Balanites aegyptiaca

Family Name: Balanitaceae

 Life Form: A perennial shrub    

 Habitat: Found on varied soils, it prefers valley soils but will grow in sand, sandy loams, clays, cracking clay, black cotton, alluvial, gravelly, and stony soils (RSCU 1992). B. aegyptiaca is known to tolerate heavy clay soils (Teel 1984).

Description: A small tree or a shrub with drooping branches which is armed with green thorns, up to l0 m high. Crown rounded, dense with long stout branchlets. Leaves compound and spirally arranged on the shoots, dark green with 2 leaflets with entire margin. Inflorescence a sessile or shortly pedunculate fascicle of a few flowers. Flower buds ovoid and tomentose. Fruit ellipsoid, up to 4 cm long, green.

Propagation: Seedlings, cuttings, potted stock and root suckers.

Usage: Root cuttings readily form a live fence. Protein rich leaves and shoots are an excellent source of fodder. The leaves make very good mulch and the tree is nitrogen fixing, it is also valued as firewood since it produces almost no smoke and has a calorific value of 4600 kcal per kg (Webb 1984).

Distribution: Found in most arid, semiarid to subhumid tropical savannahs, and hot dry areas, along watercourses and in woodlands. It borders seasonally inundated black clay plains and grows well in valleys and on river banks in depressions, and on the slopes of rocky hills. B. aegyptiaca is found in Mikumi, Selous, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire National Parks and Reserves (Rulangaranga 1989).





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