Family: Sapotaceae (Chicle, Gutta-Percha and Sapodilla)
Genus: Butyrospermum or Vitellaria
Species: Butyrospermum parkii or Vitellaria paradoxa
I read an case study called: " Research by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) into the cultivation and processing of shea nuts as an alternative to cocoa products." along with some other interesting articles on the web an found out some things I didn't know about shea.
The Shea Tree is a wild tree, which are pollinated by bats and grows very slowly. It grows from 25 to 75 feet tall and bears fruit (seed) that contains four times more Vitamin C than an orange, but doesn't bear its fruit until it is between 15-30 years old.
1. Despite the increased use of shea butter in cosmetics, statistics show that the shea butter from more then 90% of all marketed shea nuts is used to replace cocoa butter in the chocolate industry.
2. People have been cooking with shea for years and is the main edible oil for the people of northern Ghana, being the most important source of fatty acids and glycerol in their diet.
3. The healing properties of shea butter are believed to be partly attributable to the presence of allantoin, a substance known to stimulate the growth of healthy tissue in ulcerous wounds.
If you'd like to learn more about the process of production of shea or the women of Africa and their role in shea nut production check some of these sites: