Definition of shea in US English:


(also shea tree)


  • A small tropical African tree which bears oily nuts from which shea butter is obtained.

    Vitellaria paradoxa (or Butyrospermum parkii), family Sapotaceae

    • ‘The tradition is passed on from medicine women and the male herbal doctors: at birth, babies are covered by the midwife in shea butter, made from the nuts of the shea tree.’
    • ‘Shea butter, which is extracted from shea tree nuts found in West Africa, is said to be ‘one of the best all-natural beauty products that nature offers.’’


Late 18th century: from Mande sye.