The Journey to Names and Provenance – Umilo & Gbafilo

From market to web page, it seems – despite their size and appearance differences – that umilo and gbafilo might be related, after all. Proof that sameness is beyond appearance.

In my search for the botanical name for umilo, I happened upon an article referring to umilo by Parinari excelsa, the botanical name which I ‘knew’ was gbafilo. ‘Knew’ because what do we really know? And how do we prove that the sources which inform our knowledge are true and tested? 


I am a strong believer in research and validation. Combining look, word, feel, taste and whatever metric is available in arriving at a reasonable conclusion. Lately, I’ve learned the importance of opening up my test pool to other people who might or not be familiar with the subject. Because fresh perspectives, without the burden of knowledge or mind mold might lead to greater discoveries.

On this journey to finding out what and where from,I might not have all the answers but here’s what I know:

Umilo and Gbafilo are related though it isn’t apparent in their looks. Their shells are different but they have the similar fragrances, and their kernels are the same – paper shell with a hollow nut, as well as purple-brown hues. Their textures are similar too – chewy crunchy.


They appear to be in the plum family. From names of Parinari excelsa, Guinea plum and the like. 

They are spices/ aromatics but nutmegs or walnuts? However, in the market – sellers referred to both as types of nutmegs; while my food expert friends spoke about it being very walnut-like.


In the end, not knowing the names doesn’t change what they are…but I’d really like to know :), so if you have any advice on how to go about this exploration, please share. In the interim, we find other discoveries to celebrate. Like Liquorice root.


Wait for it. Soon X


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