Ximenia seed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids (approximately 92%) and therefore has a considerable nutritional value. The oil helps to preserve the integrity of the cell wall and has a restructuring effect and has an anti aging effect on the skin. Its long chain fatty acids bring a good substantivity and is nourishing and moisturizing, while Ximenia oil softens and revitalizes the skin naturally.
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The botanical name is Ximenia spp and is also commonly known as wild plum and sour plum
Ximenia Americana: A semi-deciduous shrub or small tree usually up to 6 meters tall with a blue-green appearance and an often scraggy and leaning trunk. The branches are purple-red with a waxy bloom. The leaves grow in tufts and are grey-green, hairless and leathery. The fragrant white, yellow green or pink flowers usually appear from July to October but can also be seen from January to March. They occur in branched inflorescences on stalks.
Ximenia Caffra: Also a semi-deciduous shrub or small tree, X. Caffra is not easy to distinguish from X. Americana, which occurs in similar habitats. The flowers of the X. caffra occur either singly or in bunches and the fruits are orange to bright scarlet.
The yellow or speckled rose red plum-like fruits with a single seed ripen a couple of months after the flowers have bloomed. The pale orange flesh is edible with a tart almond-like flavour. The fruit of the X. Caffra is apparently more palatable that those of the X. Americana.
Both species are widespread throughout tropical Africa in hot, low-altitude areas from Senegal and the Sudan to Angola to the Northern Transvaal.
Fruits of both species can be eaten raw and are used to make a sour preserve or an intoxicating drink (Rindl, 1921). The seed and fruit pulp contain hydro-cyanic acid.
The oil is extracted from the kernel and used in various ways. An edible, non-drying oil is produced which is suitable for soap manufacture and lubrication and has been used traditionally as a cosmetic to anoint the body and as a cure for chapped and dry feet (Venter and Venter, 1996).
It is also used to daub on the hair as a conditioner. The bushmen oil their bows and bow strings with it, and use it to anoint themselves because it softens the skin. Pedi women use it in preparing traditional leather aprons (Palmer and Pitman, 1972; Booth and Wickens, 1988). The oil is also used to soften leather and is burned as a torch. The bark and roots of both species have a wide variety of medicinal uses and a leaf infusion of Ximenia caffra is thought to dispel bad dreams.
The yellowish wood of both X. caffra and X. Americana is scented and resembles sandalwood or boxwood. It is fine-grained, heavy hard and duriable and is used for making cooking sticks and other small household items.
Ximenia oil is beneficial because of its content of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (about 99%), which make it, stable to oxidation and experiments have shown that the oil is useful for dry skin prone to early senescence and it is helpful to improve the functionary of the sebaceous tissues. Apart from that it also contains unsaturated fatty acids and has an exceptional nutritional value to nourish the skin while moisturizing, softening and revitalizing the skin.