The Marula is a medium to large tree, usually 9 meters (25 feet) tall. It is single-stemmed with a dense, spreading crown and deciduous foliage. Fascinatingly enough, only the female trees bears fruits, while the male tree displays flower.
Marula wood has been traditionally used for carving pestles and mortars, bowls, drums, beehives and stools and even canoes in some areas. During colonial times it was even used for tomato boxes and toilet seats.
Regarded as a sacred tree in Africa, the Marula is protected in communal lands under the local chief. Because of its leafy foliage and shade-bearing size, it is popular with villages for local meetings, and often in a ploughed field will be the only tree left standing. The Marula tree is often the spiritual centre for ritual activity in kraals and villages.
The bark of the tree has medicinal properties and is used widely in treating dysentery and diarrhea, rheumatism, insect bites and a variety of other ailments. Essence from the leaves is said to provide a remedy for abscesses, spider bites and burns. Preliminary tests show weak pharmalogical activity relative to hypertension, anti-inflammation and painkilling.