Ziziphus abyssinica is a shrub or small tree species native to savannas and bushlands of central Africa (see distribution map at bottom of this page).
The name Ziziphus is a Latinized version of the Arabic common name for this particular species, “zizouf”. Also linked to a regional context, the epithet abyssinica means “from Abyssinia”, a name once equated with the former Ethiopian Empire.
English common names for this species include large jujube and catch thorn. Although today’s photos don’t show what has been described as “fierce thorns”, Bart has posted an image to the Mozambique Flora page for Ziziphus abyssinica where you can see one in the background.
This species is well-used by the indigenous peoples of the region (PDF). The thorns and ease of cultivation led to using the species as a live hedge or cattle enclosure in some countries. The fruits are edible (though some consider them famine food), while the species is apparently used for a number of medicines, including stomach troubles, venereal diseases, and pulmonary troubles (ref: JSTOR’s Global Plants Database on Ziziphus abyssinica). The wood is also important: timber, charcoal, firewood, poles, and furniture are only some of the uses. The bark can be removed and used to create a cinnamon-coloured dye.