Ximenia is a genus of small trees and shrubs named after the 17th century Spanish monk Franciso Ximenez. The trees are found in abundance across Southern Africa and grow at low altitudes in woodlands and grassy savannahs.
The tree is commonly known as the wild plum or monkey plum. The fruits do indeed resemble plums and vary in colour from dark red-brown to bright orange and scarlet.
Traditional Uses and Known Properties
Women and girls in Southern Africa use Ximenia oil to soften their skin and condition their hair. It is particularly popular as a massage treatment for dry and chapped skin.
Ximenia fruits are rich in vitamin C. As well as being eaten raw, they are used to make jams, jellies and drinks.
Ximenia seed oil has been shown to be an effective treatment for dry skin prone to ageing since it increases moisture levels and improves the function of sebaceous tissues. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and the presence of active ximenynic acid has been shown to improve blood flow in the skin.
Potential commercial uses for Ximenia include:
- Emollient, moisturising and anti-ageing skin care products.
- Anti-acne products.
- Products for dry, fragile and damaged hair.
- Lipsticks and lip balms.
For further information on Ximenia seed oil, please take a look at our Oils site.
Useful studies on Ximenia oil include:
- Berchen, J. (1994) Ximenia americana. Aspects of traditional and potential utilisation of the indigenous vegetation of Northeastern East Africa- a contribution of ethnobotany to self- reliant and people- orientated development at the Horn of Africa, OMIMEE Intercultural Publishers.
- Eromosele, C. O., Eromosele, I.C. (2002) Fatty acid compositions of seed oils of Haematostaphis barteri and Ximenia americana. Bioresource Technology 82: 303-304.
- Gronhaug, T. E., S. Glaeserud, et al. (2008). Ethnopharmacological survey of six medicinal plants from Mali, West Africa. Journal of Ethnobiology amd Ethnomedicine 4(26).
- James, D. B., Abu, E.A. and Wurochekke, A.U., Orji, G.N. (2007) Phytochemical and antimicrobial investigation of the aqueous and methanolic extract of Ximenia americana. Journal of Medical Science 7(2): 284-288.
- Palmer, E. and Pitman, N. (1972) Ximenia L. In Trees of Southern Africa. A. Balkama, Cape Town, pp. 560-563.