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Sterculia foetida Java Olive Kabu kabu, Kepoh Sterculiaceae


Sterculia foetida, Java Olive, Sterculiaceae, kabu-kabu, kepoh

The Wild Almond (Sterculia foetida) is a tall, straight, noble tree, transcendent in the fresh, full leafage of March and April.The grey bark is smooth, spotted with brown and faintly ridged. At certain times of the year patches of bark loosen and fall away, which impairs the appearance of the tree. The branches are whorled and usually horizontal, the numerous branchlets gracefully up-curved and crowded at the ends with large, digitate leaves.The flowers, however, bear no resemblance at all to this tree. Appearing early in February, they form at the knotty ends of the wrinkled old branchlets immediately beneath the new leaves and spread in drooping rays as much as one foot in length. The reddish-green stems bear numerous short branched stalks, each terminating in a crimson-brown flower. Coming across a Wild Almond in bloom ones first thoughts would be that one was near an open sewer and any part of the tree when bruised or cut emits this unpleasant odour.
Medical use: Leaves and bark have considerable medicinal value; in Ghana, seeds are taken as a purgative. Oil from the seed is extracted on a local scale to be used in medicine.