Prosopis cineraria: Wikis


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Prosopis cineraria
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliopsida
Class: Magnoliophyta
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Prosopis
Species: P. cineraria
Binomial name
Prosopis cineraria
(L.) Druce, 1914

Mimosa cineraria L.
Prosopis spicigera L.[1]

Prosopis cineraria is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to arid portions of Western and South Asia,[1] such as the Arabian[2] and Thar Deserts.[3] Common names include Ghaf (Arabic),[1] Khejri, Jant/Janti, Sangri (Rajasthan), Jand (Punjabi), Kandi (Sind), Banni (Kannada), Vanni (Tamil), Sami, Sumri (Gujarat). It is the provincial tree of the Sindh province of Pakistan.



at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India.
trunk at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India.
leaves at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India.

Prosopis cineraria is a small to medium-sized thorny tree, with slender branches armed with conical thorns and with light bluish-green foliage. The leaflets are dark green with thin casting of light shade. It coppices profusely.

The tree is evergreen or nearly so. It produces new flush leaves before summer. The flowers are small in size and yellow or creamy white in colour, appear from March to May after the new flush of leaves. The seedpods are formed soon thereafter and grow rapidly in size, attaining full size after about about two months.

It is well adapted to browsing by animals, such as camels and goats. Young plants assume a cauliflower-like, bushy appearance in areas open to goat browsing.

Prosopis cineraria requires strong light, and dense shade will kill seedlings. The crown (aboveground portion) grows slowly.

The root system of Prosopis cineraria is long and well developed, securing a firm footing for the plant and allowing it to obtain moisture from groundwater. Taproot penetration up to 35 m (115 ft) in soil depth has been reported. Like other members of the family Fabaceae, symbiotic bacteria found in its root nodules allow it to fix nitrogen in the soil, improving soil fertility.


Prosopis cineraria inhabits dry, arid areas where annual rainfall averages less than 500 mm (20 in). Rainfall shows considerable variation in the most important areas of its distribution, ranging from 100 to 600 mm (3.9 to 24 in) annually, with a long dry season. In areas of its natural distribution, the climate is characterised by extremes of temperature. Summers are very hot and winters are severe with frost from December to January. The maximum shade temperature varies from about 40 to 46 °C (104 to 115 °F), while the absolute minimum temperature ranges from 9 to 16 °C (48 to 61 °F). The tree is able to withstand the hottest winds and the driest season, and remains alive when other plants would succumb.

It is a tree of the plains or gently undulating ground and ravine country and seldom extends into the hills. The tree exhibits considerable drought hardiness.

The tree grows on a variety of soils, but grows best on alluvial soils consisting of various mixtures of sand and clay. It is common on moderately saline soils, but quickly dries out where the soil is very saline.


Khejri pods and flowers

Prosopis cineraria occurs in Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, southern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.[1]

In India it is one of the chief indigenous trees of the plains of the Punjab, Western Rajasthan and Gujarat and is common in Bundelkhand and the neighborhoods of Delhi and Agra. It is also found in the dry parts of Central and Southern India, occurring in parts of Maharashtra (near Nasik), Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka south of Godavari, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and the drier parts of the Deccan Plateau. Its range extends as far south as Tuticorin.

In general the climatic climax of the Indian Thar Desert is represented by Prosopis cineraria and Salvadora oleoides. P. cineraria occurs on grazing lands, cultivated fallows, and barrens, reserved forests. Prosopis cineraria is found in association with Tecomella undulata, Capparis decidua, Maytenus emarginata, Ziziphus species, and Salvadora species.

The density of Khejri increases from the Western to Eastern part of the Western Rajasthan. Older and younger alluvial plains are the two habitats preferred by Khejri but it also grows well in sandy undulating plains. Because of its capacity to avail perched water and to absorb moisture from rains through its foliage, it can grow in the extremely arid tracts (100 mm rainfall).


Lopping of Khejri tree for fodder and firewood in the village Harsawa

Prosopis cineraria provides wood for use in construction. It is used for house-building, chiefly as rafters, posts scantlings, doors and windows, and for well construction water pipes, upright posts of Persian wheels, agricultural implements and shafts, spokes, fellows and yokes of carts. It can also be used for small turning work and tool-handles. Container manufacturing is another important wood-based industry, which depends heavily on desert grown trees.

Prosopis cineraria is much valued as a fodder tree. The trees are heavily lopped particularly during winter months when no other green fodder is available in the dry tracts. There is a popular saying that death will not visit a man, even at the time of a famine, if he has a Prosopis cineraria, a goat and a camel, since the three together will sustain a man even under the most trying conditions. The forage yield per tree varies a great deal. On an average, the yield of green forage from a full grown tree is expected to be about 60 kg with complete lopping having only the central leading shoot, 30 kg when the lower two third crown is lopped and 20 kg when the lower one third crown is lopped. The leaves are of high nutritive value. Feeding of the leaves during winter when no other green fodder is generally available in rain-fed areas is thus profitable.

Prosopis cineraria is most one of the most important feed species for desert livestock, contributing a major proportion of their feed requirements. It provides nutritious and highly palatable green and well as dry fodder that is readily eaten by camels, cattle, sheep and goats, Locally it is called Loong. The seedpods, locally called sangar or sangri, contain sweet pulp. The dried pods, locally known as Kho-Kha, are eaten by humans and nearly all livestock. Pods are also fed to animals when young (green) and their taste is improved by boiling and drying them. They are also used as famine food and known even to prehistoric man. Even the bark, having an astringent, bitter taste, was reportedly eaten during the severe famines of 1899 and 1939. Pod yield is nearly 14,000 kg/km² with a variation of 10.7% in dry locations.

The heating value of Prosopis cineraria wood is reported to be high, making it some of the best firewood. The lopped branches are good as fencing material.

Conservation uses

Prosopis cineraria has a very deep taproot system and hence it does not generally compete with the associated crops. The improved physical soil conditions compared with higher availability of nutrients under the Khejri canopy explain the better growth of the crops associated with it.

Rural communities encourage the growth of Prosopis cineraria in their agricultural fields, pastures and village community lands. Because of its extensive root system, it stabilizes shifting sand dunes and is also useful as a windbreak and in afforestation of dry areas. It fixes atmospheric nitrogen through microbial activities and adds organic matter through leaf litter decomposition, rejuvenating poor soils. Because it is the only tree species in arid regions, it provides provides much needed shade and shelter to the farmers working in the fields as well as to the cattle and wildlife during the summer months.

Pods of Prosopis cineraria are eaten by cattle, sheep, horses, mules, donkeys, goats, camels and other desert wildlife. In western Rajasthan, Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) and Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) have survived by eating the pods and leaves of this tree.

Because of its economic value, the tree is left standing in arable land and the farmers regulate its population by adapting suitable agroforestry management practices.

Medicinal uses

Prosopis cineraria flower is pounded, mixed with sugar and used during pregnancy as safeguard against miscarriage. Water-soluble extract of the residue from methanol extract of the stem bark exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.

Prosopis cineraria plant produces gum, which is obtained during May and June. The bark of the tree is dry, acrid, bitter with a sharp taste; cooling anthelmintic; tonic, cures leprosy, dysentery, bronchitis, asthma, leukoderma, hemorrhoids and muscle tremors. The smoke of the leaves is good for eye troubles. The fruit is dry and hot, with a flavour, indigestible, causes biliousness, and destroys the nails and the hair. The pod is considered astringent in Punjab. The bark is used as a remedy for rheumatism, cough, the common cold, asthma, and scorpion stings. The plant is recommended for the treatment of snakebite.

Amrita Devi Bishnoi Society

The conservation of khejri trees is a religious tenet of Rajasthan's Bishnoi community. The Government of India has recently instituted the 'Amria Devi Bishnoi National Award for Wildlife Conservation' in the memory of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who in 1731 sacrificed her life along with 363 other community members to protect the khejri trees in Khejarali village near Jodhpur.

Sami tree in Mahabharata

The Mahabharata Book VIII: Karna Parva, Chapter 30, verse 24 mentions tree species as Sami, Pilu and Karir tree species as under in Sanskrit and IAST:

शमी पीलु करीराणां वनेषु सुखवर्त्मसु (śamī pīlu karīrāṇāṃ vaneṣu sukhavartmasu)
अपूपान सक्तु पिण्डीश च खाथन्तॊ मदितान्विताः (apūpān saktu piṇḍīś ca khādanto mathitānvitāḥ)
Meaning - "When shall I be amongst those ladies eating cakes of flour and balls of pounded barley mixed with skimmed milk, in the forests, having many pleasant paths of Sami and Pilu and Karira!" (VIII.30.24)

It is one of the sacred tree in Tamil Nadu, India. It is the sthala vriksha of some of the Siva & Murugan temples.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Prosopis cineraria (L.) Druce". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2006-01-27. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  2. ^ "Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublands (PA1303)". WWF Full Reports. World Wide Fund for Nature. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  3. ^ "Thar desert (IM1304)". WWF Full Reports. World Wide Fund for Nature. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  • Abdel Bari E.; Fahmy G.; Al Thani N.; Al Thani R.; Abdel-Dayem M.; (2007) The Ghaf Tree, Prosopis cineraria in Qatar. published by Qatar University and National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage, Doha.
  • KHEJRI (Prosopis cineraria), Booklet Published by the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun on behalf of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehra Dun
  • Gupta, R.K. & Prakash Ishwar (1975). Environmental analysis of the Thar Desert. English Book Depot., Dehra Dun.
  • Kaul, R.N. (1967). Trees or grass lands in the Rajasthan- Old problems and New approaches. Indian Forester, 93: 434-435.
  • Burdak, L.R. (1982). Recent Advances in Desert Afforestation- Dissertation submitted to Shri R.N. Kaul, Director, Forestry Research, F.R.I., Dehra Dun.

External links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Prosopis cineraria
Prosopis cineraria


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales
Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Mimosoideae
Tribus: Mimoseae
Genus: Prosopis
Species: Prosopis cineraria


Prosopis cineraria (L.) Druce


  • Botanical Exchange Club and Society of the British Isles 3:422. 1914
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. [1]
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Prosopis cineraria on Wikimedia Commons.

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