Some of you might be wondering what is African Star Apple?, it is what we popularly call cherry in Nigeria. The Igbos call it Udara, while the Yorubas refer to it as Agbalumo. It is called Agwaluma in the northern region of Nigeria (Hausa-Fulani). This undisputed chairman of local fruits commonly grown and harvested in the Western, Eastern, and Central parts of Africa will either punish your taste buds or release its sweet nectar for your delightful pleasure.
It is that time of the year where this beautiful brown fruit decorates every barrow and fruit sellers’ rack. I can recall my first introduction to this rotund soft and fleshy brown fruit. It was on my way home from school I used my last 30naira to buy cherries because Temi wouldn’t share hers with me earlier. I swore to get my revenge and buy a lot, bring it to school and not give her any, my typical childhood grievances.
So yes, I bought 5 cherries with my 30naira and proceeded home to enjoy my cherries and also have some leftover for school the following day. After washing my cherries, I bit off a small portion of the head obviously and suckle on its juices. Nothing prepared me for what happened next, there was an immediate sharp sensation that shot through my teeth to my skull! It was like a mild electric shock. You guessed right, I had bought the unripe type of agbalumo. With tears in my eyes, I had to finish licking my thing. Well, I can picture you trying to hide your laughter, go ahead, laugh at me, my first experience wasn’t great at all, and my plans to carry out my revenge against Temi was not successful; but you know what I can successfully share with you?
Tips on spotting a ripe Udara and also the medicinal benefits of Agbalumo
● The peel will be dark and completely orange around the stalk on the head when ripe
● Also, when ripe the fleshy pulp looks reddish when opened
● Their fleshy pulp can be chewed on like chewing gum and helps exercise the gum
● Previous research shows it aids weight loss
● It is rich in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants which are essential to the body
● According to research by Asare et al. (2015), the peel was found to be richer in mineral composition than the pulp
● It is a natural remedy for indigestion, toothache, sore throat, and much more
● In traditional medicine, the tree bark is used for malaria and yellow fever treatment while its leaves are used for the treatment of stomach ache, wounds, and diarrhea
However, anything that is taken in excess always has adverse effects. Therefore, I admonish us all to feast on this juicy fruit responsibly. Some say this fruit is great for nursing mothers, I will advise you to consult your doctor first.
Finally, there is a myth that says “agbalumo gets sweet when rain has fallen on it”, it seems to be true from experience but I am yet to conduct research on it. So, wait for the rain on it to fully bask in all its gloriousness.
Asare, I. k., Abenaa, A. o., Duah-Bissiw, D., Ofosu, D. O., and Darfour, B. (2015). Nutritional and phytochemical constituents of the African Star Apple (Chryophyllum albidum g. Don) Annals. Food Science and Technology.