Balanites aegyptiaca1, pallida (variety) (Sands), glabra (Mildbr. & Schlecht.), rotundifolia (van Tieghem, Blatter)
Hankalta (Konsogna), Baddanno (Oromiffaa), Badana, Guasa (Amargna), Kullan (Somali)
It is a small evergreen woody tree (10 m) with snarled mass of barbed branches. It is a slow-growing tree with a capacity of coppicing. The tree is an important species for dry areas. Thorns are up to 8cm, soft at first, then woody. The leaves are distinctive pairs of grey-green colour and ovate shape. Flowers are fragrant yellow-green clusters. Fruits are oblong to 5cm with both ends round, yellow when ripe with a hard pointed seed inside.
Edible part(s), preparation methods and palatability
Fruits and young shoots are edible. Ripe fruits are picked for their bitter-sweet fruit flesh. But the hard skin has to be pealed before consuming the inner part (see picture). B. aegyptiaca is a typical representative of the 2. 'wild-food' plant category. Its fruits are eaten any time when ripe by children and in food shortage periods also by adults. Fresh new shoots, which are always growing during the dry season, are commonly used as animal forage. But in periods of food shortage people cut the newly growing succulent shoots with the leaves and cook and eat them like cabbage.
The fruit is rich in vitamin A (~100mg/100gr). Concerning carbohydrates, the kernel of B. aegyptiaca has a calorific range of 514kcal/100gr to 567kcal/100gr. The pulp of the fruits contains on average 10.9% moisture, 2.7% ash, 1.4% protein, 0.29% oil, 36% sugars, 18% alcohol-insoluble solids, 93mg/100mg calcium, 15mg/100mg iron, 57mg/100mg phosphorus.
The species is common in dry and moist lowlands in the Rift Valley, Gamo-Gofa, Konso and Darashe and Burji Special Woredas, Sidamo, Shewa, Gojam and in the Hararghe midlands (700 - 1,800m).
Propagates by seeds, seedlings, direct sowing and root suckers.
Sample location (s)
(1) Kindo-Koyisha (North Omo), (2) Gamo-Gofa (South Omo), (3) Humbo (North Omo), (4) Damot-Weyede (North Omo), (5) Konso Special Woreda, (6) Belessa (North Gonder)
The tree is tolerant to termites and good for construction purpose. Potentially the extracts of the fruit and bark could be used against guinea worm and the snails harboring bilharzias. The tree is also used for fuel wood, charcoal, poles and timber production.
1 Parts of the following description have been taken from Bekele-Tesemma et al., 1993: p. 102/103, Hedberg I, Edwards S (eds), 1989: p.433-436 and Maundu et al., 1999: p. 69
Back to top