The Nigeria Thorny-Tree Aduwa: Desert Dates!

The Desert Date Tree called “Aduwa” in Hausa is a thorny shrub; a naturally grown tree that tolerates heat, drought, surviving with annual rainfall, so indifferent to the soil type and the trees can withstand grass fires, adapted to the dry hot climatic environment and thrives in the heart of the Sahara of northeast Nigeria. The Aduwa produces fruits even in the dry seasons with the greatest use of the fruit in daily diets and its wood being the most highly prized parts of the tree for the rural dwellers of northern Nigeria. An indigenous and domesticated tree that is commonly seen in ancient households; found in areas undergoing desertification such as villages like Kukawa, and the city of Maiduguri in Borno state, northern Nigeria. The desert dates also known as thorn-tree is a potential source of medicines, pesticides, edible oil, animal feeds, nuts, soaps, and firewood. The desert dates “Aduwa” is a deep-rooted evergreen tree and its thorns can grow up to 8cm long, soft when fresh on the tree but a hardwood that painfully pricks and pierces when it is dried, a reason why it is called the thorny tree because one can hardly get its fruits without stepping on its thorns that have fallen off all around the tree serving as a painful fence and protection for the Aduwa tree. The fruit is an oval-shaped drupe, found in a cluster on a short thick stalk, the ripe fruit is brown or pale brown with other fruits type having a yellow color that looks like a small date with a brittle coating that is prickly enclosing a brown or brown-green sticky pulp and a hard stone seed. The Desert Date fruit is pulpy with a thin and hard epicarp, a dark brown mesocarp, and a hard endocarp enclosing an oilseed; the fleshy pulp of both unripe and ripe fruit pulp is edible, can be eaten dried or fresh by sucking on its pulpy nectar with a bitter-sweet taste and the fruit is generally enjoyed by school children as a confectionary in the northeast of Nigeria. The fruits are processed into a syrup an alternative to honey and sugar that is often used in sweetmeat recipes; juice drinks for refreshment and the fermented fruits are used by local brewers for alcoholic beverages. The young fresh tender leaves are added to other vegetables of choice for soups, its’ flowers are used for flavorings in industrial products, whereby the nutshells are used for industrial activated charcoal; due to the singular fact that the Aduwa wood produces high-quality charcoal. The kernels seed produce edible oil used for cooking, it is a stable oil that is used in various products such as body and hair cream.

The marketing of the Aduwa fruits has always been of socio-economic value for village dwellers in northern Nigeria and most especially the rural women and their kids; to be seen sold in sack bags in market places being display on raffia mats, large bowls, hawk by food vendors on wheelbarrows moving all around the street corners in north-east Nigeria. The desert dates’ importance is two-fold for the village dwellers; its fruit is edible which is consumed as a staple snack by local villagers providing food nourishments and income.

Desert Dates Syrup:- Recipe Ingredients: Desert dates pulp, water, and airtight jar for storage.
This is prepared by heating up the desert date pulp with some water until melted and thickens to obtain a desert date syrup which is a dark brown liquid with a molasses-like consistency that is an excellent substitute to honey; use as an alternative for sweeteners and a nourishing healthy choice to be added in daily diet for those who require vegan ingredients for their recipes and lifestyle.

Desert Date Gruel Is Kunun Aduwa In Hausa:- A bitter-sweet fruit with loads of nutrients, a healthy “kunun aduwa” is so easy to prepare. Begin by simply peeling the brown shells off, place them in a bowl with lots of water to soak. After several hours the sticky flesh falls off and separates from the hard kernel seed. Mix thoroughly, sieve, and keep in the refrigerator for use in so many recipes. Herbal remedy for a lot of stomach problems, giving instant relief for constipation and dysentery, use as a laxative for stomach aches.
Recipe Ingredients:-
Dried Aduwa.
Millet grains.
Spices of ginger, cloves, chili pepper.
Lemon juice or Tamarind is known as Tsamiya in Hausa.

Recipe Steps:-
The millet porridge is prepared by washing the millet and drying it, spices and dried Aduwa are added to it then milled into a smooth spicy millet flour but others prefer to blend using water into a smooth consistency.
Sieve and mix with water into a custard-like paste, pour in hot boiling water, and stir immediately to thicken.
Sweeten with honey or any sweetener of choice and to reduce the slightly bitter taste of Aduwa add in lemon juice or the juice of soaked tamarind. Mix in well and serve hot or cold.

Desert Dates Cheese In Hausa Aduwa Awara (Cheese Making):-
The rural cow herders in northern Nigeria use the pulp of the desert dates fruits as rennet; a milk curdling agent. A fresh homemade cheese called “awara” in Hausa and “wara” in Yoruba is prepared using the pulp of Aduwa after soaking the fruits in water to separate the pulp from the seeds and to gently introduce into a steaming hot fresh milk, boiling on low heat; resulting into a final product of fresh soft cheese. A good substitute for vinegar, and lemon juice in homemade cheese making.

Desert Dates Juice Aduwa In Hausa:- A spicy Aduwa Drink, is prepared by first boiling the pulp of the fruit on low heat, add ginger cloves, or both to improve the flavor. 
Recipe ingredients:-
Aduwa Fruits.
Ginger, lemon, and any sweetener of choice.

Recipe steps:-
Peel and remove the light brown shell to expose the sticky golden color of the flesh.
Soak in cool water overnight or soak in lukewarm water for several hours for the fruit pulp to separate from the seeds which is a better alternative to boiling the fruits. But if prefer for fast preparation, simply boil on low heat to soften and separate the pulp from the seeds. Strain after removing from heat, add lemon juice and any sweetener of choice. Then serve as a sweet refreshing drink; a healthy and bitter-sweet remedy for all guts problems.

Desert Dates-Aduwa Oil Extraction:- The Aduwa seed kernel is rich in oil, protein, minerals, and edible as snacks after boiling. The organic desert oil is vegan and cruelty-free possesses anti-viral, anti-bacterial activities, full of beneficial nutrients such as vitamin E, very rich in antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids, it is a fast-absorbing oil loaded with nutrients to improve overall healthy wellbeing, an excellent oil for skin and hair care, use also in sweet perfumes. The desert date oil is non-greasy and soaks well into the skin giving a beautifully glowing smooth sheen; also helps to reduce wrinkles and regenerates healthy skin.

Desert Date Oil Is Mai Aduwa In Hausa:- The desert date oil extraction is mostly cold-pressed and filtered through cheesecloth to retain all its qualities. The oil is golden brown in color with a sweet rich nutty taste and is an edible vegetable oil that is also suitable for soaps, perfumes, hair butter.
Recipe Ingredients:- Aduwa seeds, Cheese bag.

Recipe steps:- The kernels are shelled to remove the oilseeds; shell the fruits and soak to separate the pulp from the nuts. Crack open and remove the seeds. Wash all the seeds, air dry them and crush the seeds with a metal hammer. Dry in the sun the crushed nuts. Pound using a mortar and pestle into powder or by milling into a paste to increase the extraction of the oil; Cold-pressed using a cheese bag to extract the oil. Another method of oil extraction is by either dry roasting to remove oil or put to boil with water on low heat to extract the oil floating on the top of boiling crushed seeds. After extraction, the oil is store in a cool dry place and the result is the crude oil of the Aduwa, but it can be further refined and filter to produce other products. 
The best method is to cold-pressed and filter through cheese bags to help retain all its organic potency; high in fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, thiamine, and vitamin E. The seed oil also turns to butter after whisking or whipping it to form a smooth golden creamy butter.

The desert date has a long history of traditional uses in northern Nigeria for the remedy and treatments of a lot of diseases; Aduwa possesses antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, diuretic, wound healing, antiviral, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic, Desert Date bark, fruits, seeds, seed oil, and leaves are widely used in folk medicine for generations. A lot of facts are available that reveal the importance of the Aduwa tree to humans and animals; the use of the seeds oil and the tree as a whole have amazing benefits. The Aduwa seed oil with its potential is believed to aids in anticancer activity against lungs, liver, and human brain carcinoma cell lines with its anti-mutagenic activity. The health benefits of the Aduwa fruits are many, traditionally used in the treatment of various ailments, like jaundice, intestinal worms infection, wounds, malaria, syphilis, epilepsy, and to treat stomach aches such as dysentery, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoid, asthmas, and fever. The root contains protein, lipid, carbohydrates, alkaloids, and organic acids used in food preparations and herbal medicines. The fresh leaf of the Aduwa plants is pounded with a small amount of root and then soaked in water for two hours, decanted, and administered intra-nasal and orally for epilepsy. The small branches are used for oral hygiene as a toothbrush; the seeds oil is used to treat tumors and wounds. The desert date fruit is mixed into porridge and eaten by nursing mothers for nourishments, and the oil is consumed for headaches and also to improve lactation. Aduwa medicinal plants are effective in controlling plasma glucose levels with minimal side effects, very effective as an alternative treatment of type 1 diabetes. Adverse effects:- The fruits are purgative in larger quantities, always seek advice from a doctor before using plants as medicine.

Sustainability Of The Desert Dates:- In Nigeria, Aduwa is a valuable economical tree absolutely important for rural inhabitants. The Aduwa fruit tree plays a vital role in food security and the economy of the rural population in Nigeria, a form of livelihood for families with the use of its fruits and leaves for human and animal foods; branches for fencing materials, firewood, and charcoal making, timber for furniture and constructing huts, aids in controlling soil erosion and desert encroachments. The edible fruits are rich in saturated fatty acids which are used as cooking oil and the fruits contain steroids used in the production of contraceptive pills. There is an urgent need for the sustainability and protection of the Desert Date tree as a valuable asset in arid regions of northeast Nigeria, from animals, humans, and deforestation which is a growing threat by the day. An important multi-purpose tree species for the desert land of northern Nigeria; the excessive use of the tree for fruit production and for other uses combined with the scarcity of natural regeneration leads to a drastic depletion of the Desert Date species. 

Desert date oil can be used in the production of biodiesel which is biodegradable, less pollutant emitting, non-toxic, more environmentally friendly fuel; a great alternative to Nigeria petroleum-based products. Biodiesel is renewable energy that is considered to be amongst the best solution to combating global warming and stabilizing climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Desert Date Tree is vital for sustainable development and the provision of income, quality jobs for men and women in the communities and households where the trees are found. 
The Aduwa, with its priceless gifts, proven health benefits, and bitter-sweet taste will please and leave anyone with a smile; dare the desert date thorns and be blessed!