Parkia biglobosa!! Marked as invasive by:Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species

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Related Links
P. biglobosa pods and leaves.
© Anthony Simons
Parkia biglobosa slash
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Parkia biglobosa flower
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Parkia biglobosa foliage
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Parkia biglobosa mature trees
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Parkia biglobosa
© Lovett
Parkia biglobosa
© Boffa, Jean-Marc
Parkia biglobosa
© Boffa, Jean-Marc

Local names:
English (monkey cutlass tree,arbre a farine,two ball nitta-tree,African locust bean,fern leaf), French (Arbre à farine,nerre,néré,Arbre à fauve,caroubier African), Mandinka (Netto,Nété,Nér), Swahili (mnienze,mkunde), Trade name (dadawa,dawa-dawa,soumbal,

Parkia biglobosa is a perennial deciduous tree with a height ranging from 7 to 20 m, although it can reach 30 m under exceptional conditions. Crown large, spreads wide with branches low down on a stout bole; amber gum exudes from wounds; bark dark grey brown, thick, fissured.

Leaves alternate, dark green, bipinnate to 30 cm long, pinnae up to 17 pairs with 13-60 pairs of leaflets, 8-30 mm x 1.5-8 mm, of distinctive shape and venation. Leaflets held on a long rachis.

Peduncles 10-35 cm long; capitula 4.5-7 cm long and 3.5-6 cm in diameter, biglobose but distal portion much larger. Hermaphrodite flowers orange or red in colour: calyx 10-13 (16 max.) mm; corolla 10-14 (17 max.) mm long, lobes very short 1-3 mm long, connate in the middle and free or connate at base; filaments exserted about 4 mm beyond calyx mouth. Nectar-secreting flowers: calyx about 6-7 mm long. Staminodial flowers: calyx about 5.5-7 mm long, filaments exserted 2-3 mm beyond calyx mouth. 

Pods, pink brown to dark brown when mature, about 45 cm long and 2 cm wide; may contain up to 30 seeds embedded in a yellow pericarp. Seeds have a hard testa, are large (mean weight 0.26 g/seed) with large cotyledons forming about 70% of their weight.

Robert Brown described the genus Parkia in 1826. He named it after Mungo Park, a Scot who made 2 remarkable journeys of exploration into the interior of West Africa in 1795-1797 and 1805.

Ecology

Occurs on a wide range of natural and semi-natural communities such as open savannah woodlands, but it is most conspicuous and abundant in anthropic communities, principally bush fallow and wooded farmland where cultivation is semi-permanent. The tree can also grow on rocky slopes, stony ridges or sandstone hills. It is a fire-resistant heliophyte.

P. biglobosa occurs in a diversity of agroecological zones, ranging from tropical forests with high and well-distributed rainfall to arid zones where mean annual rainfall may be less than 400 mm. It has a capacity to withstand drought conditions because of its deep taproot system and an ability to restrict transpiration.

Native range
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome et Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Uganda

Tree management

Deciduous in the dry season; often wholly or partially leafless while flowering; seedlings are harmed by browsing and hence need protection from stock. During the dry season, P. biglobosa retains green leaves with minimal shedding of old mature leaves; those shed are quickly replaced. During the dry season, farmers lop branches to feed their livestock to supplement low-quality grass forage; the age and the frequency of cutting are likely to influence regrowth: young trees cut more frequently and at lower cutting height decline in productivity quicker than old ones.

Orthodox storage behaviour; no loss in viability during 1 year of hermetic storage at 4 deg. C. There are about 2800-6700 seeds/kg.

Occurs on a wide range of natural and semi-natural communities such as open savannah woodlands, but it is most conspicuous and abundant in anthropic communities, principally bush fallow and wooded farmland where cultivation is semi-permanent. The tree can also grow on rocky slopes, stony ridges or sandstone hills. It is a fire-resistant heliophyte.

P. biglobosa occurs in a diversity of agroecological zones, ranging from tropical forests with high and well-distributed rainfall to arid zones where mean annual rainfall may be less than 400 mm. It has a capacity to withstand drought conditions because of its deep taproot system and an ability to restrict transpiration.

P. biglobosa has 2 types of seed: reddish-dark and dark (black); both occur in every pod, and the ratio of their number varies from 1:20 to 1:5; the reddish-dark seed seems to have a thinner coat, probably a development factor, and germinates earlier than the dark seed if the seeds are not acid treated before sowing. Dark seeds have a hard seed coat and require various pretreatments to ensure good germination rates; acid treatment appears to be the best method; next is by chipping the seeds at 1 end. Germination can also be improved by scalding the seeds for about 7 min and then cooling or soaking them in hot water overnight; usual the germination rate is 75%. P. biglobosa can be established vegetatively in nursery beds by grafting or budding, or by rooting adult cuttings.

Poison:  Bark and pods contain piscicides; the alkaloid parkine that occurs in pods and bark may be responsible. 

  Seeds are fermented to make dawadawa, a black, strong-smelling, tasty food high in protein. Dried fermented seeds keep for more than a year in traditional earthenware pots without refrigeration, and small amounts are crumbled during cooking into traditional soups and stews that are usually eaten with sorghum- or millet-based dumplings and porridges. Because of the savoury taste and the high protein and fat values of the seed, it is sometimes described as a meat or cheese substitute, but it is not usually eaten in large amounts. Dawadawa is rich in protein, lipids and vitamin B2. Parinari curatellifolia is deficient in the amino acids methionine, cystine and trytophan, but fermented beans are rich in lysine. The fat in the beans is nutritionally useful (approximately 60% is unsaturated). Seeds are used as a coffee substitute. Seeds are embedded in a mealy pulp sometimes called dozim, that is high in energy value. It contains up to 29% crude protein and up to 60% saccharose, is rich in vitamin C and high in oil content. The pulp is eaten raw or made into a refreshing drink and is used as a sweetener. For storage, it is pressed into a cake. The fruit provides emergency food during severe droughts. Young pods are sometimes roasted on embers and eaten. Leaves are edible but not commonly eaten. The leaves are mixed with cereal flour and eaten or fermented into balls and used in sauces.

Whole pods are eaten by domestic stock, including cattle. The young seedlings are nutritious and heavily browsed by livestock. An important attribute of P. biglobosa trees is that most of their leaves remain green throughout the dry season and branches are lopped and used as fodder. Seeds are rich in calcium, sodium, potassium and phosphorus.

Apiculture:  P. biglobosa attracts bees and is a popular tree among beekeepers.

Branches are sometimes lopped for firewood.

Fibre:  Pods and roots are used as sponges and as strings for musical instruments.

Timber:  Wood is whitish, moderately heavy, 580-640 kg/cubic m when air seasoned, relatively hard and solid; it smells unpleasant when newly felled, but seasoning does not take long and only occasionally causes shape distortion; easily worked by hand or power tools; nails, glues, varnishes and paints well; mainly useful as a light structural timber, for example, for vehicle bodies, agricultural implements, boxes, crates and barrels, furniture, mortars and pestles, bowls, planks and carvings. Twigs are used to clean teeth; bark stains mouth red and contains saponins that clean teeth.

Shade or shelter:  P. biglobosa is a useful windbreak and shade tree.

Tannin or dyestuff:  Husks of pods mixed with indigo improve the lustre of dye products. Seeds and bark contain tannin, and bark is used in tanning.

Medicine:  Bark is used as a mouthwash, vapour inhalant for toothache, or for ear complaints. It is macerated in baths for leprosy and used for bronchitis, pneumonia, skin infections, sores, ulcers, bilharzia, washes for fever, malaria, diarrhoea, violent colic and vomiting, sterility, venereal diseases, guinea worm, oedema and rickets, and as a poison antidote. Leaves are used in lotions for sore eyes, burns, haemorrhoids and toothache. Seed is taken for tension, and pulp for fevers, as a diuretic and as a mild purgative. Roots are used in a lotion for sore eyes.

Gum or resin:  Mucilage from part of fruit is made into a fluid and used for hardening earth floors and to give a black glaze in pottery; gum exudate is proteinaceous and contains as the constituent sugars galactose, arabinose, glucuronic and 4-0-methyglu

Soil improver:  Soils under P. biglobosa trees are improved by leaf fall.

Intercropping:  It is common practice to grow several crops such as maize, cassava, yams, sorghum and millet under P. biglobosa canopy.

Alcohol:  Fruit pulp can be fermented into an alcoholic beverage.