THE ABA OR ODIKAby@scientificamerican


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Among the many luxuriant and magnificent forest trees of equatorial West Africa, none can surpass, for general beauty and symmetry, that which is called by the natives the "aba." When growing alone and undisturbed, its conical outline and dark green foliage remind one very much of the white maples of the northern United States, by a distant view, but, on a nearer approach, a dissimilarity is observed. Wherever, in ravines or near the banks of rivers, the soil is moist the most part of the year, there the aba chooses to grow, and during the months of June and July the falling fruits permeate the atmosphere with a delicious fragrance not similar to any other. This, in form, size, and general appearance, is very much like mango apples, so that the natives call mangoes the "white man's aba;" but the wild aba is not much eaten as a fruit, one or two being sufficient for the whole season. The kernel, or seed, is the important and useful part. When the fallen fruit covers the ground, much as apples do in America, the natives go in canoes to gather it, and the number harvested will be in proportion to the industry of the women. The aba plum is about the size of a goose's egg, of a flattened, ovoid shape, and, when ripe, a beautiful golden color. It consists of three distinct parts: the rind, the pulp, and the seed. The pulp consists of a mass extensively interwoven with strong filaments, which apparently grow out of the seed and are with great difficulty separated from it. The seed, reniform in shape, is bivalved, and constitutes about two-thirds of the bulk of the entire plum, and the inner kernel two-thirds the bulk of the seed. In consequence of it being such a high tree and growing in such inconvenient places, I have been unable to procure a specimen of the flowers.
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