Garcinia livingstonei L.

African mangosteen

Common names
English (African mangosteen, imbe, wild plum, wild mangosteen, Lowveld mangosteen); Swahili (mutumbi, mpekechu); Afrikaans (Afrikageelmelkhout)
African mangosteen
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Tree info

Dimensions in meters Garcinia livingstonei L. is a variable species, ranging from an evergreen shrub 1–3 metres (m) high to a tree with a heavy, conical crown that is usually 6–12 m tall. In ideal conditions, the trees can reach a height of 21 m.
Maturity of tree before yields 4–6 years
Productivity lifetime
Seasonality Depending on its geographical region, African mangosteen is usually harvested in the spring or summer. In South Africa, this fruiting period occurs between November–February. Ripening typically happens over a two-week period and then is finished for the year.
Production zones and cultivation methods The plants have separate sexes, meaning both male and female trees are required for good fruit production. They grow naturally in dry to moderately humid subtropical and tropical lowland areas. These areas are generally mid-elevation climates, frost-free and with annual lows of 15–25°C. The dry season usually lasts between 3–8 months for optimal productivity.


Per 100 g edible portion (EP)

The fruit pulp is a good source of carbohydrates, iron and zinc.
Energy (kcal) 63 kcal
% Daily Value (DV) *
Macronutrients Protein: 0.8 g 2 %
Fats: 0.3 g 0.4 %
Carbohydrates: 13.9 g 5 %
Key Minerals Potassium: 134 mg 3 %
Magnesium: 12 mg 3 %
Iron: 0.3 mg  2 %
Zinc: 0.19 mg  2 %
Key Vitamins Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C): 5 mg  6 %
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.05 mg   4 %
Niacin (Vitamin B3): 0.4 mg   3 %
*All Daily Recommended Values are calculated using the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s recommendation guide.


Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Additionally, it has been cultivated successfully in Florida, USA, Cuba and parts of Southeast Asia.


African mangosteen fruit tastes similar to apricots and can be eaten raw, cooked with porridge, seeded and dried, or crushed like grapes to create a drink. The seeds can be pressed to yield an edible oil, and the fruit is fermented to make a purplish wine or soaked in alcohol and mixed with syrup to make a liqueur.

Although quite popular for its taste, the fruit’s thin skin and delicate pulp make it difficult to transport and commercialize. Making secondary products like jams, liqueurs and ice creams could be one way for rural communities to generate income from the fruit. It is most often harvested from the wild, but it has also been successfully cultivated in Cuba, Florida, Mozambique and parts of southeast Asia.

G. livingstonei is a hardwood tree, commonly used to build fence posts, tool handles and wooden spoons. The timber is also popular for firewood and charcoal production. In addition, the yellowish tree sap is poisonous and has been used by indigenous communities to tip their hunting arrows.

African mangosteen is a good candidate for intercropping with other species in agroforestry systems: it is drought tolerant, provides ample shade for young crops and the bulbous root base helps prevent soil erosion. In addition, the species is attractive to insects and birds, which makes it useful to restore ecosystems and degraded landscapes. Its beautiful leaves and crown make it a popular ornamental plant.

Several parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine, including the root, which is ground into a powder and used as an aphrodisiac and to treat abdominal pain during pregnancy and postpartum. The extracts from its flowers and leaves also have antibiotic properties.

Scientific references

  • Joseph, K. S., Bolla, S., Joshi, K., Bhat, M., Naik, K., Patil, S., Bendre, S., Gangappa, B., Haibatti, V., Payamalle, S., Shinde, S., Dewir, Y. H., & Murthy, H. N. (2016). Determination of Chemical Composition and Nutritive Value with Fatty Acid Compositions of African Mangosteen (Garcinia Livingstonei). Erwerbs-Obstbau, 59(3), 195–202.

  • Kaikabo, A. A., & Eloff, J. N. (2011). Antibacterial activity of two biflavonoids from Garcinia livingstonei leaves against Mycobacterium smegmatis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 138(1), 253–255.

  • Lim, T. K. (2012). Garcinia livingstonei. In Edible Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Plants (pp. 66–70). Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg.

  • Nkosi, N. N., Mostert, T. H. C., Dzikiti, S., & Ntuli, N. R. (2020). Prioritization of indigenous fruit tree species with domestication and commercialization potential in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 67(6), 1567–1575.


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