Also Known As
Hog Plum [which also refers to a number of other fruiting species] [1]
Sea Lemon [2]
Tallow Plum [3]
Yellow Plum [2]
OTHER LOCAL NAMES [from the World Agroforestry Center]: 
Afrikaans (kleinsuurpruim) 
Amharic (inkoy, kol) 
Arabic (kelto, abu khamira, humeid abiad, ankwi,abu khamier, medica) 
Bemba (mulebe) 
Bislama (terengi) 
English (hog plum, wild plum, false sandalwood, seaside plum, small sourplum, sour plum, tallow nut, tallow wood, wild lime, wild olive) 
French (cerise de mer, macaby, citron de mer, croc, Prunier de mer)
Lozi (mungomba, mulutulwa, musongwasongwa, mutente) 
Luganda (museka) 
Lunda (musongwasongwa, muvulama) 
Mandinka (Nogbé, Séno, Ntogé, Séné) 
Nyanja (mtundulukwa, mtundu, kamulebe, ntengele) 
Somali (madarud, madarau) 
Spanish (hicaco, espino de brujo, ciruelillo, Caimito de monte, Cagalero, Albaricoque, Albaria, Tigrito, almendro de costa) 
Swahili (mtundakula, mtumbui tumbui, timbui timbui, mpingi) 
Tamil (chiruillantai, kadaranji, siruyilan dai) 
Tigrigna (mlehtta, mullo) 
Tongan (muchonfwa)
Pimecaria odorata [8]
Ximenia aculeata [8]
NOTE: A number of other synonyms can be found on the Atlas of Florida Plants. [8] 

Order:   Santalales
Family:   Olacaceae
Genus:    Ximenia
Species: americana

Florida n c s

Edible Parts
Fruit Leaf Extracts Caution
Animal Interaction
Other Uses
Mug Jelly Medicinal Soap Ferment Fragrant Hedge
This native dioecious shrub occurs here in Florida in the wild from Duval to Levy counties and south, and not in the panhandle. It yields edible bright yellow juicy fruits, just over an inch in diameter, that I very much enjoy, usually ripening from July through November. I wait until they turn dark yellow, slightly translucent, and soft to the touch... then they are ripe. The sweet-acid flavor differs shrub-to-shrub in my area, so I suggest seeking out the best ones. The flavor of varying ecotypes changes by location and native tribes would have known this fact. I swear that the ones near Arcadia taste better than the ones in and around Miami. The good ones taste like slightly gummy plums to me. They are most often eaten raw, and may also be cooked, made into preserves, jam, jelly, or juiced, fermented into pickles, kombucha, wine, or beer. Do not eat the large inner seed kernel though, spit it out. Also, watch out for the spines along the branches when picking ripe fruits to eat. I would like to see the fresh, furry [yes, I said furry] flowers used in aromatherapy, as they have a delightful, strong scent that reminds me of lilac blossoms. In fact, I see that the World Agroforestry Center suggests they be distilled to make an orange blossom-like essential oil. The reference book Cornucopia II lists the flowers as being eaten in soups. The large seed kernel's oil is said to be edible and is used in cooking, however it may be "strongly purgative" and should NOT BE EATEN. It is also an ingredient in soaps and shampoos. Green Deane tells us that the seed oil has been used as a "skin softener." The young leaves are mentioned as being edible by some authors when thoroughly cooked, however... CAUTION: The leaves contain cyanide [hence the almond-like scent when they are crushed] and must be cooked thoroughly and consumed in moderation, if at all. That said... DO NOT CONSUME THE LEAVES - DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH ON THEIR EDIBILITY. Among many medicinal uses, natives of Florida used the bark to treat "sore muscles and gums." Many other uses, most African, are detailed in the plant profile details below. Birds and other wild animals consume the fruits. One last point of interest is the fact that this plant may often be parasitic, "with haustoria on the roots," deriving nutrients in part from the roots of other trees. 

CAUTION: Watch out for the spines while picking fruits. DO NOT CONSUIME THE LEAVES which are said by some authors to be edible when cooked. They contain cyanide [hence the almond-like scent when they are crushed] and must be cooked thoroughly and consumed in moderation, if at all. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH ON THE EDIBILITY OF THE LEAVES BEFORE CONSIDERING INGESTION. Also, some sources list the cooked inner seed kernel as being edible, however, DO NOT CONSUME THE SEED, as other sources list it as "strongly purgative."   
 I wait until they dark yellow, slightly translucent, and soft to the touch, then they are ripe. The flavor differs shrub-to-shrub in my area, so I suggest seeking out the best ones. The flavor of varying ecotypes matter and native tribes knew this fact. I swear that the ones near Arcadia taste better than the ones in and around Miami. The good ones taste like slightly gummy plums to me. The fruits may be eaten raw [not the inner kernel] or juiced [remove the seed kernel first]. They are plum-like in flavor, acid/sweet, with a slightly astringent flavor and a slightly sticky / gummy texture. I would like to see someone ferment the ripe fruit juice into a kombucha or something similar. Green Deane is correct when he calls them "tangy." [3] He also mentions that they may be eaten cooked and that some fruits have a "bitter almond" flavor. [3] He mentions them being made into "juice, jelly [and 6], jam [and 6] , and wine." [3] The fruit are "eaten raw or made into preserves, pickles and fermented into a beer." [18] "The plant is gathered from the wild, and also cultivated in the tropics and subtropics of Asia, N and NE Australia, Africa and the Americas, for the edible fruits and seeds (raw or pickled) and a myriad of other uses." [14] "It was reported that the Sandawe [of southeast Africa] rely on the fruit as a staple." [6] "In South Africa, the fruits have been used to make a kind of beer." [13]
EDIBLE FLOWERS: The flower petals are "eaten in soups." [19]
FLOWER ESSENTIAL OIL: "The flowers have an essential oil that could be a good substitute for orange blossom." [13]
INEDIBLE COOKED INNER SEED KERNELS: Cornucopia II states, "The roasted seeds are edible, but can be purgative if eaten in quantity." [19] CAUTION: Other sources state that the seed/kernel is "strongly purgative."
INEDIBLE SEED OIL: Some reputable source list this oil as being edible. "Kernel roasted but in limited quantities, seed oil is edible" and can be used as a "vegetable butter." [3] CAUTION: "The fatty kernel contains hydrocyanic acid, which gives them their almond flavour - it is not advisable to chew on them." [13] "A non-drying oil is obtained from the seed." [19]
MEDICINAL FRUITS: "The fruit has been used for constipation." [3]
MEDICINAL GREEN FRUITS: "Green they were used to numb gums." [3]
FRUITING SEASON: I harvest them here in south-central Florida from July through November. Green Deane, who lives in the Orlando area, reports them as being ripe both spring and fall. [3]
EDIBLE COOKED YOUNG LEAVES: Wikipedia writes, "In Asia, the young leaves are cooked as a vegetable. However, the leaves also contain cyanide and need to be thoroughly cooked, and should not be eaten in large amounts." [2] Cornucopia also mentions that the cooked leaves are edible. [19]
MEDICINAL LEAVES: "The leaf extract is active against Escherischia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans." [2,10] "Leaves are used for headaches, angina, and a poison antidote." [3]
MEDICINAL LEAVES AND TWIGS: "Leaves and twigs are used to treat fever, colds, as a laxative and an eye lotion." [3]
MEDICINAL BARK: "Indigenous people of Florida used the bark to treat sore muscles and gums." [2,9] "The bark has been used for febrile headaches, bath water for sick children, for kidney and heart complaints, and applied to skin ulcers." [3] "Stem bark methanolic and water extracts of showed a spectrum of activity against E coli, P. vulgaris, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa and B. subtilis." [3]
MEDICINAL ROOTS: "Roots are used for skin problems, headaches, venereal disease, sleeping sickness, and water retention." [3]
MEDICINAL USES: It "was investigated by researchers from Nigeria's Ahmadu Bello University. In animal tests, it has shown some effect against the parasite that causes sleeping sickness and severe anemia in livestock in many parts of Africa." [2,10] ANDY'S NOTE: Many more medicinal uses may be found on fao.org, Useful Tropical Plants, and World Agroforestry Center websites.
USEFUL SEED OIL: The seed oil can be used for "lubrication." [3]
COSMETIC SEED KERNEL OIL: It has been added to soaps and shampoos. [1] According to Green Deane, "the fruit is high in vitamin C and oil that has been used externally on hair and as a skin softener." 
AROMATHERAPY: I would like to see the fresh flowers used in aromatherapy, as they have a delightful, strong scent that reminds me of lilac blossoms.
CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS: "Tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins, anthraquinones, and general glycosides were found in the extract." [2,10] "The root also contains the fatty acids tariric acid and 10Z,14E,16E-octadeca-10,14,16-triene-12-ynoic acid." [2, 11]     
HEDGE: [1,14]
WILDLIFE PLANT: "Birds and other wildlife will eat the fruit." [1] 

NATIVE TO: Here in Florida, it grows from Duval to Levy counties and southward through the state. [8] The World Agroforesrty Center writes, "Native to: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Gambia, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Surinam, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe." [13]
HABITAT: Wet areas near rivers, pine flatwoods. "Scrub, xeric hammocks, swamps." [1] Near streams and rivers. On coastal islands. "Hammocks, scrub, pinelands." [7]
ETYMOLOGY: "Ximenia was named after a Spanish monk, Francisco Ximeniz. The specific name is the Latin form of ‘American’." [13]
DESCRIPTION: A thorny fruiting tree or shrub. The "crown is narrow and irregular and the trunks and branches are crooked or twisting." [1] - PARASITIC:  It "may be semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants which makes it challenging to grow. Best planted near a potential host such as an oak." [1] "Plants are sometimes semi-parasitic [able to take water and nutrients from other plants through the roots, but not dependent upon this for survival." [13] "Sometimes semiparasitic with haustoria on the roots." [5] Google definition: "A slender projection from the root of a parasitic plant, such as a dodder, or from the hyphae of a parasitic fungus, enabling the parasite to penetrate the tissues of its host and absorb nutrients from it." [20] "The plant is often semi-parasitic."  [5]
- DIOECIOUS: Seed Leaflets, a publication from University of Copenhagen and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, list it as being dioecious. [17]
- PHENOLOGY: Deciduous.
- HEIGHT: They tend to grow taller, the further south one travels in Florida. 10-25' tall. [1] Rarely to 30 or 35' tall. [12,4,3]
- WIDTH: 10-20'. [1]
- WOOD: "Very dense." [3]
- TRUNK: Up to 4" diameter. [13]
- BRANCHES / SPINES: Long, scrambling, thorny. Often forming a zig-zag pattern. Spines usually half an inch, sometimes to one inch long.  "Branchlets purple-red with a waxy bloom." [5]
- LEAVES: "Leaves are oval shaped, bright green and have a strong smell of almonds" when crushed. [2] This is due to the cyanide compound within. Alternate. Look for light green leaves from a distance when hiking through dry scrub or flatwoods. Up to 3" long. "Oblong or elliptic, rounded or notched at the apex. [3]
- FLOWERS: White [occasionally light green or even light pink], four petals, appearing furry [yes, I said furry] within the petals - very interesting. Less than half an inch wide. Very fragrant, they remind me of lilacs blossoms. "In small clusters." [3]
- FRUITS: Round, over an inch in diameter, lemon yellow, smooth, showy. Wikipedia mentions that they also may be orange-red, but I have never seen them this color. [2] "Plants can flower and fruit on several occasions each year." [17]
- BEARING AGE: "Seedling plants can commence fruiting when 3 - 4 years old." [17]
- SEED: Large, oval. It contains a kernel within.
RELATED SPECIES: This is the only Ximenia species found growing wild in Florida.
- HARDINESS: USDA zones 9A-11B. [1] It "may die back in winter in northern parts of its range."
- LIGHT: Full sun to partial shade. [1,16]
- SOIL pH: Adaptable. [1]
- SOIL: "Sand, loam, lime rock, organic material (muck)." [1]
- DROUGHT TOLERANCE: Highly drought tolerant. [1] "Plants are drought tolerant once established." [13] Drought tolerant. [5]
- SALT TOLERANCE: Highly salt tolerant. [1]
- PRUNING: It "can be trained as a tree in the right conditions." [1]
- PROPAGATION: By seed. [1] "Seed, sown fresh, it usually germinates well." [13] 

More Details

Flower Color
Requires Pollinator
Flowering Type

Fruiting Calendar

Fruit Color
Bearing Age
3 years

Coastal Scrub Pine Flatwood Near streams and rivers

Plant Form
Woody Evergreen Perennial Shrub
25 feet
20 feet
Part Sun Full Sun
Poor Sandy Rich Clay
Drought Tolerant


[1] Florida Native Plant Society [fnps.org] 
[2] Wikipedia 
[3] eattheweeds.com 
[4] Useful Tropical Plants 
[5] worldagroforestry.org 
[6] fao.org 
[7] wildflower.org 
[8] Atlas of Florida Plants 
[9] 50 Common Native Plants Important In Florida's Ethnobotanical History, by Ginger M. Allen, Michael D. Bond, and Martin B. Main. University of Florida IFAS Extension 
[10] Studies of antimicrobial activity and chemical constituents of Ximenia americana. DS Ogunleye and SF Ibitoye, Trop J Pharm Res, December 2003, 2(2), pages 239-241 
[11] C18 Acetylenic Fatty Acids of Ximenia americana with Potential Pesticidal Activity. Majekodunmi O. Fatope, Oumar A. Adoum and Yoshio Takeda, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2000, 48 (5), pages 1872–1874  
[12] Edible Wild Plants of Tanzania [via 4] 
[13] World Agroforestry Centre [via 4] [oops, I have also listed it here as 5] 
 [14] Dictionary of Economic Plants [via 4] 
[15] Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants [via 4] 
[16] Ecocrop [via 4] 
[17] Seed Leaflets, from University of Copenhagen and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew [via 4] 
[18] Nuts, by F.N. Howes [via 4] 
[19] Cornucopia II [via 4] 
[20] Google 
Last Updated: January 30, 2018