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For the baseball stadium, see Shea Stadium; for other uses, see Shea (disambiguation)

Shea nuts
Conservation status

Vulnerable (IUCN)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ericales
Family: Sapotaceae
Genus: Vitellaria
Species: V. paradoxa
Binomial name
Vitellaria paradoxa

Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa, syn. Butyrospermum parkii, B. paradoxa) is a tree indigenous to Africa, occurring in Mali, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Uganda. The shea fruit consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed from which is extracted shea butter.

A number of steps are required to process the seed and obtain shea butter. First, the outer pulp must be removed. Second, the shea nut is shelled; historically, shelling is done by mortar and pestle or by crushing the shell with stones; however, the Universal Nut Sheller is an appropriate technology that reduces a significant amount of labor involved in shelling shea. Once shelled, the seed is then roasted and either ground down or pressed to extract the oils that make shea butter.

In the West, shea is most often associated with cosmetics. This "butter" has many uses and comes in two forms: Refined and Certified Organic Unrefined. The refined version has been extracted with hexane, a toxic petrochemical and also has been severely overheated, which removes many of the powerful healing factors[citation needed]. The Certified Organic Unrefined version, however, has been traditionally extracted and maintains its healing components to treat and heal various skin conditions.[citation needed] Throughout Africa, it is used extensively for food and medicinal purposes. It is the major dietary lipid source for millions of Africans.

Some common names are shítoulou ("shea tree butter") in the Bambara and Malinke languages of Mali and ghariti in the Wolof language of Senegal. The latter is the origin of the French name of the tree and its butter, karité. The first is the origin of the English word, and is correctly pronounced "shee" to rhyme with another e-a containing word, tea; "shay" means chicken in Bambara and the other Manding languages of West Africa.

The tree is perhaps better known as Butyrospermum parkii (the genus name meaning "butter seed"; the epithet honouring Mungo Park, who learned of the tree while exploring Senegal). However, Vitellaria paradoxa is the earlier name and has priority, and should therefore be used (a proposal to conserve Butyrospermum parkii failed narrowly).

Shea trees take approximately 31 years to reach maturity.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Shea". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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