I wrote about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables in one of my first articles on this blog. I don’t think there are any doubts about the health benefits of regularly eating fruits in a balanced diet. Many studies have proven that eating fruits in a healthy balanced diet on a regular basis is good for your health. However, when most people think of fruits in many parts of Zimbabwe, they only think of exotic fruits like apples, bananas, avocados or mangoes. Rarely, do they think of the nutritional benefits of nyii, chinga or matohwe. However, these indigenous fruits in Zimbabwe do carry a nutritional punch that may be comparable or better than that of many exotic fruits. So, in this article I will talk about the wild fruits of Zimbabwe which you can use to boost your nutritional health.
After all, it’s not all of us who can afford the costly apples, avocados, pears or peaches. However, with these indigenous wild fruits of Zimbabwe, you just need to forage and gather from the wild. And when you do find them for sale, they are usually cheaper when compared to the exotic ones. However, I prefer to be on the prowl for the wild fruits in the forest, because the highest quality is found on the tree. The ones on the market may have been prematurely harvested before they ripen, therefore, the taste may not be on par with the authentic fruit from the forest. And believe me, there are so many indigenous wild fruits in Zimbabwe, I wouldn’t finish them all. You can tell me what I have missed in the comment section.
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List of Zimbabwean wild fruits
What I love about wild fruits is the hard work involved in their collection and harvesting. And when you search from the forest tree or floors, you may need to know what you are looking for because the forest menu and shelves are no supermarkets or restaurants shelves. The Zimbabwean forests carry both highly delicious and nutritious fruits as well as appealing and poisonous fruits that will send you and your family to kingdom come! The most dangerous thing is that the poisonous fruits look as appealing and appetizing as the edible ones but they are deadly.
Whilst it’s easy for you to search for fruits in the wild, it can also be tedious. Whilst some indigenous fruits in Zimbabwe are found in huge fruit forests called “jiri”, some of them are found in isolated trees. When gathering fruits in the forests, there are fruits you can easily find like mazhanje, hapwa, masawu and shuma. However, to find tsambatsi, matunduru, and maroro, you have to search for what you know, otherwise you will find them by chance, unless you know what you are looking for.
Indigenous wild fruits in Zimbabwe
I have searched for and eaten many different types of wild fruits in Zimbabwe. And I have lived and been to many different provinces, and tried different fruits there. To be frank, I have no guts to say I am a wild fruit expert, and some of these fruits listed here are known by different names in other languages and areas of Zimbabwe. So, if you need to add a fruit name or a fruit I have missed, please do so in the comment section. After, all I have eaten some indigenous fruits in Zimbabwe and I have no freaking idea, what they are! So, in the forest the trick is to search if the birds or squirrels eat that fruit, if there is no sign of any, then don’t try them, for they will probably be poisonous.
List of common indigenous fruits in Zimbabwean wild fruits
I have decided to make a list of the different wild fruits in Zimbabwe. In this case, what I am calling common wild fruits, are the common fruits that you know and may be sold on the markets like Mbare musika. These fruits include:
- Masau (Ziziphus jujube); Round fruit that is green when unripe and turns brown when ripe. Masau are still edible and delicious after ripening, they lose their skin smoothness and become a bit shriveled after drying up.
- Tsubvu/ umtshwankela: Green in colour but turn dark shiny black when they ripen. Found in rocky kopjes.
- Nyii/umnyi: Also known as wild dates. They are eaten when brown, dry and a bit shriveled. They are a bit tasty.
- Matohwe/ uxakuxaku: A green fruit the slice like demarcations. The separate pieces separate when it ripens and develop a sweet mucilaginous substance. A local delicacy at best.
- Mauyu/ Umkhomo: Known as baobab fruit. It has a green to brown external shell with white powdery substance inside that coat even the seeds. It is this white powdery that brings delight to the tongue.
- Mazhanje/ mahobohobo: This is one of the most common fruits in Zimbabwe and is commonly sold by the road side or markets. The fruit is sweet tasting and has a peculiar fruity aroma that brings delight.
What I have noticed is that most indigenous fruits in Zimbabwe only have a very small edible section. Though they are tasty, wild fruits are not as chewy or fleshy as exotic ones!
Other wild fruits of Zimbabwe
To be frank this list is just a small section of the wild indigenous fruits you can find in Zimbabwe.
- Matamba/ mazhumwi
- Mapfura/ amarula
- Shuma/ chenjesikana
- Dzvirumombe/ nzviro
- Mufokosiyana/ musokosiyana
- Makuyu/ maonde
If you know more fruits please, leave a comment so that I can add it here. The same goes for any other names you, including those in other languages like isiNdebele, Ndau etc.
There are many indigenous fruits in Zimbabwe. Whilst, I say I have tried many different types even those whose name I didn’t know, I can say that there are still many fruits waiting to be tried out there. And I promise you that if its edible, I will try it. However, I wish that for those who harvest these wild fruits, they do so in a sustainable way. It’s very disappointing that instead of conserving these wild delicacies for coming generations, some harvesters destroy the fruit trees as they harvest. And they have the audacity to come back next year searching for the fruit whose tree they destroyed! I always try to preserve and conserve what I can, you can do it too!