Scientific name
Ziziphus spina-christi1

Local name(s)
Gaba, Kurkura (Amargna)(?), Geba (Tigrigna)

General description
Z. spina-christi is spiny shrub or tree up to 10m in height. On wet sites it is an evergreen but it looses all it leaves during the dry season. The species is long living.  The bark is grey-brown, when cut at the edge it is reddish, matured bark is grooved and cracking. The paired spines are ‘thump pointer’, the straight thorns long and thin. Its branches are intertwined and yellow-white in colour and form an impenetrable thicket. Flowers are small, 10-25 in number besides leaves, yellow-green in colour, stalks and calyx hairy white. Fruits are yellow and ~2cm in diameter (see picture below), when dried the colour turns reddish.

Edible part(s), preparation methods and palatability
Fruits are edible. They are eaten raw. Too much consumption of the fruit creates dryness in the stomach. The fruits are marketed in Wag Hamra and Jana Mora Woredas. In the latter place, the fruits are brought from the Tekeze River lowlands up to Mekane Birhan, the Woreda capital of Jana Mora.

Nutritional value
Fruits of ziziphus species contain an extremely high vitamin C portion: Oranges contain ~ 57mg/100g, whereas ziziphus species contain up to 1000mg/100g (Grosskinsky, 1999: p. 23).

The plant grows in the dry and moist lowlands and is common in wooded grasslands, on flooded riverbanks, and edges of cultivation. The plant prefers alluvial plains with deep soils     (0 - 1,900m).

Propagation method(s)
Propagates by seedlings and cuttings. The species coppices well.

Sample location(s)
(1) Mekane Birhan, Jana Mora Woreda (North Gonder);       (2) Siska, Zequala Woreda (Wag Hamra); (3) Arba Zekuar, Belessa Woreda (North Gonder)

It develops an extremely deep taproot system and can make an impenetrable thicket. The wood makes excellent firewood and charcoal. Leaves are also given to animals as fodder.

1 Parts of the following description have been taken from Bekele-Tesemma et al., 1993: p. 456/457

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Z. spina-christi  tree in Arba Zekuar village, Belessa Woreda, North Gonder, February 2001.

Marketed Z. spina-christi fruits; dried fruits left and fresh fruits on the right picture.