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Folk Classification, Perception, and Preferences of Baobab Products in West Africa: Consequences for Species Conservation and Improvement

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Folk Classification, Perception, and Preferences of Baobab Products in West Africa: Consequences for Species Conservation and Improvement.The present study is a component of a baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) domestication research program being undertaken in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Senegal. Surveys conducted on a total of 129 women and 281 men of different ages included questions on perceptions and human/cultural meaning of morphological variation, use forms, preferences (desirable/undesirable traits), and links between traits. Local people in the four countries use 21 criteria to differentiate baobab individuals in situ. According to them, the easier the bark harvesting, the tastier the pulp and leaves; the slimier the pulp, the less tasty it is; the more closely longitudinally marked the fruit capsules, the tastier the pulp. This study shows that farmers are able to use preferred combinations of traits as a guide in collecting germplasm from trees. This can allow the selection of trees that would be candidates for propagation, and planning for a domestication program based on the indigenous knowledge.
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Folk Classication, Perception, and Preferences of Baobab
Products in West Africa: Consequences for Species Conservation
and Improvement
Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, University of Abomey-Calavi, 05 BP 1752 Cotonou, Benin
Bioversity International, Via dei Tre Denari 472/a, 00057 Maccarese, Rome, Italy
Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
*Corresponding author; e-mail:
Folk Classication, Perception, and Preferences of Baobab Products in West Africa: Consequences
for Species Conservation and Improvement.
The present study is a component of a baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) domestication research
program being undertaken in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Senegal. Surveys conducted
on a total of 129 women and 281 men of different ages included questions on perceptions
and human/cultural meaning of morphological variation, use forms, preferences (desirable/
undesirable traits), and links between traits. Local people in the four countries use 21 criteria
to differentiate baobab individuals in situ. According to them, the easier the bark harvesting,
the tastier the pulp and leaves; the slimier the pulp, the less tasty it is; the more closely
longitudinally marked the fruit capsules, the tastier the pulp. This study shows that farmers
are able to use preferred combinations of traits as a guide in collecting germplasm from trees.
This can allow the selection of trees that would be candidates for propagation, and planning
for a domestication program based on the indigenous knowledge.
Key Words: Baobab, indigenous knowledge, preferences, domestication, ethnobotanical
survey, agroforestry, West Africa.
Millions of the worlds poor rely on a wide
variety of forest products to sustain their live-
lihoods. At the same time, most agricultural crops
have been domesticated over a long period of
time, while few of the tens of thousands of forest
tree species can be considered to be domesticated.
Among the nondomesticated agroforestry species,
the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L.) is a key
economic species used daily in the diet of rural
communities in West Africa (Assogbadjo et al.
2006a; Codjia et al. 2001; Sidibé and Williams
2002). The species contributes to rural incomes
(Diop et al. 2005) and has various important
medicinal and food uses (Assogbadjo et al. 2006a;
Delisle et al. 1997; Diop et al. 2005; Sena et al.
1998; Sidibé et al. 1996; Sidibé and Williams
2002; Yazzie et al. 1994). Within the species,
there is evidence indicating the existence of a
number of local forms differing in habit, vigor,
size, quality of the fruits, and foliar vitamin
content (Assogbadjo et al. 2005a; Gebauer et al.
2002; Sidibé and Williams 2002).
Regional consultations organized by the Inter-
national Centre for Underutilised Crops have
accorded high priority to the enhancement of
research and development of Adansonia digitata
(Sidibé and Williams 2002). Baobab has been
identied as among the top ten agroforestry tree
species to be conserved and domesticated in West
Africa (Eyog Matig et al. 2002). National research
efforts, especially in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali,
Nigeria, and Senegal, have provided data on food
Economic Botany, 62(1), 2008, pp. 7484
© 2008, by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.
Received 7 May 2007; accepted 10 September 2007;
published online 1 May 2008.
values, agronomy, ethnobotanical knowledge, ecol-
ogy, and genetic diversity of baobab (Assogbadjo
et al. 2005a,b; Assogbadjo et al. 2006a,b; Codjia
et al. 2001,2003; Diop et al. 2005; Sidibé and
Williams 2002). Baobab might be classied as a
species in the early stages of domestication,
without established, well-known varieties. Very
little information is available on baobab tree
variation using either quantitative descriptors or
local perceptions on the variation.
The main objective of this study is to provide
the basis for an efcient strategy for the domes-
tication and improvement of baobab in West
Africa. Specically, the study involves an ethno-
botanical survey among local people in four West
African countries in order to (1) understand local
perceptions of baobab tree variation, (2) identify
local peoples preferences (both desirable and
undesirable) regarding baobab traits, and (3)
assess correlations between various traits accord-
ing to local people in order to identify easy-
to-monitor parameters for desired traits.
Materials and Methods
In this study, four countries have been sampled
in the Sudanian and Sudano-Sahelian regions of
West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and
Senegal (Fig. 1). These countries encompass the
most important climatic regions suitable for
baobabs in West Africa (Wickens 1982). Within
each country, sampling of localities has been done
in the areas where local ethnic groups use baobabs
on a daily basis and have been shown to have
outstanding and important knowledge of bao-
babs. This has been assessed through both
literature review and surveys among local pop-
ulations, with the help of the forestry and
agricultural departments in each selected country.
Local informants participated and provided infor-
mation on a voluntary basis. Surveys have been
conducted among 129 women and 281 men
randomly drawn from nine ethnic groups: the
Ditamari (Benin); the Mossi and Gourmantché
Fig. 1. Studied countries and localities. The localities were selected because local ethnic groups are considered
to have outstanding and important knowledge of baobab.
(Burkina Faso); the Grune, Dagbale, Kaseem, and
Wale (Ghana); and the Wolof and Sérére
(Senegal). In each ethnic group, interviews have
been conducted with men (Mi) and women (Fi)
of different ages (1): youth (i30 years old),
adults (30<i60 years old), and old persons (i
60 years old).
An ethnobotanical survey was carried out
between October 2006 and January 2007.
Structured interview surveys were conducted
among various randomly selected people from
different ethnic groups. Interviews included ques-
tions on perception and human/cultural meaning
of morphological baobab variation, use forms,
preferences (desirable/undesirable traits), and
links between traits and different uses of baobab
products according to these people of different
ages, sexes, countries, and climatic zones.
The interviewees were grouped according to
ethnic group, sex, and age so that in each ethnic
group, six subgroups were dened: young men
(M1), adult men (M2), old men (M3), young
women (F1), adult women (F2), and old women
(F3). Within the nine ethnic groups, a total of 48
subgroups were constituted instead of 54 (9× 6),
because of the absence of some subgroups in the
overall surveyed sample.
Because the size of subgroups differed and an
interviewee could choose more than one baobab
trait, relative frequency of each trait was deter-
mined for each of the 48 subgroups. This
parameter is dened as the proportion of inter-
viewees belonging to the subgroup who identied
the particular baobab trait. A data matrix com-
prising the relative frequencies of baobab traits
according to the 48 subgroups was then submit-
ted to Principal Component Analyses (PCA)
using SASv9 software. This statistical method
was used at each step of this study to describe
linkages between choices of baobab traits by
different local populations. It was also used to
identify traits that best explained the patterns of
variation according to the different subgroups.
For graphic purposes, the subgroups are labeled
by preceding the ethnic group prex with the
label of one of the six subgroups dened above.
For example, a young man from Ditamari ethnic
group is labeled DitamM1, whereas an old
woman from the same ethnic group is labeled
In West Africa, local perceptions of baobab
differentiation vary from one country to another.
Local people in the four investigated countries
used 21 criteria to differentiate individual baobab
trees growing in traditional agroforestry systems.
These criteria are related to the characteristics of
the leaves (taste, color, smoothness, phenology,
resistance to insect attack), fruits (color of pulp,
smoothness of capsule, sliminess of pulp, size and
shape of capsule, hardness of capsule, ber and
pulp yield in the capsule, seed color, kernel taste),
bark (color, structure, harvesting), and the whole
tree (crown shape, fertility). Table 1shows the
percentage of persons using different criteria and
variants to identify and distinguish baobab
individuals in each of the four countries. The
most commonly used criteria were: leaf taste,
pulp taste, sliminess of fruit pulp, pulp color, size
and shape of capsule, and the fertility of baobab
trees (Table 1). There were some criteria which
were seldom used, and were only recorded in one
or two countries. These were leaf phenology (1%
in Ghana), leaf resistance to insect attacks (3.1%
in Benin and 1.2% in Senegal), ber quantity in
the capsule (0.2% in Senegal), and speed of
capsule maturity (5.1% in Benin).
Based on locally recognized variants, several
different types of baobab were distinguished in
the traditional agroforestry systems of West
Africa. Using color and structure of bark as
criteria, four types of baobab were distinguished
by Burkinabe in Burkina Faso: smooth pink bark,
rough gray bark, smooth gray bark, and black
bark. Considering the size and shape of the fruits,
four types of baobab can be distinguished: small-
sized capsules, long and middle-sized, round and
middle-sized, and large capsules. In terms of the
taste of the leaves, two types of baobab can be
distinguished: baobab with bitter leaves and
baobab with delicious leaves. Regarding the taste
of the pulp, local populations distinguish the
baobab with sweet pulp from the baobab with
acidic and slightly acidic taste. Using fruit
production as a criterion, local people distin-
guished two types of baobab tree: the so-called
Organs/tree Criteria Variant
Percent of interviewees using the criteria per country
Benin (98) Burkina Faso (92) Ghana (92) Senegal (128)
Leaves Leaf taste Delicious 100 100 100 100
Smoothness of leaves Hairy 72.4 0 0 3.1
Leaf phenology Precocious 0 0 0 1
of leaf defoliation
Precocious 53.1 0 0 6.4
Leaf resistance to
insect attack
High 3.1 0 0 1.2
Leaf color Green 0 1.79 0 0
Green shiny
Fruit Pulp taste Sweet 100 50 33.33 25
Slightly acidic
Smoothness of capsules Hairy 3.1 0 0 1
Sliminess of fruit pulp Slimy 67.3 47.8 23.6 18.8
Not slimy
Pulp color Floral white 25.5 17.9 2 6.1
Capsule size and shape Small 69.4 47.8 18.8 3.5
Medium and long
Medium and round
Capsule hardness Hard 0 0 0 2.3
Less hard
Yield of fruit pulp A lot 0 47.8 0 0
Speed of capsule maturity Precocious 5.1 0 0 0
Fiber quantity in capsule Many 0 0 0 0.2
Seed color Violet 0 17.9 0 0
Kernel taste Fatty and delicious 0 17.9 0 0
Bark Ease of bark harvest Easy 3.1 0 1.8 23.8
Bark color and texture Pink and smooth 0 41.3 0 0
Rough and gray
Smooth and gray
Tree Fertility of tree Male(never produce
mature fruits)
59.2 19 26.8 16.2
(produce fruits)
Crown color-aerial view Reddish 19.4 0.5 0 1.6
Light green
female,fruit-producing trees, and the male
trees, which never produce fruits. It has to be
noted that the maletrees are not biologically
male, since baobabs are hermaphrodites (Wickens
1982), but they are specied as such by the local
people because of the fact that they never produce
(mature) fruits. This may be due to some kind of
incompatibility within the reproduction system or
genetic inbreeding at the tree level.
Several traits of baobab are considered desir-
able and others undesirable by local people
(Table 2). A PCA analysis, performed on the
available interview data (results not shown),
revealed several interesting differences and corre-
spondences between the studied ethnic groups at
the level of baobab preferences. The Ditamari
ethnic group (Benin) identify desirable traits as
hard kernels, delicious leaves, hairy capsules, high
pulp yield in the fruit, tardy maturity of capsules,
easy-to-harvest bark, and small capsule size.
Desirable traits for the Gourmantché and Mossi
ethnic groups (Burkina Faso) include high yields
of sweet, acidic, nonslimy pulp, good-tasting
leaves, and big capsules with fatty, delicious
kernels. The Kaseem, Wale, and Grune ethnic
groups (Ghana) often consider sweet, nonslimy
pulp, delicious leaves, and big capsules as
desirable baobab traits.
In contrast, the undesirable baobabs are the so-
called maletrees, or the ones producing acidic
pulp, slimy pulp, tasteless kernels, bitter leaves,
hard seed coat, low yield of pulp, and/or difcult-
to-harvest bark. Specically, people from the
Gourmantché ethnic group consider baobabs
with following features as undesirable: male
baobabs, acidic pulp, tasteless kernels, big cap-
sules, oral white slimy pulp, and low pulp yield
in capsule. Desirable traits for the Ditamari ethnic
group in Benin often include fragility of the seed
coat and precociousness or tardy capsule maturi-
ty. But adult and old Ditamari, especially the
men, often add the following to the above-listed
traits: tastelessness of the kernel, low pulp yield in
the capsule, and oral white pulp. The Mossi
ethnic group (Burkina Faso) mention small
capsules and low pulp yield in the capsule as
undesirable traits.
Organs Criteria Variant
Desirable Undesirable
Leaves Leaf taste Delicious +
Bitter +
Fruits Pulp taste Sweet +
Acidic +
Slightly acidic +
Sliminess of fruit pulp Slimy +
Not slimy +
Pulp color Floral white + +
Yellowish +
Capsule size and shape Small + +
Large + +
Yield of fruit pulp High +
Low +
Speed of capsule maturity Precocious + +
Tardy + +
Kernel taste Fatty and delicious +
Tasteless +
Bark Ease of bark harvest Easy +
Difcult +
Tree Fertility of tree Male+
+, positive response.
Most of the Sérére and Wolof (Senegal) and
the ethnic groups from Ghana consider baobabs
having bark that is difcult to harvest to be
Finally, there are some criteria (size and shape
of capsules, speed of capsule maturity, and oral
white pulp color) considered both as desirable
and undesirable traits by different local people.
In rural areas, local people are aware of the
links between different traits of baobab. Whereas
some criteria are related to the whole tree, others
are related to the characteristics of baobab
products. According to local people, hairy baobab
leaves are also tasteless; trees for which bark can
be easily harvested or which have hard or middle-
sized, long-shaped capsules are the ones that
produce sweet pulp and delicious leaves; those
with precocious or tardy maturity of their capsules
produce a sweet pulp. Baobabs that produce soft
seeds are the ones yielding maleoffspring.
Moreover, local people are able to link (1) the
sliminess of the pulp with its taste: the slimier the
pulp, the worse its taste; (2) the capsule size and
shape with its pulp yield: the bigger and rounder
the capsules, the higher the yield in pulp; and (3)
the presence of scratches on capsule and its pulp
taste: the more scratches on capsules, the sweeter
the pulp. Also, according to local people, male
baobabs always produce tasteless and sometimes
bitter leaves.
The result of the principal component analysis
(PCA) performed on the desirable traits showed
that the rst three axes explained 61.5% of the
observed variation. Therefore, only the rst three
axes were used to describe the relationship
between capacity to link traits and the factors of
country, age, sex, and climatic zones. Table 3
shows the sign of correlations between the
different criteria and the three PCA axes.
Figure 2A and B show the projection of the
different socioethnic subgroups onto the 1st and
2nd, 1st and 3rd axes, respectively.
Taking into account Fig. 2A and B and data
from Table 3, it can be deduced that the
Ditamari ethnic group (Benin), especially young
and adult men, link maleprogeny to easily
breakable seeds; sweet pulp and delicious leaves to
middle-sized and long-shaped capsules; male
tree to tasteless leaves; femaletree to tasty
leaves; and precocious or tardy maturity of the
Table 3. Correlation (Corr) between linked traits and PCA axes.
Axis1 Corr Axis2 Corr Axis3 Corr
Bark easy to harvest and taste
of pulp and leaves
0.97 Easily breakable seed and
0.96 Pulp yield and capsule size 0.94
Thin capsule end and
good taste
0.89 Middle-sized and long-shaped
capsules and sweet pulp,
delicious leaves
0.96 Maletree has tasteless
leaves and femaletree
has tasty leaves
Existence of lament in leaves
and pulp and leaf taste
0.87 Hairy and tasteless leaves 0.93 Sliminess of pulp and
tasteless of pulp
Pulp color and pulp taste 0.87 Maletree has tasteless
leaves and Female
tree has tasty leaves
Hairy capsule and good taste 0.79 Precocious or tardy
maturity of capsules
and tasty pulp
Striped capsule and
good taste
Insect attack importance
and taste
Sliminess of pulp and
tasteless pulp
Leaf form and good taste 0.60
Hard capsule and
good taste
capsules to tasty pulp. Adults and old men from
the Mossi group also use the above links
combined with the following additional correla-
tions: pulp yield and capsule size, sliminess of
pulp and tastelessness of pulp. The Wolof and
Sérére ethnic groups, especially adult Wolof men,
draw these correlations: taste of pulp and leaves to
easy bark harvest; good taste to thin capsule end;
leaf taste to existence of lament in leaves and
pulp; pulp taste to pulp color; good taste to leaf
form; hard, hairy, striped capsule and tasteless
pulp to sliminess of the pulp. The ethnic groups
from Ghana as well as the Gourmantché from
Burkina Faso are not well represented in Fig. 2A
and b. But the analysis of the data matrix suggests
that most of the individuals in these groups link
maletree to tasteless leaves and femaletree to
tasty leaves, leaf form to good taste, and the
sliminess of the pulp to its tastelessness. In
addition to these links, the Gourmantché ethnic
group observes that pulp yield and capsule size
appear to be linked.
Discussion and Conclusions
In order to provide the basis for an efcient
strategy for the domestication and improvement
of baobab (Adansonia digitata)intheWest
African region, the current study provides impor-
tant information on the perceptions and tradi-
tional knowledge of local ethnic groups from
four West African countries. Domestication has
been dened as human-induced change in the
genetics of the species to conform to human
desires and agroecosystems (Harlan 1975). The
participatory domestication of indigenous fruit
trees, like baobab, is an appropriate means to
alleviate poverty (Poulton and Pool 2001), and
could also have positive benets on the envi-
ronment since new plantings of baobab will help
to restore the declining resources of this impor-
tant tree.
Within the species, there is evidence indicating
the existence of a number of local types differing
in habit, vigor, size, and quality of the fruits,
leaves, and seeds. In previous studies, focused on
Benin (Assogbadjo et al. 2005a,2006b), we
observed a link between the known morphomet-
ric diversity of baobab and both abiotic, environ-
mental factors and genetic determinism. As, at
least in Benin, morphological features are to some
degree linked with genetic diversity (Assogbadjo
et al. 2006b), there appears to be considerable
potential for selecting or breeding desirable
baobabs to suit local peoples preferences.
In general, this ethnobotanical survey showed
that indigenous knowledge of baobab trees varies
according to ethnic group, sex, age, and country.
Women in general and old people in particular
have greater knowledge than youths and men to
allow them to distinguish baobabs, and therefore
it will be more suitable mainly to involve old
women in the research/development programs
related to germplasm sampling and baobab
Selection or breeding programs, if targeting the
whole West African region, should mainly focus
on the baobabs having desirable traits as generally
identied by the local people in the studied
countries. This study shows that baobabs having
delicious leaves, sweet or slightly acidic pulp,
nonslimy pulp, yellowish or white pulp color,
capsules producing high yields of pulp, fatty and
delicious kernels, easily -harvestable bark, and high
fruit production (i.e., femaletrees) are generally
preferred in all studied rural areas of West Africa.
The undesirable baobabs are the maletrees (not
in the sense of biologically male, but a term used
by local people to dene nonproductive trees), the
ones producing bitter leaves, acidic pulp, tasteless
kernels, slimy pulp, scarcely harvestable bark, and
low pulp yield in the capsule.
In addition, this study revealed that there are
some specic traits which are desired only in
some countries. Consequently, it will be more
relevant to dene for each country a specic
selection and improvement program of baobab,
taking into account the most important and
desired traits for local people in that country.
For instance, baobabs producing small capsules
are only desired in Benin, while those producing
big capsules are preferred in Ghana, Senegal, and
Burkina-Faso. Thus selection and breeding pro-
grams yielding the propagation of baobabs pro-
ducing big capsules will be more applicable in
Ghana, Senegal, and Burkina-Faso than in Benin.
Preference for certain baobab characteristics
mainly depends on their importance (economic,
food, cultural, etc.) and uses for local people. For
instance, malebaobabs are not preferred because
they cannot provide fruits/capsules, which are
considered to be economic products by local
people. At the same time, delicious leaves are pre-
ferred because they are tasty (food use) and can be
easily sold on the market (economic importance).
The use of differentiation criteria of baobab
individuals in rural areas shows that the species
has high cultural and economic value in West
Africa. Since local people have the knowledge to
correlate different criteria characterizing baobab
individuals, farmers are able to guide researchers
in collecting germplasm from superior trees.
Therefore, the potential for selecting or breeding
desirable baobabs for local people seems to be
promising. This can allow selecting the plus
treefor propagation, and planning a domestica-
Fig. 2. PCA to reveal linkages between baobab traits according to local populations. Projection of socioethnic
groups in three axes: A1 and 2; B1 and 3.
tion program based on the indigenous knowledge.
For instance, high-yield pulp production of
baobab is desired in Burkina Faso. Since local
people in this country have observed a link
between capsule size and shape, on one hand,
and its pulp yield, on the other hand, a selection
program targeted at high-yield pulp production
can base sampling strategies on baobabs produc-
ing big capsules in the traditional agroforestry
systems in this country.
All plant parts of the baobab are being used by
local people for a wide range of purposes, from
food, medicine, and marketing to other domes-
tic uses. The current and potential markets for
baobab fruit products can be divided into three
segments: food and beverages, botanical reme-
dies and nutraceuticals, and natural cosmetics
(Gruenwald and Galizia 2005). It is important to
identify potential market niches and to determine
which product characteristics as perceived by local
people need to be improved through genetic
Moreover, leaves and fruits from the baobab
are locally consumed on a frequent basis through-
Fig. 2. (continued).
out the year and make a signicant nutritional
contribution to diets (Assogbadjo et al. 2006a;
Glew et al. 1997; Sidibé and Williams 2002).
However, knowledge of the nutritional content is
far from complete. For instance, no information
is available on the bioavailability of specic
baobab nutrients and their direct effect on human
health (Sidibé and Williams 2002). Hopefully,
the great potential of baobab in regional and even
international markets will be a strong stimulus for
further research and development efforts towards
better understanding and utilization of the species.
Having indicated above the great opportunities
(e.g., for breeding) arising from the identication
and capture of intraspecic variation in Adansonia
digitata, it is also important to consider the
conservation and maintenance of the morpholog-
ical and genetic diversity present within the
species. Nowadays, traditional agroforestry sys-
tems already imply some kind of selection process
through the specic planting of baobab indi-
viduals with preferred traits by local farmers.
Intensication of such domestication of this
species may lead in a few years to a progressive
elimination of baobab individuals of bad quality
while preserving the ones producing good quality
fruits, seeds, barks, and leaves. Nonpreferred
genotypes will be less and less numerous in
baobab populations; their genes will be trans-
ferred with a lower frequency over generations
and hence the population structure will change.
Consequently, the risk of a substantial decrease of
the genetic diversity within baobab population is
high. Therefore, it is essential that domestication
activities are undertaken with the realization that
it is important to retain and maintain as much
variationaspossibleinspecic conservation
programs. Since desirable traits of baobab vary
according to country and ethnic groups, conser-
vation strategies should also be specic to each
At present, no conservation areas in West
Africa are specically set aside for the protection
of the baobab. This can only be established
through traditional agroforestry systems and
protected areas. Conservation strategies for bao-
bab in West Africa should target not only the
various morphotypes as dened by local people,
but should also incorporate information on
genetic variation and population genetics identi-
ed by using molecular techniques. In the case of
Benin, it was shown that some morphometric
variables were genetically determined (Assogbadjo
et al. 2006b). However, since no large-scale
information is available on baobab tree variation
combining both molecular data and local percep-
tions, it is not known whether the desired or
nondesired traits are purely genetically dened.
To avoid the negative impact that can result from
articial selection in traditional agroforestry sys-
tems, we recommend conserving the less desirable
baobabs ex situ in gene banks. At the same time,
desirable baobabs can be preferably conserved in
situ as natural gene pools in traditional agrofor-
estry systems.
This work is supported by Bioversity Interna-
tional and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., a
Dupont Company, through the receipt of a
Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship. We also thank The
Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation for its addi-
tional nancial support through The Rufford
Small Grant for Nature Conservation, as well as
The King Leopold III Fund for Nature Conser-
vation and Exploration for its nancial support
for the eldwork in West Africa. We thank all
these institutions and their donors. Our acknowl-
edgment also goes to the local people of Benin,
Ghana, Senegal, and Burkina Faso, and to Ir.
Hugues Akpona (LEA-FSA-Benin), Dr. Sina
Sibidou (CNRS-Burkina-FasoBurkina Faso), Dr.
Dogo Seck (CERRAS-Senegal), Dr. Macoumba
Diouf (ISRA-Senegal), and Mr. Joseph Mireku
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... R.Br. ex G.Don] [27], baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) [10], and marula or cider tree [Sclerocarya birrea A.Rich.)] [28]. So far, very little has been done to document phenotypic diversity and local knowledge systems on the shea tree. ...
... Ekué et al. [33] also reported for Blighia sapida K.D. Koenig that differentiation criteria included fruit size, which was by far the most quoted criterion by farmers in Benin. Similarly, in a study on farmer classifications of the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) in West Africa, Assogbadjo et al. [10] recognized 'male' and 'female' baobab trees. These authors also reported that local perceptions of baobab differentiation vary from one country to another. ...
... A major problem for cropping systems in the tropics is the reduction in soil productivity that accompanies most systems of continuous cultivation [40]. The past decades have shown a rapid decline in land productivity and soil fertility in particular [10]. Moreover, the observed inter-annual variability in fruit yield [41] can explain the absence of consistency among farmers about these variables. ...
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Trait diversity is crucial in undertaking the domestication of useful species such as Vitellaria paradoxa which makes a significant contribution to the rural household economy in Africa. This study aims to document the criteria farmers use to distinguish shea trees; how they vary according to age, education level and sociolinguistic group; and their perception of trees’ abundance and production. We surveyed 405 respondents across shea parklands in Benin using a semi-structured questionnaire. We used the Kruskal-Wallis test to evaluate the influence of sociodemographic attributes on relative criteria citation frequency and principal components analysis to characterize farmers’ perception on morphotypes’ abundance, fruits, and butter yields. The five most cited criteria were fruit size (55.5%), tree fertility (15.40%), bark colour (10.51%), timing of production (5.38%), and pulp taste (3.42%). The citation frequency of criteria varied significantly depending on the sociodemographic factors considered. Trees having small fruit (‘Yanki’) were reported to be widespread and high fruit/nuts and butter producers. Farmers perceived five important traits with variable importance depending on the sociocultural factors studied. This finding is a key step toward the development of a shea improvement program that could focus on the morphotype Yanki reported to potentially be a high fruit and butter producer.
... Evidence points to West Africa as the origin of the African baobab, from which it became widely distributed to the rest of the savannas of Africa and Madagascar (Pock Tsy et al., 2009). All baobab parts (bark, flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, seeds) are useful and edible (Kaboré et al., 2011), even if the fruit pulp, leaves and seeds are the parts mostly used for food and nutrition security (Assogbadjo et al., 2008;Rashford, 2018). Over 300 baobab uses have been reported in West Africa alone spanning across 11 ethnic tribes (Buchmann et al., 2010). ...
... Baobab is distributed throughout Benin Codjia et al. (2003), Assogbadjo et al. (2005a), Chadare et al. (2008), Djossa et al. (2015), and Dossa et al. (2015) Accessibility Baobab food resources are available almost all the year round in Benin Assogbadjo et al. (2005a), Chadare et al. (2010), and De Caluwe and Van Damme (2011) Availability Elite baobab trees with locally preferred traits have been identified in Benin Assogbadjo et al. (2008Assogbadjo et al. ( , 2009 Selection for domestication, thus ensuring accessibility, availability and sustainability ...
... Local communities in Benin have demonstrated a great depth of knowledge that enables them identify baobab morphotypes with preferable traits. According to Assogbadjo et al. (2008), local communities use a matrix of 21 criteria to differentiate baobab morphotypes in Benin. The matrix criteria relate to leaf, fruit, bark and tree traits. ...
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The African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) is a multipurpose orphan tree species of the semi-arid and sub-humid Sub-Saharan Africa where it plays an important role in rural livelihoods. Its wide distribution and dense nutrition properties make it an important species for food and nutrition security in Africa. However, despite the increasing interest in the species over the past two decades, the full potential of baobab remains underexploited. This review highlights strides made over the past 20 years (2001–2020) towards harnessing and unlocking the potential values of baobab in Benin, West Africa, to contribute to food and nutrition security. Challenges and threats are identified, and next steps suggested to guide research and development initiatives for orphan tree fruit species like baobab to address hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
... These indices were calculated according to the gender and age groups of the population surveyed. The age classes proposed by [23] were used. ...
... These indices were calculated according to the gender and age groups of the population surveyed. The age classes proposed by [23] were used = / × 100 -S: the number of people who provided an answer in relation to a given use of products from the species studied. -N: total number of people interviewed. ...
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Regardless of the continent, man has a relationship with plants, but each community ritualizes its relationship with its environment according to various factors. This relationship is often distinct from the practices of other neighboring communities and influenced by the language of communication. This research aims to analyze the relationship between sociolinguistic communities of the Banwa province in the western part of Burkina Faso, and the species Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. The fieldwork based on an ethnobotanical survey involved 267 people chosen at random and divided into three age groups comprising men and women, most of whom are illiterate. It essentially emerges from the study that the values of the indices of diversity and equitability of knowledge are low according to gender, and according to age. These values indicate an unequal distribution of knowledge of the species between respondents. In addition, the study revealed 6 forms of uses of the products of the species and among the different parts of the species, the leaves are more in demand than the bark and the fruit.
... Regarding aloes, the species were grouped according to their size, one moment in the life form "trees", the next as herbaceous. Differences in the way people perceive and classify plants was also recorded by Assogbadjo et al. (2008), who specifically analyzed the species known as Baobab (Adansonia digitata), in different African countries, and verified that the informants' perception of this plant changed from one country to another, as well as the criteria used to determine the types of Baobab. Hanazaki et al. (2006) found an organization different from that observed in Soledade, despite using the same criteria (morphological and utilitarian). ...
... Jinxiu et al. (2004) indicated the importance of the ethnotaxonomic classification for actions focused on local conservation, suggesting that it can be used in rapid biodiversity surveys. Assogbadjo et al. (2008) used the ethnotaxonomic research for a better understanding of the relationship between the informants and a single species, observing its use and possible indications for its conservation. Silva et al. (2017) used the folk classification to show that people name landscapes based on current and past use, finding an efficient strategy to optimize the use of these landscapes by the local population. ...
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This research sought to contribute to plant ethnotaxonomic studies and aimed to describe cognitive and utilitarian aspects used in communities in the semi-arid region of Brazil. The question asked in the interview was: "What plants do you know?" The interviews were conducted with local specialists, using plant names written on cards randomly placed on a table. The informants were asked to organize the cards according to their understanding. Two hundred and one folk generics were recorded in Cachoeira and 185 in Barrocas, both communities located in the Municipality of Soledade (Paraíba). These generics were divided into 65 trees/shrubs, 138 herbs, 10 lianas/creepers, 7 cacti, and 4 bromeliads. A total of 146 monotypic and 24 polytypic folk generic were identified. The life forms were abundant; some of them had already been recorded in the literature but others were recorded for the first time. The morphological and utilitarian aspects were the most used classification criteria. The informants followed no consensus model to organize their classification.
... Author(s) agree that this article remain permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License of plant species in consideration to socio-demographic, ecological, and botanical factors, such as sociolinguistic groups, livelihood activities, age, gender, habitats, areas of occurrence of species, etc. (Agbo et al., 2020;Wanjohi et al., 2020;Salako et al., 2018;Assogbadjo et al., 2008). Such studies have grown very interesting in sustainable management of endangered species because they allow assessing the differences of knowledge about the choice and use of plant resources by sociodemographic groups for defining priorities, planning, and monitoring conservation (Dovie et al., 2008). ...
... Data analysis was carried out based on five factors: ecological zones (EZ); sociolinguistic groups; age; gender; and livelihood activities. Three age classes were made according to Assogbadjo et al. (2008): young respondents (age ≤ 30 years); adult respondents (30 < age < 60); old respondents (age ≥ 60 years). To describe the people's perception of the ecology (habitat) of P. erinaceus, we performed the chi-square test of independence on the n x p matrix (with n the ecological zones, and p the habitats of the species). ...
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Pterocarpus erinaceus Poir, a spontaneous species from Guinean savannahs of West Africa, functions as socioeconomic and cultural livelihood in rural areas of Benin. This study improved the knowledge of people about the uses of P. erinaceus organs connected to the sociolinguistic diversity in Benin, intending to enhance the pathways of conservation and sustainable management of the species. A total of 506 respondents from nine big sociolinguistic groups were interviewed using a survey questionnaire. To show the diversity of the organs/parts used as well as the categories of uses, principal component analyzes were performed to matrices including the relative frequencies of citation grouping the socio-demographic factors and the categories of uses, together under the packages FactoMineR and factoextra. The results revealed the use of all P. erinaceus organs in various forms of use for various purposes and make it an important species of livelihood for the local people. Sixty-four diseases, symptoms, or pathologies are cured by using P. erinaceus organs. These various uses of P. erinaceus varied among the sociolinguistic groups. The results of the study suggest the need to define conservation strategies for the natural stands of P. erinaceus to ensure sustainable management of the species.
... Interviewees were invited to reveal their knowledge of the diversity of WOPs, their preferred species and the preference criteria used for selection. Three age categories were considered (15 ≥ age < 30 years for youths; 30 ≤ age < 60 years for adults; age ≥ 60 years for elderly persons) (Assogbadjo et al., 2008). In total, 72 interviews of 11 people (mean) were conducted. ...
Wild oil plants (WOP) are species used for food, cosmetics, nutraceutical, and medicine. In Benin, their importance is still poorly documented. This study investigated the diversity of WOPs and identified priority species for valorization in Benin. Literature synthesis was used to gather data on a list of WOP species. This was completed by ethnobotanical surveys involving users (traditional healers, farmers, fishers, traders, and resource persons), actors in the three biogeographical zones of Benin (Guineo-Congolian, Sudano-Guinean, and Sudanian zones). In addition, field visits to the species habitats were conducted with the help of local populations to assess the true presence of species mentioned during the survey and their availability. Data were collected on the identity of informants, WOPs used or known, ethnobotanical, nutritional and economic values, valorization level, their national distribution and threat status. Data were analyzed using the Chi-square test and Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Findings showed that oils extracted from these WOP seeds serve for medicinal (49.25%), food (29.85%), cosmetic (17.91%), and fuel (2.99%) purposes, and neither gender nor the main occupation defined knowledge of WOP diversity. A total of 36 WOPs belonging to 25 botanical families were identified. The top five priority species to be valorized across the country were: Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Delile, Ricinodendron heudelotii (Bail.) Pierre, Lophira lanceolata Tiegh. ex Keay, Sesamum indicum L., and Cleome gynandra L. These species were identified as important resources for alleviating poverty and food insecurity in the communities and as potential candidates for the development of the oilseed sector in Benin. Further studies are needed to document the indigenous knowledge associated with those species, existing processing techniques, and exploitable capital to ensure their sustainable management.
... Les ressources forestières constituent l'une des bases fondamentales pour le développement économique et social des populations rurales en Afrique (Sanogo, 2015). Malheureusement, l'exploitation de ressources forestières pour les besoins quotidiens augmente proportionnellement avec la démographie (Assogbadjo, 2008) si bien que de nombreux écosystèmes complexes riches en espèces sont rapidement détruits (Abdou et al., 2019). De plus, l'exploitation incontrôlée des formations végétales boisées entraîne la régression rapide, voire la disparition totale de certaines plantes très utiles aux communautés (Sanogo et al., 2013), alors que les informations sur leur biologie et leur sylviculture sont encore éparses. ...
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Résumé Adansonia digitata L., Afzelia africana Sm., Dialium guineense WiIld., Diospyros mespiliformis Hochst. ex A. De., Khaya senegalensis (Desr.) A. Juss., Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth., Tamarindus indica L., sont sept espèces ligneuses autochtones du Bénin d'importance socio-économique et médicinale, mais vulnérables et ayant des graines récalcitrantes. Les traitements et substrats utilisés afin de lever la dormance des semences pour élever leur taux de germination et stimuler les performances germinatives et la croissance des plantules sont fonction des espèces. Ainsi, en plus du témoin (T0), les tests de germination à la scarification tégumentaire à l'eau bouillante (T1), à l'eau froide des graines pendant 24 heures (T2), à l'acide sulfurique concentré pendant 60 minutes (T3) ou pendant 30 minutes (T4), à l'alcool pendant 30 minutes (T5) ont été appliqués aux semences des sept espèces sur trois substrats (100% humus, 100% substrat terreau et 50% humus + 50% terreau). Les tests suivis pendant 40 jours ont permis d'identifier les meilleures méthodes de propagation. Les résultats ont montré que les semences ayant subi des traitements T1 ont eu les meilleurs taux de germination (70-100%). Les semences témoin de A. digitata (70-90%), K. senegalensis (90-100%) et T. indica (90-100%) ont eu des taux élevés sur les trois substrats. Le substrat terreau et le substrat terreau-humus avec le traitement T4 ont favorisé la croissance des plantules qui a été plus rapide pour D. mespiliformis sur le substrat humus. Les semences témoins A. digitata, A. africana, D. mespiliformis, K. senegalensis et T. indica ont connu une dynamique progressive sur les trois substrats. Toutefois, la croissance des plantules la plus accélérée a été enregistrée sur le substrat terreau pour A. africana, K. africana et T. indica. En somme, le traitement T1 est favorable pour une meilleure germination des semences des espèces étudiées. En outre, le substrat terreau et le terreau-humus assure la croissance rapide des plantules. Mots clés : Ligneux à valeur marchande, pouvoir germinatif, développement végétatif, semences, conservation. Effect of pre-germination and substrate on germination and growth of seven tree species of socioeconomic and medicinal importance in Benin Abstract Adansonia digitata L., Afzelia africana Sm., Dialium guineense WiIld., Diospyros mespiliformis Hochst. ex A. De., Khaya senegalensis (Desr.) A. Juss., Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth., Tamarindus indica L., are seven tree species indigenous to Benin of socioeconomic and medicinal importance, but vulnerable and having recalcitrant seeds. The treatments and substrates used to seed dormancy break to increase their germination rate and stimulate germination performance and seedling growth are species dependent. Thus in addition to the control (T0), the germination tests with integumentary scarification with boiling water (T1), with cold water from the seeds for 24 hours (T2), with concentrated sulfuric acid for 60 min (T3) or for 30 min (T4), with alcohol for 30 min (T5) were applied to the seeds of the seven species on three substrates (100% humus, 100% potting soil and 50% humus + 50% potting soil). Testing over 40 days identified the best methods of propagation. The results showed that seeds that had undergone T1 treatments had the best germination rates (70-100%). Control seeds of A. digitata (70-90%), K. senegalensis (90-100%) and T. indica (90-100%) had high rates on all three substrates. The potting soil substrate and the potting soil-humus substrate with the T4 treatment favored the growth Bulletin de la Recherche Agronomique du Bénin (BRAB) Septembre 2021-Volume 31-Numéro 02 BRAB en ligne (on line) sur le site web ISSN imprimé (print ISSN) : 1025-2355 et ISSN électronique (on line ISSN) : 1840-7099 61 of seedlings which was faster for D. mespiliformis on the humus substrate. The control seeds A. digitata, A. africana, D. mespiliformis, K. senegalensis and T. indica experienced progressive dynamics on the three substrates. However, the most accelerated seedling growth was recorded on the potting medium for A. africana, K. africana and T. indica. In short, the T1 treatment is favorable for better germination of the seeds of the species studied. In addition, the potting soil and the potting soil ensure the rapid growth of the seedlings.
... 40, n° 1 -Janvier -Juin 2021 Science et technique, Sciences Naturelles et Appliquées linéaire généralisé de type poisson a été utilisé pour évaluer l'effet du facteur sexe, de l'âge et du groupe socioculturel sur les usages de l'espèce. Les classes d'âges retenues sont conformes à celles deASSOGBADJO et al. (2008) : les jeunes (âge ≤ 30 ans) ; les adultes (30 < âge <60) et les vieux (≥ 60 ans).Tableau II. Echelle de vulnérabilité utilisée pour les différents paramètres. ...
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La compréhension des rapports des populations locales aux ressources naturelles est utile pour orienter les stratégies de gestion durable de ces dernières. L'objectif de cette étude est d'évaluer la variation des savoirs et connaissances endogènes des populations locales sur l'annone sauvage, Annona senegalensis Pers., au sein de différentes communautés le long d'un gradient phytogéographique du Nord-ouest au Sud-ouest du Burkina Faso. Un échantillonnage stratifié et aléatoire a été adopté pour enquêter 285 personnes appartenant à huit groupes socioculturels et reparties dans trois secteurs phytogéographiques. Les données obtenues à travers des interviews semi-structurées ont permis de calculer des indices ethnobotaniques sur la base desquels les groupes ont été comparés. Les résultats révèlent que la pulpe, les feuilles et les racines ont des Fréquences Relatives de Citations, respectivement de 84,2%, 79,4% et 63,9%. Les domaines de la pharmacopée (86,25%) et de l'alimentation (85,22%) ont enregistré les Fréquences Relatives de Citations les plus élevées. Les valeurs d'Usage (VU) varient significativement suivant les secteurs phytogéographiques (p<0,05) et les caractéristiques socioculturelles. L'Indice de Vulnérabilité (IV) révèle que l'annone est très vulnérable du fait de la pression anthropique. Au regard de son importance dans la société, il est impératif que des mesures urgentes soient prises pour sa gestion durable.
Indigenous plant species native to Africa have numerous uses. They have a long and rich ethno-medicinal history with well-known native applications in different African countries. The effects of these indigenous underutilized crops in local traditional medicine differ. But they play an important role in enhancing food and nutrition security of the population. Tropical plant species have economic potential as they make great socio-economic impact on the livelihoods of rural dwellers. Despite their economic, food and nutritional values, these plants are still underutilized and have not been brought under regular cultivation culture due to inadequate information about their food values and their agronomic requirements for cultivation. Their potential values to the African food system could be enhanced if they are domesticated and prevented from going into extinction. Thus, the potential implications for long-term sustainable food security of these plants should not be neglected. Therefore, there is the need to recognize and enable indigenous foods from the indigenous plant species to serve as a key resource in ensuring healthy food systems in Africa. The inherent potential of the following tropical indigenous plant species African Walnut (Plukenetia conophora Muell Arg.), Saba (Saba senegalensis (A. DC.) Pichon), Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) and Kapok (Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.) are discussed in this review.
Ethnopharmacological relevance In Benin, traditional recipes are used to improve livestock dairy performance, but they are not sufficient documented. The study aimed to inventory the galactogenic recipes used by herders to improve production in cow farming. Aim of the study The study aimed to inventory the galactogenic recipes used by herders to improve production in cow farming. Material and methods We conducted semi-structured interviews among 65 peuls camps, 4 bioclimatic zones, and 565 farmers dialogue partners, including agro-pastoralist, healers and pastoralists from the rainy season April and May 2019. Detailed information about homemade herbal remedies of galactogenic recipes (plant species, plant part, manufacturing process) and the corresponding use reports (dialogue partner, category of use and route of administration) was collected. Then other to classify the various recipes identified into homogeneneous groups according to their effectiveness in stimulating milk, a numerical classification was carried out on the recipes taking into account the milk gain. Results They showed that Peuls and Gandos sociocultural groups have a better knowledge of galactogenic recipes. Of the 295 recipes inventoried, 102 frequently cited recipes were divided into two groups. Group 2, consisting of 16 recipes, had a significantly (p < 0.001) higher milk yield than group 1. Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. and Arachis hypogaea L. were the main ingredients of the recipes (respectively 56 and 31% of incorporation rate). The composition of the recipes varied according to the agro-ecological zones. Herders in Northern Benin used more recipes based on Bobgunnia madagascariensis (Harms) J.H.Kirkbr. & Wiersema, Saba comorensis (Bojer ex A.DC.) Pichon and Euphorbia balsamifera Aiton. Those in Southern Benin mainly used recipes based on Gardenia aqualla associated with Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp or Arachis hypogaea L.. To improve the effectiveness of galactogenic recipes, socio-cultural and magical-religious practices are used when procuring the plant material to be used, preparing the galactogen and administering the recipe to the animals. These include pronounced incantations or recited Koranic verses. The most commonly used route of administration is the oral route with an average treatment duration not exceeding 5 days. Conclusion The study reveals that the majority of breeders (90%) opt for the use of galactogenic plants rather than synthetic products to improve milk production.
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Introduction. Adansonia digitata L. is a multi-purpose species in Africa; it has a great morphological variability. Our work aimed at characterizing and measuring this morphological variability in various prospected climatic zones in Benin, then at building predictive models of production variables starting from capsule characters. Materials and methods. The analyses related to a biometric characterization of 1200 capsules grouped in four various forms distributed in the whole of three climatic zones; these data were supplemented by an evaluation and a modelling of the baobab productions. Results and discussion. The most discriminating variables of the baobab capsule form and of the prospected climatic zones were the capsule length, the pulp weight, the total capsule weight, the almond weight, the capsule thickness and the ratio [length / width]. On average, a capsule weighs 275 g in the Guinean zone, 273 g in the Sudan-Guinean zone and 204 g in the Sudanian zone; in each one of these zones, it produces 54 g, 51 g and 32 g of pulp, and approximately 37 g, 28 g and 23 g of almond. The average productions of seeds, almond and pulp were modeled and adjusted with square root functions and/or a logarithmic curve according to the various climatic zones. Conclusion. The morphometric variables made it possible not only to make a rather precise typology of the various capsule forms but also to estimate their production starting from predictive models. The variability of the baobab capsule production in various climatic zones could be a parameter useful for a genetic improvement of the species answering the needs and the means of the rural populations. Introduction. Adansonia digitata L. est une espèce à usages multiples en Afrique qui présente une forte variabilité morphologique. Nos travaux ont cherché à caractériser et à mesurer cette variabilité morphologique dans différentes zones climatiques prospectées au Bénin, puis à construire des modèles prédictifs de variables de production à partir de caractères de la capsule. Matériel et méthodes. Les analyses ont porté sur une caractérisation biométrique de 1200 capsules groupées en quatre différentes formes réparties dans l’ensemble de trois zones climatiques ; ces données ont été complétées par une évaluation et une modélisation de leurs productions. Résultats et discussion. Les variables les plus discriminantes de la forme des capsules de baobab et des zones climatiques prospectées ont été la longueur de la capsule, le poids de la pulpe, le poids total de la capsule, le poids de l’amande, l’épaisseur de la capsule et le rapport [longueur / largeur]. En moyenne, une capsule pèse 275 g en zone guinéenne, 273 g en zone soudano-guinéenne et 204 g en zone soudanienne ; elle produit dans chacune de ces zones 54 g, 51 g et 32 g de pulpe, ainsi que 37 g, 28 g et 23 g d’amande. Les productions moyennes en graines, amande et pulpe ont été modélisées et ajustées à des fonctions racine carrée et/ou logarithmique suivant les différentes zones climatiques. Conclusion. Les variables morphométriques ont permis non seulement de faire une typologie assez précise des différentes formes de capsules mais aussi d’estimer leur production à partir de modèles prédictifs. La variabilité de la production des capsules de baobab suivant différentes zones climatiques pourrait être un paramètre utile à une amélioration génétique de l’espèce répondant aux besoins et aux moyens des populations rurales.
Africa has abundant wild plants and cultivated native species with great agronomic and commercial potential as food crops. However, many of these species, particularly the fruits and nuts, have not been promoted or researched and therefore remain under-utilized. Moreover, many of these species face the danger of loss due to increasing human impact on ecosystems. Sudan, as in many other African countries, is endowed with a range of edapho-climatic conditions that favor the establishment of many plant species, most of which are adapted to specific ecological zones. Among these plants is the baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) which is a fruit-producing tree belonging to the family Bombacaceae. The baobab has an exceedingly wide range of uses ranging from food and beverages to medicinal uses. Despite its potential, which is well recognized, very little is known about the tree phenology, floral biology, husbandry or genetic diversity. In this article, we have aimed to bring out detailed information on various aspects of its botany, ecology, origin, propagation, main uses, genetic improvement and especially its importance for nutrition and poverty alleviation in the Sudan.
The leaves of the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L.) are a staple of populations in many parts of Africa, especially the central region of the continent. Among the people who comprise the Hausa ethnic group in particular, it serves as the main ingredient of a soup called "miyar kuka." However, the literature contains few studies of the nutritional quality of baobab leaf. In the present report, we show that baobab leaf contains 10.6% (dry weight) protein and an amino acid composition which compares favorably to that of an "ideal" protein: valine (5.9%), phenylalanine + tyrosine (9.6%), isoleucine (6.3%), lysine (5.7%), arginine (8.5%), threonine (3.9%), cysteine + methionine (4.8%), tryptophan (1.5%). In terms of mineral content, baobab leaf is an excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, and zinc. These data indicate that in terms of both quality and quantity, baobab leaf can serve as a significant protein and mineral source for those populations for whom it is a staple food.
This study was carried out in the Sudanian (9°45'–12° N), Sudano-Guinean (7°30'–9°45' N) and Guinean (6°25' – 7°30' N) zones of Benin. The distribution and relative abundance of the baobab was studied by means of megatransects and by surveying a number of selected sites. In each zone, an estimate was made of pulp, seed and kernel production from 1200 fruits harvested from 30 individuals. In the Sudanian zone and in some regions of the Dahomey-Gap in the Guinean zone, a population density of 5 baobabs per km2 was recorded. In the Guinean zone, a density of only 1 baobab per km2 was recorded. The baobab population's occurred on sandy soils in the Sudanian and Guinean zones and on sandy–clayey soils in the Sudano-Guinean zone. Flowering and fruiting of the baobab is seasonal. The morphology and productivity of individual baobabs varied significantly from one zone to another. The zones with high values of potential evaporation, rainfall, relative humidity, temperature, pHwater and percentage of fine silt are associated with a low seed and fruit pulp production. The higher the pHKCl, the percentage of total nitrogen, organic carbon and organic matter, the higher the number of seeds produced by an individual baobab. The higher the clay and crude silt content of the soil, the better the productivity.
Introduction. Very characteristic of Sahelian areas, Adansonia digitata L. belongs to the Bombacaceae family. Essentially exploited in a spontaneous state for its fruits or its leaves, the baobab plays an important role in the local traditional cultures. The plant. This very big tree is clearly distinguishable from the other Adansonia species endemic in Madagascar and Australia, mainly by its very large trunk (up to 10 m in diameter), its pendular flowers and its rounded crown. It produces (150 to 300) g dry berries with a woody epicarp, most of the time ovoid, called “monkey bread”. These fruits contain many seeds in a whitish and floury pulp. The compounded leaves consist of five to seven digitate leaflets. The baobab distribution area is very large. Very rustic, it is found in most of South Sahara's semi-arid and sub-humid regions as well as in the west side of Madagascar. The plant phenology depends on the rains profile, flowering and foliation occurring during the rainy season. Pollination is done by bats. The tree can be propagated by seeding or vegetative multiplication. The fruit. It consists of (14 to 28)% of pulp with a low moisture content, acidic, starchy, rich in vitamin C, in calcium and magnesium. After separating of the seeds, the pulp is traditionally used as an ingredient in various preparations or to make beverages. In spite of some deficiency in lysine and the presence of some anti-nutritional factors, the seeds are an interesting protein source. They contain about 15% of lipids. After cooking or grilling, they are either directly consumed or used like thickeners in powder form. The leaves. They are rich in vitamins (especially C and A) and in iron, and contain mucilage (10% dm). The youngest can be consumed as vegetables, but they are often dried and then reduced into powder. Conclusion. Among the food products obtained from the baobab, the fruit pulp seems to have the strongest economic potential. Nevertheless, the local markets have to be evaluated. The development of the production of baobab fruits needs more investigation into the agronomy of the tree.
The leaves, seeds, flowers, and fruit of many indigenous plants are staples of populations who inhabit the Sahel region of Africa. They serve to supplement the nutrients provided by cereals such as millet and sorghum. However, there is a lack of comprehensive compositional data regarding the nutrient content of these indigenous plants. In this report, we present nutritional data for 24 plant materials collected in Burkina Faso, including their content of amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals. Three plants contained 20 to 37% protein (on a dry weight basis):Vigna sp., Hibiscus esculentus,andParkiia biglobosa.Relative to a WHO protein standard, three plants scored relatively high:Voadzeiia subterranea, Pennisetum americanum,andBixa orellana.Plants which contained large amounts of the essential fatty acids linoleic or α-linolenic acid wereVigna sp., Hibiscus esculentusseeds,Parkiia biglobosaseeds, andVitex donianafruit. Three plants were rich in iron:Adansonia digitata, Bixa orellana,andXylopia sp.The fruit and seeds ofHibiscus esculentuswere an excellent source of zinc. The plant foods with the highest calcium content wereAdansonia digitataleaves,Hibiscus sp.,andBombax costatum.These data show that in terms of both quality and quantity there are numerous spontaneous desert plants that can serve as significant sources of essential amino acids, essential fatty acids and trace minerals for populations living in the western Sahel.
This is an attempt to pull together what is known about that extraordinary tree, the African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.-Bombacaceae). There are many surprising gaps in our knowledge, which are most likely to be reduced by closer collaboration between fieldworker, laboratory and herbarium botanist.