Sea lemon

Category: Medicines - plant based



Introduction and description


Ximenia americana, commonly known as tallow wood, yellow plum or sea lemon, is a small sprawling tree of woodlands native to the tropics.


Leaves are oval shaped, bright green and have a strong smell of almonds. Flowers are pale in colour. Fruits are lemon-yellow or orange-red.

The fruits have a pleasant plum-like flavour. 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.

Medicinal uses

Ximenia americana is being investigated by researchers from Nigeria's Ahmadu Bello University. In animal tests, it is showing promise against the parasite that causes sleeping sickness and severe anaemia in livestock in many parts of Africa.

Leaf extract is active against Escherischia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans. Tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins, anthraquinones, starch, general glycosides and bitter principles can be found in the extract.  Indigenous people of Florida used the bark to treat sore muscles and gums.

The root also contains the fatty acids tariric acid and 10Z,14E,16E-octadeca-10,14,16-triene-12-ynoic acid.

Dr Duke has not done an analysis of this plant, but we have observations that show the research being done.

Related observations