Truly WOW Facts About the Wondrous Shea Tree

Shea Tree
The seeds of Shea tree are used for making butter, which is not only used as an edible product, but also has therapeutic benefits. This Buzzle article gives you more details about this tree.
The fruits produced by Shea trees form an important part of the diet of the Africans. It is a perennial tree which starts producing fruits at the age of 10 - 15 years. It takes 20 - 30 years for the complete growth of this tree. The botanical name of this tree is Vitellaria paradoxa. This plant is naturally found in the areas that are on the southern side of Savannah grasslands. It means that the region where this tree grows extends from eastern Senegal to northern Uganda. Its seeds or nuts are used in the preparation of shea butter, which has a great commercial value.

It is very important from the point of sustainable development of the African rural economy. Efforts have been taken in countries like Ghana to grow this tree on a commercial basis. The Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) started systematic research on this plant, which led to the establishment of a subsidiary research station at Bole, Northern Ghana in the year 1976.

Facts
The name Shea is given to this plant by people speaking the Bambara language. It has however, many different names and a few of them are as follows: Wolofs (used in Senegal), Karate (French), Okwuma (used by the Ibos tribe), Mankade (Hausas tribe) and Orioyo (Yorubas tribe).
  • The leaves, roots, cortex, and bark of the tree are used in the preparation of traditional medicines in Africa.
  • This African tree has a good commercial value. However, it is not exploited to its full potential.
  • Fruits obtained from this tree can be eaten either in their raw state or by cooking them. It is the nuts which hold greater commercial value than fruits because of the different products prepared from them.
  • The extract or oil obtained from its seeds is used in the preparation of solid and creamy fat, which is mainly used for the purpose of skin moisturizing. However, the butter can also be used for edible purpose.
  • The other applications of the extract are preparation of cooking oil, soaps, and hair care products.
  • The wood obtained from this tree is durable, strong, heavy, and most importantly, termite resistant. Charcoal made from the wood of this tree is of excellent quality.
  • Extract of the nuts obtained from this tree is also used in reducing inflammation that is associated with osteoporosis.
  • One should also look for side effects (if any) that result from the use of cosmetics made from this butter. Testing should be done by applying a little amount on the skin.
The Farms
Growing this particular tree requires a well-drained soil, preferably sandy or clay. If the drainage is not appropriate, roots may get damaged and the wilting process may start. Late spring or early summer is the best time for sowing its seeds. Maintaining enough space for growing the plant is important. Using humus and other organic fertilizers is best for the growth of this plant. Watering the saplings in their early stages is necessary for healthy growth; it helps them survive in dry conditions. In the rainy season, the plants benefit from ground water and therefore, occasional watering is enough to fulfill their needs. Weeds can be one reason which hamper the growth of the plant. Regular trimming of weeds can help in proper growth of these trees.

This tree is economically very useful for Africans, and should be used for the development of the rural people. It will help them obtain monetary benefits, which is why steps must be taken for the preservation of the tree.