Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf in Arabic) – An unsung hero of the desert


The Story of Ghaf in her own words

When you see me thrive in your fields, you may wonder if I’m stealing water from your crops. I’m not! my taproots goes down 35-60 meters in search of water. That’s about. the width of one of your football fields! I actually protect your agriculture by acting as a windbreak to slow down dust storms. My roots also stabilize sand dunes, preventing the desert from taking over.

The roots of Prosopis cineraria reach up to 60 meters deep
The cineraria is one of the most resilient trees of the desert

Prosopis is evergreen, resilient to harsh weathers, and taller up to a reasonable height

An evergreen tree, grow up to 25m tall; trunk un-branched for several meters; branches droop, giving the canopy a rounded appearance with short triangular spines between leaves nodes; bark is fissured or cracked providing shelter to different insects. The tree is also frost hardy and tolerant of temperatures up to 50 oC.

Prosopis is a desirable food for camels, donkey, and goat – Ensuring food for livestock in challenging climatic conditions

The leaves are an available, excellent, and nutritious fodder, readily eaten by many animals including camels, goats, and donkeys. I call it an ice cream plant species for the camels. https://arkbiodiv.com/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/

The tree produces leaves during the extremely dry summer months when most other trees are leafless, ensuring food for the livestock in challenging weathering conditions. Leaves are a rich source of food as it contain 13.8% crude protein, 20% crude fiber, and 18% calcium. The pods also provide a good fodder, containing a higher level of crude protein.

Some very important and basic information about the different aspects of the Prosopis cineraria in the table

NoParticularsDetails available for each particularl
1LeavesGrey-green; divided into two pinnae, each with 7-16 pairs of leaflets with pointed tips.
2FlowersFlowering twice a year from March to May and from October to January. Tiny flowers on cylindrical spikes. The flowers are valuable for honey production.
3PodsPods cylindrical; slightly curved; yellow to reddish brown. The pods (fruits) form soon after flowering and grow rapidly in size within two months time it reach the full pods size.
3Food and Ethnobiomedical usesThe people living in the desert eat the young leaves and seed pods.
Extracts of leaves used as eye drops; extracts of crushed pods used as ear drops; leaves chewed for toothache.
Ashes of burnt bark mixed with water to relieve pain in fractured bones; bark used for rheumatism and also applied to scorpion stings.
4BarkThe nomads use the bark leather tanning (skins of sheep and goats for using as water and oil containers) and also yields an edible gum.
The details of each particular is provided in details

The insects, birds and other wildlife love to live in Prosopis tree. The honeybee make web here and I found it very often. In the following link, you can see the promotable growth of the tree in the desert and see a big honeybee web. https://youtu.be/pMK5UZ0qA4Y

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