If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Tropical Plants

Boscia senegalensis

(Pers.) Lam. ex Poir.

Capparaceae

+ Synonyms

Boscia octandra Hochst. ex Radlk.

Common Name: Aizen

Boscia senegalensis
Shrubs growing in the Republic of Niger
Photograph by: Paul van Dam
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Boscia senegalensis Boscia senegalensis Boscia senegalensis Boscia senegalensis Boscia senegalensis Boscia senegalensis Boscia senegalensis

General Information

Aizen is an evergreen shrub or tree that can vary considerably in size according to habitat. In extreme aridity it shrinks to a scrawny shrub less than 2 metres tall, but in favourable environments it soars several times that height and becomes almost tree-like with a rounded, spreading crown[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
An important local food plant in the regions where the plant grows wild, since it is capable of surviving even in the harshest of arid environments. It is widely exploited for its fruits and seeds, whilst also providing medicines and a source of materials. The plant is also widely used as a repellent to protect stored food from pests and is planted in soil protection schemes[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The fruits are commonly sold in local markets[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

Africa - Senegal and Mauritania east through the Sahel to Egypt, Somalia and Kenya.

Habitat

It occupies most types of arid-land environment including stony slopes, sand dunes, and cracking-clay plains[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. It often occurs in desiccated, barren, hard, and even fire-scorched sites[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. It often sprouts directly out of termite mounds[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height8.00 m
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the arid tropics and subtropics where it can be found at elevations up to 1,450 metres[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. This plant's endurance is remarkable. It tolerates shade temperatures as high as 45°c, a level not rare in its habitat; it also survives in areas receiving as little as 100mm annual rainfall, although it grows best where there is at least 250 - 500mm[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
Requires a sunny position. Prefers sandy-clayey soils, fixed dunes, abandoned croplands and termite mounds[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
]. Succeeds even in very dry, poor, sandy, rocky, worn-out laterite, or clay soils[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
,
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].
Contributing to the plant's built-in drought tolerance is its remarkable leaf structure: the cuticle is up to 20 microns thick, the stomata are sunk in deep cavities, and each stomata has thickened walls and a protective armouring of papillae[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
The flowers provide bee forage, often in areas where little else capable of sustaining honeybees is available[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
Although the fruit is a seasonal food, its season differs from the norm and comes at the beginning of the rains, a time when farm crops are just being planted and anything to eat is usually difficult to find[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Edible Uses

The yellow cherry-sized berries (up to 15mm in diameter) are borne in clusters. When newly ripe, their rather sweet pulp is translucent and jelly-like. However, in the desiccating air it quickly dries out, turning into something not unlike caramel before ending up a brittle, brown, and quite sugary solid[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Despite its good taste, this toffee-like treat is difficult to separate from the seed[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Besides being eaten fresh, the ripe fruits are often boiled[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
The juice is sometimes extracted, filtered, and boiled down into a semisolid, which is commonly mixed with millet and curdled milk to make cakes[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

The dried seeds are used as a substitute for millet or lentils[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. They require lengthy preparation and must be eaten cooked[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The traditional procedure involves soaking the seeds for a week (changing the water daily) to remove bitter components[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Less commonly, the seeds are boiled for 3 hours (and rinsed at least twice with new water)[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. In either case, they are subsequently dried and ground into flour and used in making porridge[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

The roasted seed is used as a substitute for coffee[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Young roots, scraped of bark, may be ground, sieved, mixed with cereals, and boiled into a thin gruel or thick porridge[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. They are very sweet[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The roots can be sun-dried and stored for later use[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
The root tissues are also boiled slowly for several hours to make a sweet syrup[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

The leaves, although just about the most leathery and least appealing foodstuffs on earth, are also consumed[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Most are dropped into soups or boiled and mixed into cereal products such as gruel or couscous[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. The plant is particularly useful this way because it is an evergreen and provides food and nutrients when other plants are bare[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Medicinal

The leaves are used as a treatment against bilharziosis, guinea-worm sores, haemorrhoids, intestinal complaints, headaches, colic and ulcers[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].
An emulsion of the leaves is used as an eyewash[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

The roots are vermifuge[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].

The fruits are used in the treatment of syphilis[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].

The plant (part not specified) is used in the treatment of jaundice and swellings[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Aizen is a promising plant for establishing famine-food reserves, for protecting erodible soil, for stabilizing dunes, for windbreaks, and for other utilitarian purposes in the harshest of harsh sites[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Its foliage is unpalatable to livestock and other herbivores, who only eat it in times of direst need. Thus the trees are able to survive without the need for protection[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Other Uses

The leaves are added to granaries in order to protect stored foods against pests[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
]. This long-standing traditional process seems to work[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. Leafless twigs contain glucosinalates, which can hydrolyze to mustard oils, which are highly toxic and irritant to mucous membranes[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The plant contains natural coagulants. The bark, twigs, leaves, and roots are used to scavenge suspended and colloidal compounds from unclean water (such as that from ponds churned up by storms or from baobab-tree cisterns contaminated with soil). Normally the plant parts are sliced up and placed on the water surface. Compounds leach out and catch the clay and other particulates like magnets, causing them to clump and settle to the bottom. It is reported that truly turbid water can be safely drunk after just a day of such treatment[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. For even faster results, aizen branches are swirled in the water[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Aizen wood is soft and easy to work when boiled[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is cut for poles, notably those holding up houses[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
Although smoky and stinky, the wood is used as cooking fuel when nothing better is at hand (which in the harshest areas is all too often)[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Propagation

Seed - Although the seeds germinate readily, the seedlings have so far proved difficult to transplant from nursery to field. Thus, it is recommended that direct-seeding trials be established to find out how to establish healthy populations in situ[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]
There are claims that root and shoot cuttings have been used to propagate aizen[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
]. This could be a vital lead because with them superior plants can be replicated[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].
The possibility of grafting should be explored, because it would allow elite aizen types to be grafted onto the wild trees now so prevalent and widespread. That in turn would ensure rapid quality-fruit production. Also, it would provide lasting benefits because of the rootstock’s obvious adaptability to the site[
323
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 3 Fruits.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
2008
ISBN
030910596X
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized as fruits in Africa.
].

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.