in colour while still unripe however, the fruit tends to turn blue-black or violet in colour while the flesh is pale to light green once ripen. With an oval/oblong shape in appearance, the African pear contains small clustered seeds, enclosed by thin mesocarp.

The leaves are feather-like in appearance with leaflets of up to 3 to 4 cm by 2–3 cm on each side of the axis. The upper part of the leaves is shiny in appearance. The African pear tree starts flowering at the onset of the rainy season and begins fruiting within 2 to 6 months after flowering. Both the pulp and seeds of the African pear contain reasonable quantity of oil. The oil comprises of linoleic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid and stearic acid.

Knowing African pears way too well, I can tell you for sure that this fruit can easily get soften (cooked) on its own or even get spoilt when packaged in airtight container or packaging. By mere leaving ube in your mouth for few minutes can easily get it soften as if it has been cooked or roasted. This unique attribute of African pear is as a result of heat damage. Studies however revealed that the main reason for the heat damage of ube is due to its high heat of respiration, which is an excellent indicator of the metabolic activity of the tissue.

Benefits of African Pear (Dacryodes edulis)
Medicinal Purposes
The African pear tree is used by traditionalist for producing herbal medicines, which is used for treating several health disorders such as fever, wound, dysentery, sores and skin diseases. Moreover, studies reveal that the extracts of this fruit contains antioxidizing, diuretic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, anti sickle-cell and anti-spasmodics properties. These immense properties of African pear is as a result of the broad range of chemical compounds present in the fruit such as; saponins, terpenes, tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids.

Maintenance of Healthy Teeth
African pear (ube) has a high calcium content, which makes it capable of supplying the basic requirements needed for the growth and maintenance of healthy teeth including bones.

Alternative for Oil
Studies reveal that the African pear (ube) can be used as an alternative source of fats and oil. The fruit possess fatty acid composition and physico-chemical characteristics, which makes them a great potential for industrial use. African pear oil can also act as a substitute for coconut oil, vegetable oil, palm oil or groundnut oil for both domestic and industrial use.

Prevention of Vascular heart diseases
The oil of African pear contains linoleic acid, which is a vital polyunsaturated fatty acids. This type of fatty acid helps in the prevention of vascular heart diseases. Besides, the oil of African pear has a greater amount of oxidative stability unlike those with unsaturated acids.

Prevention of Skin Irritation
The oxidative stability of the African pear oil has the potentials of preventing skin irritation. The oxidation ability of the African pear oil makes it suitable for use as a body cream. The exudates from African pear (D. edulis) contain antibacterial agent and if added in creams help to stabilize emulsion. The oil is very smooth on the skin and protects the skin from dryness.

Incense production
The African pear exudates and resin can be used traditionally for the production of burning incense. The pleasant smell and smoke from the African pear exudates while burning, is believed to be capable of wading off evil spirit.

Highly Nutritive
African pear is an excellent source of vitamins C and E, which are antioxidative in nature. These vitamins help in maintaining glowing and healthy skin as well as slow down the aging process.

African pears are also rich in niacin, thiamine, magnesium, pantothenate folate, potassium, calcium, amino acids, fiber, phosphorus, riboflavin, carbohydrates and vitamin B6.

Consumption Benefits
African pear recipe is among the simplest recipe you can think of. You can either soak the pear (ube) in hot water, roast it in charcoal or even pop it into your mouth for few minutes and the fleshy buttery pulp gets soften and ready for consumption.

Just like the avocado pear (Persea americana), the fleshy buttery pulp can act as a substitute for butter or margarine for eating bread. Grab some of this unique fruit and give it a try.

Cancer Prevention
Researchers agree that eating African pears is capable of preventing women from getting postmenopausal breast cancer. This is as a result of its anti-cancerous properties.

Other uses
The resin found in African pears can be burnt for lighting, the tree can be cut and used as firewood while the leaves can be used as manure for cultivating farm produce. The tree has huge size, thus can be used to improve soil quality as well as for the prevention of erosion.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic 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.

Arisa, N. U., Lazarus, A., 2008. Production and refining of Dacryodes edulis “native pear” seeds
oil, African Journal of Biotech. 7 (9), pp. 1344-1345.

Ajayi, I. A. and Oderinde, R.A. (2002), Studies on the oil characteristics of Dacryodes edulis
pulp and seeds, Discovery and Innovation, 14, pp.20-23.

Boelhouwer, C. (1983), Trends in Chemistry and Technology of Lipids, Journal of American Oil Chem. Soc. 60 (2), pp. 457-461.

Bratte, L., Mmereole, F.U.C., Akpodiete, O.J. and Omeje, S.I. (2010), The Nutrient Composition of Seeds of the African Pear (Dacryodes edulis) and its Implications for Non-Ruminant Nutrition, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 9 (3), pp. 255-257.

Isaac, I. O., Ekpa, O. D., Ekpe, U. J. (2014), Extraction, Characterization of African Pear (Dacryodes Edulis) Oil and its Application in Synthesis and Evaluation of Surface Coating Driers, International Journal of Advanced Research in Chemical Science (IJARCS), Vol. 1, Iss. 4, PP. 14-20.

Ikhuoria, E. U. and Maliki, M. (2013), Characterization of avocado pear (Persea americana) and African pear (Dacryodes edulis) extracts, African Journal of Chemistry Vol. 1 (1), pp. 15-16.

Ijabo, O. J., Obetta, S. E. and Madugu, E. O. (2012), Effects of fruit size and initial storage temperature on the heat of respiration of dacryodes edulis, American Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research, 3(3): 150-154.

Okwu, D. E., Emenike, I. N. (2007), Nutritive value and mineral content of different varieties of citrus fruits. Journal of food technology, (5) pp. 105–107.


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