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Prosopis africana - (Guill. & Perr.) Taub.

Common Name Pau Carvão. Mesquite. Iron tree
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The pounded dry fruits are suitable as a fish poison[418 ].
Habitats Frequently on fallow land, on sandy clayey soils over laterite[418 ]. Savannah land, especially in mesophytic woodland[491 ].
Range Tropical Africa - Senegal to Chad, Sudan and Uganda. Also in Saudi Arabia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Prosopis africana Pau Carvão. Mesquite. Iron tree


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Prosopis africana Pau Carvão. Mesquite. Iron tree
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Summary

n the Serer creation myth, it is one of the sacred trees that grew not just first, but also within the primordial swamp on Earth.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prosopis africana is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Coulteria africana Guill. & Perr. Prosopis lanceolata Benth. Prosopis oblonga Benth.

Habitats

Edible Uses

The fermented seeds are used as a food condiment[418 , 774 ].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


The leaves are used in the treatment of headache and toothache as well as various other head ailments[418 ]. The leaves and bark are combined to treat rheumatism[418 ]. The bark is astringent. It is used in the treatment of skin diseases, caries and fevers[418 , 491 ]. The bark is used to make an eyewash[418 ]. The roots are diuretic[418 ]. They are used to treat gonorrhoea, tooth and stomach-ache, dysentery and bronchitis[418 ].

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: The tree is suitable for erosion control, shade and as an avenue tree[418 ]. It is planted to provide windbreaks, hedges and for soil conservation[325 ]. It can fix atmospheric nitrogen and the fallen leaves act as a green manure. It has great potential for parkland agroforestry systems and for improved agroforestry technologies in the Sahel, where it grows well in valleys and rocky soils[418 ]. Other Uses The bark and roots contain tannin[418 ]. The bark contains some 18% tannins[375 ]. A gum is obtained from the stems[303 ]. The ashes of the seedpods are used as a source of potash for soap making[303 ]. The sapwood is yellow, clearly demarcated from the red-brown heartwood, which becomes wine-red after drying[375 ]. The wood is hard; of medium to heavy density; with a fine grain; durable; resistant to termites[375 ]. It is hard to work as it blunts the tools, cannot be nailed without previous pre-drilling, but easy to carve, turn and glue[375 ]. The wood is used as timber for pestles, mortars, mallets, cudgels, furniture, joinery, sleepers in the construction of railway lines, boat building and axe handles[418 ]. It is sought for art and craft[375 ]. The wood is highly valued as a fuel and for charcoal making[375 , 418 , 491 ].

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Fodder: Pod  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Other Systems: Parkland  Regional Crop

A tree of semi-arid areas of the tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature falls within the range 22 - 35°c, but can tolerate 18 - 40°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 300 - 500mm, tolerating 200 - 700mm[418 ]. Requires a well-drained soil and a sunny position[418 ]. Tolerant of most soil types[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, but tolerates 5 - 7.5[418 ]. The tree has a deep, fast-growing tap root[375 ]. Responds well to coppicing[375 ]. This is the only tropical African Prosopis species, occurring from Senegal to Ethiopia in the zone between the Sahel and savannah forests[418 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[755 ]. In it natural habitat, flowering occurs just prior to the rainy season. Seeds mature between February and March. Fodder: pod.

Temperature Converter

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - fresh, still moist seed does not require pre-treatment, butdried seeds need to be pre-soaked for 12 - 24 hours in warm water until the seed shows visible signs of swelling. If necessary, make a small incision in the seed coat (being sure not to damage the embryo) to allow the ingress of water. Sow the seeds in a nursery bed. Germination of around 85% of the seeds can take place within a week at 25°c[325 ]. Seedlings are ready for planting out when 14 - 18 weeks old[303 ]. Air dried seeds can remain viable for several years at room temperature[325 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Its common names include African mesquite, iron tree,iron wood, gele (Malinke) (traditional djembe wood) or somb tree. abu surung,abu suruj(Arabic); Hausa (kiriya); jaxan-jaxan,ir (Wolof). Bal-tencali, Buiengue, Bussagan, Cachem-cachao, Culengo, Culim-o, Djandjam-o, Djeiha, Karbon, Keseg-keseg, Ogea, Pau-carvao, Po-carvao, Po-de-carbom, Po-di-carvom, Quessem-quessem, Tchalem-ai, Tchela-tche-lengage, Tchela, Tchelangadje, Tchelem, Teacali-mand, Tentera,

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central African Republic, CAR, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, Sahel, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, West Africa

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Prosopis albaWhite carob tree, Algarrobo blanco 22
Prosopis chilensisChilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquite20
Prosopis cinerariaJandi, Ghaf22
Prosopis glandulosaHoneypod mesquite. Glandular mesquite32
Prosopis julifloraMesquite, Honey Mesquite32
Prosopis pallidaAlgaroba22
Prosopis tamarugoTamarugo10

 

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(Guill. & Perr.) Taub.

Botanical References

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For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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