It is the time of year that the marula trees (Sclerocarya birrea) starts to shed its fruit. It is a time of year that most baboons, monkeys, elephant and humans wait for. The green fruit will drop from the trees, forming a blanket of fallen fruit underneath. The sweet smell of the fruit will alert all the hungry ones in the bush.
The marula fruit itself only ripens when the skin becomes a bright yellow. It is then that elephant will vie for a position near the tree. They will pop the fruit into their mouths one by one, many will pass by their massive molars and ripen in the gut system of these behemoths. The whole fruit is then passed with the bolus, creating a great compost rich environment for the seed to germinate.
Baboons also spread the seeds far and wide. The inside kernel is very hard and it proves almost impossible to gain access to the good tasting nut without smashing the seed between two rocks.
We, as bushvelders, are partial to the marula fruit, as it makes a great jelly, is good for baking and makes a potent beer when fermented. This beer is further distilled into the original South African Mampoer (pretty much like moonshine, just better!)
One of South Africa's most noted exports also revolves around the marula tree. The cream liqueur, Amarula, or 'from the marula' with its distinctive bottle have found its way into a great many suitcases and harts of our visitors.
Sitting back, staring out into the distance at the slowly sinking sun with a glass of Amarula in your hand…. Now that is how life should be lived…
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