2 May 2018

Sudan: Sycamore, the Sudan's Fig

The sycamore is a shady, huge, longevous, ever-green tree, about 20 meters high, with many branches and thin, a bit coarse oval leaves smaller in size than those of the fig tree and it bears fruit several times a year five years after it is planted.

Scientifically known as Ficus sycomoru Moraceae, the sycamore bears a yellow-reddish, very sweet fruit that resembles the fig fruit but is smaller in size. And because they are sweet and small, the sycamore fruits are often devoured by the sparrows and Abu Suleiman birds which the Nubians in North Sudan believe are birds of King Solomon. The Nubian women, particularly the old ones, feel optimistic that the singing of Abu Suleiman birds heralds good tidings.

The hard-wood sycamore is an old tree known to mankind ever since ancient times and it is said that its original home is Europe while some people say it originates in Sudan and Egypt. However, the sycamore tree is presently spread in all parts of the world, especially in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United States of America, Britain, Madagascar and the Africa regions known as the African Sahel.

It is found in all parts of the Sudan and its Sudanese name 'Jumaizah' is given to many Sudanese regions and towns, the most famous of which is the Jumaizah town in South Sudan.

The relationship between the sycamore tree and the Nubian kings in Sudan and the Pharaohs in Egypt is regarded as the closest, most famous and most important one throughout the history of the relations between trees and mankind. The sanctity of this tree can be confirmed by the presence of the sycamore dry fruit in the tombs of those ancient kings and pharaohs and writings drawn on the walls of their burial rooms.

The sycamore fruit contains fructose and several vitamins the most important of which is vitamin C in addition to enzymes and zinc mineral.

Renowned ancient Arab physicians prescribed sycamore fruit as a remedy for numerous diseases related to blood, tumors, insect bites, spleen, stomach, chronic cough, kidney, etc.

The modern medicine, for its part, has confirmed that sycamore 'milk', a liquid that can be obtained on breaking any part of the tree, is effective in the treatment of several skin diseases such as vitiligo by using it as an ointment. This liquid contains germ-killing antibiotics and other substances which heal wounds. Slices of a ripe sycamore fruit can also be used as bandages for wounds.

Eating the sycamore fruit or drinking its juice as the first thing to swallow in the morning cures bronchitis and constipation and repels gases. Gum inflammation can be treated by chewing the sycamore fruit for a long time or rinsing with its juice.

The tree large shade provides protection from the sun particularly in the markets and other gathering places.

This valuable tree, despite its numerous benefits, has not yet been accorded the required attention, particularly as its fruit is identical to the fig fruit which the Sudan imports in hard currencies, especially during Ramadan.

Is there any likelihood that the concerned authorities may conduct feasibility studies on utilizing this tree as part of economic plans for exploiting all kinds of the country's resources?

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