Indigenous to Southern Africa, the marula tree is a tall, deciduous, single stemmed tree with a wide spreading, round crown and characteristic grey mottled bark. Archaeological evidence confirms that it has been a central part of the Southern African way of life for thousands of years. Every part of the tree is utilised for an wide variety of domestic needs.
Marula oil properties
Marula oil is a clear, pale, yellowish-brown colour and has a pleasant nutty aroma. It has been shown to improve skin hydration, skin smoothness and reduce redness (Gruenwald 2006). The main properties of the oil include:
Free radical scavenging properties.
Extraordinary oxidative stability
It is rich in oleic acid which is an essential component in the maintenance of healthy skin. The oil is tremendously stable, is non-greasy so is good for inclusion in anti-acne skincare recipes.
These properties make it very suitable for the following applications:
To treat dry, chapping skin
To maintain hydrated, smooth skin
To reduce skin redness
As a base oil for massage
Improving the appearance of scar tissue.
It is the oil from the marula kernel that has come to give the marula tree its spiritual status in Africa. The kernels are so full of oil that a squeeze with the hand can release a rich yield. This healing oil is used by African women and is massaged on to their face, feet and hands. Across generations it has proven to protect against dry, cracking skin and in fact its moisturising properties are so effective that it is also used to treat leather and in preserving meat.
Hence within the Zulu tribe, the marula tree symbolises women’s fertility, softness and tenderness, and newborn baby girls are welcomed into the world with traditional marula ceremonies.