The marula tree has figured strongly in African lore for centuries—as aphrodisiac, as medicine, as good luck charm for hopeful parents. A tall, umbrella-shaped tree, which reaches heights of over 50 feet, the marula bears a small fruit, the size of a plum, packed with Vitamin C and delicious lychee-like flavor. It has been eaten by African tribes people for thousands of years, and has also been brewed into beer.

Migrating elephants are drawn to the fermenting fruit too, though tales of drunken animal rampages are more fiction than fact. Most people outside of Africa know the fruit as the key ingredient to Amarula Cream, straight up, on the rocks, or mixed into a cocktail.

Enter the The Amarula Trust, a South African charity organization supporting the indigenous people in South Africa and Kenya who make a living harvesting marula. The trust’s main initiative is to protect the ecological balance of the trees’ native lands by regulating harvest; workers via the trust enjoy the benefit of sponsored daycare centers for their children and educational scholarship opportunities, including training to become a game park ranger. Elephant conservation programs are also at the top of the list. Amarula Cream Liqueur is the largest single purchaser of marula fruit, and the trust’s mission, “Sustaining Communities and Conscious Conservation,” is supported by every bottle purchased.

To learn more about the trust, go to . To order Amarula Cream and for Amarula cocktail recipes, click here.

Published on October 15, 2010