Ogbono is botanically known as Irvingia gabonensis (Aubry-Lecomte ex O’Rorke) Baill and is highly demanded due to its immense benefits. Ogbono is a specie of African trees that belongs to the genus Irvingia. The high demand for ogbono is due to its high socioeconomic, nutritional and medicinal values. Different parts of the world have different names for Irvingia gabonensis for example, it is known as ugiri or ogbono by the Igbo people, biri, goron, goronor by Hausa people, ogwi by the Benin people, mbukpabuyo by the Ibibio and Efik people, oro, apon or aapon by Yoruba, bobo, manguier or sauvage by French and apioro by the Deltan people. It is equally known as dika, sweet bush mango, odika, iba-tree, chocolatier, African mango, dika nut, duiker nut, manguier sauvage, wild mango, Irvingia and dika bread tree.
According to Ladipo et al., (1996), the Irvingia genus is made up of 7 species comprising of Irvingia wombolu, Irvingia gabonensis, Irvingia giarobur, Irvingia excels, Irvingia malayaria, Irvingia gradifolia and Irvingia smithii. Unlike the pulp of some other Irvingia spp., the pulp of Irvingia gabonensis is edible, sweet and juicy. Irvingia gabonensis is closely related to Irvingia wombolu. While Irvingia wombolu bears inedible and bitter fruits, the Irvingia gabonensis bears edible ones. Irvingia excelsa Mildbr fruit pulp is hard and inedible while Irvingia smithii Hook.f. fresh fruit is sweet and edible.
The ogbono tree measures between 15 to 40 meters with slightly buttressed bole. It bears edible mango-like fruits that are highly valued for their nutritious nuts. Ogbono tree is prevalent in the dry and wet tropical zones such as Nigeria, Angola, Uganda, Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Southeast Asia. It can grow in a farmland, semi-deciduous forest, canopied bush or gallery forests. Although this fruit is also referred to as bush mango, yet it is in no way similar with mango fruit.
Irvingia gabonensis tree is distinguished by its compact crown with branchlets that end in a curved, narrow, stipular sheath. The tree grows upright to approximately 40 metres height and 1-metre diameter. This usually covers the leaf bud. The leaves are elliptic, slightly obovate, dark green in appearance and measures approximately 5 to 15 x 2.5 to 6 cm. Ogbono leaves bear between five to ten pairs of irregular lateral veins that have the lower ones to protrude out closely to the margin.
The slender, bisexual flowers are yellow to greenish-white in colour with some clustered racemes formed above the leaves. Ogbono fruits are greenish when unripe but change to yellow when ripe. The evergreen crown is dense and spherical in shape. The drupe fruit is distinguished by its fibrous flesh and the nut is woody and contains one seed.
Benefits of Ogbono Irvingia gabonensis
Several studies have been carried out to ascertain the medicinal, nutritional and other benefits of Irvingia gabonensis. Anegbeh et al., (2003) agree that the Irvingia fruits are utilised both in modern and traditional medicine for treating several diseases. Some benefits of ogbono include;
Irvingia gabonensis fruit can be eaten as fresh fruit. The sweet pulp can be juiced or used for making smoothie, jelly, jam and wine. The seeds can be pressed for vegetable oil or margarine. The dried ogbono seeds can be ground and used for preparing ogbono soup, stew, Gabon chocolate and dika bread.
Diabetes has remained a challenging health condition that has caused the loss of several lives. Ngondi et al., (2005) agree that ogbono seed is capable of reducing fasting blood glucose levels in obese beings. Furthermore, Sulaimon et al., (2015) study evaluated the antidiabetic properties of Irvingia gabonensis leaf and bark extracts on alloxan induced diabetic rats.
The study showed that the aqueous extracts of leaf and bark of Irvingia gabonensis had more anti-diabetic activity than the ethanolic extracts. However, the researchers recommended further studies to determine the toxicity of Irvingia gabonensis leaf and bark extracts.
Studies on African mango reveals that it suppresses hunger and as such very essential for people that want to minimise their food intake. Reduction of food and caloric intakes help to maintain a healthy weight. Ngondi et al., (2005) evaluated the efficacy of Irvingia gabonensis seeds in the obesity management.
This was carried out as a double-blind randomised study using 40 subjects. 28 subjects received Irvingia gabonensis 1.05 g three times a day for one month while 12 subjects were on placebo and the same schedule. The obese patients given Irvingia gabonensis had a significant decrease in triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol with an increase in HDL-cholesterol. However, the placebo group showed no changes in blood lipid components. This suggests that Irvingia gabonensis seed is suitable for weight management.
Okolo et al., (1995) screened the water and ethanol extracts of the powdered stem bark to ascertain the analgesic effects of this fruit. The results were further compared with standard analgesic drugs. The study suggests that the water extract has analgesic effects similar to a narcotic analgesic.
The ethanol extract might contain compounds that behave similarly like non-narcotic analgesic agents. The results of this study are the first pharmacological basis that supports the traditional use of Irvingia gabonensis as a pain remedy. The bark can be boiled and used for relieving tooth pain
Medicinal Tablets Production
Ogbono contains sticky wax (mucilage) that is useful for making medicinal tablets. The wax acts as a binding agent during tablets production. Studies reveal that tablets manufactured with bush mango have increased brittleness and reduced tensile strength when compared to gelatin tablets.
Regulates Serum Cholesterol Levels
Ngondi et al., (2005) study validates that obese patients given Irvingia gabonensis had a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol with an increase in HDL cholesterol. This suggests that Irvingia gabonensis is suitable for regulating the serum cholesterol levels.
The wood can be used as timber for construction purposes such as paving blocks, railway ties, canoes, ship decking, pestles, mortars, boards and planks.
The bark can be decocted and used for treating dysentery and diarrhoea. The bark can also be combined together with palm oil for treating diarrhoea.
Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
Kuete et al., (2007) support that the methanolic extract of Irvingia gabonensis can be used for treating bacterial and fungal infections.
The fruit pulp can be used for producing black dye for dyeing cloths. Both the roots and barks also contain tannin, which is suitable for dyeing.
Pressed ogbono oil can be used for making cosmetics and soap. The bark can be used for treating scabby skin. The powdered kernels can be applied on the skin as a cosmetic to make the skin less oily.
Livestock Fodder Purposes
The fruits and seeds can serve as fodders fed to farmland livestock such as goat, sheep, cow, cattle etc.
The tree offers shade to other growing crops such as maize, cocoa, yam and coffee.
The trees can be planted for preventing and controlling erosion.
Being a rich source of dietary fibre, ugiri fruit can be eaten to improve bowel functioning and for preventing constipation.
The dietary fibre present in this fruit also aids easy digestion of food thereby preventing bloating .
The powdered kernels can be used as an astringent applied to soothe burns (Irvine, 1961). The powdered kernels astringent can also be applied to the skin to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions.
The stems of the tree can be used as chewing sticks for cleaning teeth.
Nutritional Values of Ogbono (Irvingia gabonensis)
Ogbono fruit is a rich source of potassium, iron, water, energy, protein, carbohydrate, ascorbic acid, sodium, amino acids, dietary fibre, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The seeds contain fatty acids such as stearic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid and lauric acid.
Preliminary phytochemical screening of the aqueous leaf extract of Irvingia gabonensis shows that it contains phlobatanins, saponins, phenols and tannins.