Fried Egg Tree
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Fried Egg Tree
ntroduced Photo: Nitu
Common name: Snuff-box Tree, Fried Egg Tree
Botanical name: Oncoba spinosa      Family: Salicaceae (Willow family)

Fried Egg Tree is a spiny shrub or small tree. It grows up to 5 m, but may sometimes reach a height of 8 m. The bark of this plant is mottled grey and rather smooth. The young branches are conspicuously speckled with lenticels (a slightly raised, lens-shaped area on the surface of the young stems that helps with the exchange of gasses between the plant and the surrounding air). The spines are straight and up to 50 mm in length. The leaves are simple, ovate-elliptic in form with a somewhat pointed tip and rounded, broad base. The leaves are dark, glossy green in colour and somewhat leathery and hairless. The margins are coarsely toothed. The flowers are 3 inch across, white, honey-fragrant and solitary. The fruits have a sour, edible pulp. Beautiful white and yellow flowers look like 'fried eggs' when they drop off and fall on the ground with their yellow stamens facing upwards. Flowers attract butterflies. Blooms late spring to summer. The hard-shelled fruits are used as snuff boxes. If the fruit are left to dry with the seeds inside they it make amusing rattles for children and are also used as anklets and armlets for dancers to add rhythm when performing. The pulp of the fruit is edible, but is seldom used for that purpose. In African medicine the roots are used in the treatment of dysentery and bladder complaints. Fried Egg Tree is native to South Africa.

Identification credit: Rajendra Shinde & Ajinkya Gadave
Photographed in Lodhi Garden, Delhi and Lal Bagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore.
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