The tree has large maroon flowers which attract bees making it a good source of bee forage.
The Kigelia fruit is the most commonly used part of the tree.
The fresh fruit is highly poisonous. Fruits are prepared for consumption by drying, roasting or fermentation. Roasted fruits are used to flavour beer and aid fermentation.
The traditional use of Kigelia fruit has been both medicinal – to treat malaria, headaches, rheumatism, inflamed spleen, ulcers, and gastro-intestinal issues, to dress wounds and sores, and to treat a wide range of skin ailments from fungal infections, boils, acne, eczema and psoriasis, through to more serious diseases, such as leprosy, syphilis and skin cancer – and cosmetic, as a preparation to firm and enhance skin tissue, and to maintain a blemish-free complexion.
Commercial uses of Kigelia fruit extract include anti-ageing and regenerating skin care products, after-sun formulations and skin tightening cosmetics. Applied topically on affected areas, it can treat acne, eczema and psoriasis, sunburn, solar keratosis, skin pigmentation and even certain types of skin cancer.
Its anti-inflammatory properties are useful in preparations to treat rheumatism and other muscle and tissue disorders.