Hog Plum

20 Jul

Hog Plum, Tallowwood
Ximenia americana

How many Florida native species are worldwide?  Few, and Hog-Plum is one, occurring in sandy windblown places, often more or less near the sea, from Florida to Australia.  The fruits float, apparently over long times and over long distances, and birds probably help get them around.  The name “Hog Plum” is confusing because a plant better known under that name is Spondias mombin, which has a similar orange drupe.  In parts of its range Ximenia americana is important in the kitchen and in the pharmacy.  For instance, in Cameroon it is cultivated for raw fruits, for fermented drinks, and for its combustible oil.  The seeds contain cyanide, limiting the culinary value of the oil, which nonetheless seems to have cooking applications, as well as uses in personal grooming.  Reported medicinal uses for products from this thorny shrubby species are numerous, including treatment of scars, worms, leprosy, and sexual problems, hopefully not simultaneously.  Ximenia caffra is a related African species likewise grown for its edible fruits and for the abundant oil in its seeds.

Hogplum fruits

A second oddity of Hog Plum is that, like several other scrub species, it is a partial parasite, ripping off the roots of neighboring plants.  Additional scrubbish species of similar inclinations in our area include Black-Senna (Seymeria pectinata), Love Vine (Cassytha filiformis), and Graytwig (Schoepfia schreberi aka S. chrysophylloides).  Parasitism is an apparent adaptation to life in nutrient-poor sands.

Hogplum flowers in July

The flowers are oddly bearded on the inner surface, probably to exclude unwelcome nectar thieves while allowing “proper” bee pollinators, and/or the hairs may be tactile nectar guides to visiting bees.  Honeybees are reported to be effective pollinators, although some very limited fruit-set occurs even with pollinator exclusion. [This post is a collaborative effort by John Bradford, Billy Cunningham, and George Rogers]


Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Hog Plum


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6 responses to “Hog Plum

  1. Jackie Henkel

    February 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Every Wednesday while walking through Jonathan Dickinson, I curse Hog Plum repeatedly. Although, I am getting much better at recognizing and avoiding it, but it still has a tendency to sneak up on you! After reading this, I hate Hog Plum significantly less. I had no idea of its medicinal uses (but I bet the treatment of scars it provides is actually treating scars that is caused) and cooking uses. Nonetheless, it is obvious that Hog Plum is parasitic as it seems to dominate over all the other scrub.

  2. George Rogers

    February 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Don’t be a hater. And keep firmly in mind there is a world of difference between historic/reputed uses and actual proven modern medicinal benefits. As FL things that bite, sting, slice, and poke you go, I can think of worse offenders.

  3. francisca nutsu

    June 22, 2014 at 10:34 am

    am trying to produce hog plum drink in Ghana but no enough literature . this will be helpful, i love the fruit paaaaaaaaaaa

    • George Rogers

      June 22, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Yuo might be dealing with a different species under the name Hogplum. Perhaps a Spondias.

  4. Jonathan cortez

    August 21, 2016 at 1:48 am

    Hey george do you happen to know where I can get the “spondias mombin” or the “hog plum” in florida? I am located near Vero Beach and I would love to have a plant of my own, I am Native to Mexico from the state of Veracruz & those trees are abundance in the area but here in florida ive never seen one

    • George Rogers

      August 21, 2016 at 8:56 am

      There are not many around…don’t know how it’ll do in Vero. If anyone has it locally, and knows if it would grow in Vero, it would be Excalibur Fruit Farm in Loxahatchee.


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