Annona muricata (common names: Soursop or Graviola; Mstafeli in Swahili)

Annona muricata is a member of the Annonaceae family. This particular species is exotic to Tanzania. I’m not sure when it was introduced. However, we do have a wild custard apple tree (Annona senegalensis, Mtomoko mwitu in Swahili) that is indigenous. It looks like more of a shrub and was traditionally used as food and medicine, although I’m not sure if it has quite the same effect, as the Annona muricata. We have but one pest with our Mstafeli trees: bush babies. Rarely do we get to enjoy fruit from these trees because the bush babies feast on them in the night. But we’re happy to share. The Mstafeli keeps the bush babies from feeding on our other crops, and we’re still able to harvest these little miracle leaves for our tinctures and teas. The leaves, fruit, seeds, bark, and roots have all been used in traditional medicines around the world for years. However, the leaves are especially sought after as an herbal supplement due to their incredible anticancer properties. The leaves have anti-parasitic, antimicrobial, antiviral, antidepressant, anti-pyretic, and mild sedative effects. The list goes on and on. Photos are from today’s harvest, which is of mature leaves, each of which had a little bud for a new leaf behind the stem of each leaf, to ensure the least amount of damage possible was done to the tree and it will continue to thrive. We have several of these trees in our food forest. One of which has a producing passion fruit vine draping it, and another serves as a living trellis for vanilla. 

[also in these frames: banana trees, cassava trees, a coffee tree, mint, lemongrass, and a lot of indigenous sweet potatoes!]

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