Scientific name: Faidherbia albida, Sweet thorn group
Faidherbia is a medium-sized for fairly large tree up to 20-30m tall. It thrives in climates characterized by long summers, or a dry season with long days. An agroforestry multipurpose masterpiece with unique compatibility with cropping system.
The bark and roots are used in the fight against respiratory infections, digestive disorders, malaria and other fevers. The bark is used to clean teeth, as it is believed to contain fluorine; an extract is used for toothache.
Its pods and leaves are an important source of protein for livestock in the dry season. The bark is used to heal eye infections in livestock. Its root system offers excellent protection to the banks of rivers and streams.
It has the advantage of producing flowers at the end of the rains while most sahelian species flower before them, so can be used as a main source of bee forage at this time.
Faidherbia is considered as one of the best agroforestry trees for intercropping in fields. It is also planted on farms in order to provide shade for livestock in the dry season. Branches are chopped off for fencing compounds and livestock enclosures. The fact that the tree is leafless during the rainy season minimizes competition for sunlight with crops and protects them from birds until harvest time. Faidherbia yield is about 100kg/tree of leaves, 45kg/tree of bark and small wood.
Planting and tree management
When planting seedlings, the spacing should be 10m x 10m. It requires mean annual rainfall of 500-1000mm and altitude of 2000-2500m. 270-2700m, annual temperature of 18-30 deg. C. Coarse-textured well-drained alluvial soils are good for Faidherbia and it tolerates seasonal waterlogging and salinity but cannot withstand heavy clayey soils. Pruning in the 2nd year to about half the tree height may be needed to control low branching. Repeated pruning during periods of average biomass production stimulates leaf production. Can be pruned twice a year.
Faidherbia sheds its leaves in the rainy season; therefore, boosting the nutrient status of the soil for the new season’s crops.