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Hoslundia opposita orange bird berry, efínrín-àjàgbò, efínrín-osó (Yoruba)

This sprawling shrub of the mint family (Lamiaceae) is found in most parts of tropical Africa, including Madagascar, especially at the edges of forest and bush, and along paths in both forest and savanna zones where the soil is deep and moist.

Though scattered in distribution, it is locally common as is evident in forest areas of IITA-Ibadan. On average it reaches 3-4 m high and is easily recognized in the rainy season when both flower and fruits can be seen at the same time.

 

As with other members of the mint family, its stems are square in cross-section; they are also grooved along their length. The leaves have a strong aroma when crushed and are ovate to elliptic, occurring in pairs or whorls of 3-4. The small off-white flowers, much loved by bees and butterflies, are tubular and lobed, and are borne in open terminal panicles. They are followed by rounded, slightly pointed, grooved berries, 4-8 mm in diameter, which are pale orange when ripe and can be seen at all stages of development while flowering is still in progress. Distribution is mainly by birds.

The fruits are apparently edible but the plant as a whole is considered toxic. However, all parts except the fruits have medicinal and ritual uses, especially the leaves which are infused to treat a wide range of ailments, from wounds, fractures, skin and eye infections, to psychiatric and convulsive illnesses, jaundice, and snake bite.

Though seldom cultivated, orange bird berry has potential as an ornamental, with a long period of interest and as a food plant for birds and insects.

Hoslundia opposita

 
PLANT OF THE MONTH

African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon)

The African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon), known as arere in Yoruba and obeche in Bini, is a large fast-growing tree, reaching 65 m (213 ft), usually with a straight trunk and buttresses up to about 8 m (26 ft) high. It belongs to the family Sterculiaceae and is common in semi-deciduous rainforests from Sierra Leone to Gabon and Congo, including secondary forests where it may fill gaps as a pioneer species.

 
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