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The Laloab (the Desert Dates)

The Laloab (the Desert Dates)

 KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Its scientific name is balanites aegyptiaca, a wild plant and is wide-spread. The National Forest Inventory (1998) estimated more than 93 million of these trees in Sudan.

The laloab tree, known locally in Sudan as hijleej, is thorny, ever-green, 7-meter high with white, cracked bark, the leaves alternate, palm-shaped, 2-3 cm long and 1-2.5 cm wide, with one seed.

The fruit contains static oil, protein, sugar, vitamins and minerals.

Study conducted by A.A. Elfeel and E.I. Warrag in 2011 identified many uses of the tree, most of it is non-wood uses. “These include medicine for treatment of stomach pains, diabetics, healing of wounds, jaundice, human and animal food, oil, nuts. Also the tree used for shade during dry season, praying beads (seibha), Quran tablets (looh), hand tools, saddles, and native mortars.”

Debittered kernel is used as snacks or mixed with honey and used to increase the male sexual drive.

The National Centre for Research said the bark of the laloab tree contains soapy substances and is used for curing gonorrhea, rheumatism and arthritis besides constipation, dysentery, bilharzia, tapeworm and giardia, tumors and wounds and is also used for washing clothes.  

The fruits of those trees are favorite to children and therefore the pupils in the rural areas run after school to nearby laloab or nebug trees to collect the fruits and in the towns, traders wait outside the schools to sell to the pupils those fruits as a whole fruit or in the form of cakes and powder.

The laloab, nebug and other ever-green trees helped people survive during the drought which hit many parts of Sudan in the 1980s and therefore the fruits of such trees were called the famine food.

A study (1983) said commercial products can be extracted from fruits that can generate annually more than US$ 80 million for the country.

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