Prosopis cineraria (L.) Druce
Syn.: Prosopis spicigera L.
Ghaf (Arabic), Jand (Punjab), Jandi (Pakistan), Shum (India)
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
According to Burkart (1976) Prosopis cineraria is not used commercially.
During India's Rajputana famine (186869), many lives were spared, using the
sweetish bark as a food. It was ground into flour and made into cakes. Wood
used for boat frames, houses, posts, and tool handles; the poor form of
unimproved trees limits use as timber. Containing 31% soluble potassium salts,
the wood ash may serve as a potash source. Pods and lopping provide valuable
fodder during the dry season. According to the NAS (1980a), it "does not
compete for moisture with crop plants, which may be grown close to its trunk."
Pakistanis and Indians believe, quite properly, that it increases fertility
under its canopy. Bark and leaf galls used for tanning. The gum exuding from
the trunk is suggestive of gum arabic.
Reported to be astringent, demulcent, and pectoral, ghaf is a folk remedy for
various ailments. In India, the flowers are mixed with sugar and administered
to prevent miscarriage. In Las Bela, India, the ashes are rubbed over the skin
to remove hair (perhaps Leucaena ashes should be tried as well). The
bark, considered anthelmintic, refrigerant, and tonic, is used for asthma,
bronchitis, dysentery, leucoderma, leprosy, muscle tremors, piles, and
wandering of the mind. Smoke from the leaves is suggested for eye troubles,
but the fruit is said to be indigestible, inducing biliousness, and destroying
nails and hair. Punjabis consider the pod astringent. Central Province
Indians use bark for rheumatism. Although recommended for scorpion sting and
snakebite, the plant has not proved out (Kirtikar and Basu, 1975).
The heartwood, contains sugars, five flavonones, fatty acids, and tannins
(Burkart, 1976). Fresh leaves (ZMB) contain 15.3% CP, 17.5% CF, 10.0% ash,
3.2% EE, 54.0% NFE, 2.65% Ca, and 0.24% P (Gohl, 1981). Wealth of India
reports that leaves contain 2.9% N, 0.4% P2O5, 1.4% K2O, and 2.8% CaO. The
flavone glycoside patulitrin has been isolated from the flowers (C.S.I.R.,
19481976). A novel variant on the piperidine-3-ol alkaloid recently reported
is spicigerine (Jewers et al., 1976).
Tree to 6.5 m high; cortex cinereous; prickles internodal, scattered, straight,
somewhat acroscopic, conical with broad bases. Taproot to more than 3 m long.
Leaves 13-jugate, glabrous or puberulous; petiole and rachis 0.54 cm long,
the pinnae 27 cm long; leaflets 714-jugate, ovate, straight to subfalcate,
without nerves (or 24-nerved at base, the midrib excentric), mucronate, 415
mm long x 24.5 mm broad, grayish when dry; stipules foliaceous, deciduous.
Racemes spiciform, 513 cm long, several together, subpaniculate; peduncle with
amplexicaul bract (or 2 bracts united), this caducous and leaving an oblique
scar, 1.52 mm long; bractlets ovate, sessile, 0.50.8 mm long, caducous;
pedicels 0.5 mm, to 1.5 mm long when mature; flowers yellow, glabrous; calyx
truncate, 0.81.2 mm long; corolla 3.5 mm long, glabrous, the petals rolled
back in age; anthers 0.81 mm long; pistil glabrous. Fruit slender, elongate,
819 cm long (including the stipe 0.82 cm), subcylindric-torulose, 47 mm in
diameter, glabrous; pericarp thin, brittle; endocarp segments thin,
longitudinal, little developed; seeds distant, longitudinal, ovate, 6 mm long,
the tegument with open horse-shoe fissural line on faces (Burkart, 1976), 1015
in a pod, brown (C.S.I.R., 19481976).
Reported from the Hindustani Center of Diversity, ghaf, or cvs thereof, is
reported to tolerate alkalinity, drought, grazing, heat, high pH, poor soil,
sand, and salt. Young seedlings are sensitive to frost (C.S.I.R., 19481976).
In dry and arid regions of northwestern India in Punjab, West Rajasthan,
Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, in dry parts of central and southern India, extending
into Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Arabia. Usually at low elevations.
Introduced in Abu Dhabi, where plantings totaling 2,000 ha have been made on
flat, silty, gravelly plains and in shifting sand dunes (NAS, 1980a).
Withstands slight frost (-6°C minimum) and high temperatures (4050°C
maximum shade). Sometimes gregarious but scattered in open dry forest. Seems
to require light. Our computer entries for Prosopis spp. are
unreliable, partly due to past taxonomic confusions. I estimate this species
to range from Tropical Thorn to Moist through Subtropical Thorn to Moist Forest
Life Zones. I estimate it tolerates annual precipitation of 1 to 20 dm and pH
of 6.59.8. The chief Indian tree species in the Punjab, where rainfall is
less than 750 mm.
Reproduces freely by root suckers and establishes well from seed, which remain
viable for decades. Seeds, which should be soaked for 24 hours, may be
processed and planted like P. alba. They retain their viability for at
least one year. An initial spacing of 2 x 2 m is recommended. Should be
weeded until well established.
Tree coppices readily.
Standing crops yield 770 m3 fuel/ha, averaging 21 m3
stacked. Annual yields of stacked firewood approach 3 m3/ha. The
heartwood is very hard and heavy (769945 kg cu m).
In the Punjab, its rather scanty, purplish brown heartwood is preferred to
other kinds for firewood (Burkart, 1976). It is an excellent fuel, also giving
high-quality charcoal (5,000 kcal/kg). According to the Wealth of India, the
calorific value of the sapwood is 5,003 kcal (9007 BTU) (C.S.I.R., 19481976).
NAS (1980a) reports that "one fungus and five insect species are known to
attack the tree." Species of Chrysobothris and Sinoxylon bore into the dead
wood, causing wood rot. Felker et al. (1981) review the pest infestations of
their Prosopis plantings with suggestions for their control. Browne
(1968) lists the following: AngiospermaeCuscuta reflexs; ColeopteraCaryedon gonagra, celosterna scabrator; HemiptraDrosicha
stebbingi, Laccifer lacca, Oxyrhachia tarandus, Perisopneumon tamarinda;
and Orthoptera Schistocerca gregaria.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Browne, F.G. 1968. Pests and diseases of forest plantations trees. Clarendon
- Burkart, A. 1976. A monograph of the genus Prosopis (Leguminosae subfam.
Mimosoideae). J. Arn. Arb. 57(3/4):219249; 450525.
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Felker, P., Cannell, G.H., Clark, P.R., Osborn, J.F., and Nash, P. 1981.
Screening Prosopis (mesquite) species for biofuel production on semiarid
lands. Final Report to US DOE. NTIS. Springfield, VA.
- Gohl, B. 1981. Tropical feeds. Feed information summaries and nutritive values.
FAO Animal Production and Health Series 12. FAO, Rome.
- Jewers, K., Nagler, M.J., Nirvi, K.A., and Amir, F. 1976. Lipids, sterols, and
a piperidine alkaloid from Prosopis spicigera leaves. Phytochemistry
- Kirtikar, K.R. and Basu, B.D. 1975. Indian medicinal plants. 4 vols. 2nd ed.
Jayyed Press, New Delhi.
- N.A.S. 1980a. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production.
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
Last update January 8, 1998 by aw