INDIAN JUJUBE (Ziziphus mauritiana)

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Musau (Sh), Umpakwe (N)

The masau is a tropical fruit tree species. Though not indigenous, it has widely naturalised in southern Africa and is found throughout Zimbabwe. Indian jujube is commonly found along roadsides where the discarded fruit pips have germinated.

The fruits are rich in vitamin C and can be made into fruit powder, fruit leather, juice and jam for the local market. They are well-known as the basis for a traditional distilled alcoholic beverage called kachasu.


Where it does well:
Masau is a hardy tree that copes with extreme temperatures and thrives under rather dry conditions. It is found throughout Zimbabwe, but only fruits in the lower lying areas. It is especially associated with the lower Zambezi valley, where it is an important supplement to rural incomes and diets.

What is harvested – Harvesting time:
The fruits are collected during the dry season from May to August.

Average yield: Trees yield 80 to 100kg of fresh fruit/year when the trees are in their prime bearing age of 10–20 years.

The fruit is red-brown when ripe and has a pleasant apricot-like flavour. The fruits are rich in vitamin C and contain useful quantities of calcium, iron and phosphorus.

The fruit is eaten fresh, but also as candied fruit, fruit in syrup, fruit leather, jam and juice. It is also used to make drinks including the potent spirit, kachasu. Ripe fruits are preserved by sun-drying and a powder is prepared for out-of-season purposes.

The leaves are nutritious livestock feed for cattle and goats.

The local, informal trade of masau is mostly at urban fruit and vegetable markets. It is formally traded as a jam. The potential on the local market is in the jam, fruit slices, fruit powder, juice, and as a basis for alcoholic beverages. Preliminary research into market opportunities around masau suggest though that the value of the fruit is too low to make it really commercially interesting, except at a very large scale.

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