Animal feed resources information system

Biul (Grewia optiva)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Biul, beul, bhimal, bhiunal, dhaman, bihul [Hindi]; ghotli, shyalphusro [Nepali]; dhanvanah, todana [Sanskrit]


Grewia oppositifolia Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don

Related feed(s) 

Biul (Grewia optiva) is a small multipurpose tree mainly used for fodder, wood, and fuel (Pearson et al., 1932).


Biul is a small to medium-sized tree reaching a height of 13-15 m. The bole can reach 0.8-1m in diameter. The trunk is straight with ashy-white bark. The bark is thick and roughish, peeling in small woody scales. The branches are spreading, young shoots divaricate, rough with stellate tomentum. The leaves are opposite, petiolated, the leaf-blade is tomentose on both sides, rough, ovate to broadly ovate, 3.5-10 cm long x 2-6.5 cm broad . The inflorescence is a cyme bearing 2 to 8 yellowish-red flowers, 3.5 cm in diameter. The fruit is an edible drupe, olive green in colour, then black when ripe ((Flora of Pakistan, 2019; Orwa et al., 2009).


Grewia optiva is an important agro-forestry species it is a multi-purpose tree providing leaf fodder, fibre, and fuelwood (Khosla et al., 1992). It is a most preferred species by the farmers to feed their cattle. The species has a high digestibility and is preferred by livestock (Khosla et al., 1980 cited by Kumar, 2005). Wood is yellowish white or grey with an unpleasant odour, and thus not readily used as firewood. The timber is heavy, fine textured, easy to saw when green but becomes hard and difficult to work when seasoned. It is durable under cover (Kumar, 2005). Biul timber is used for oar shafts, shoulder poles, cot frames, bows, paddles, tools and axe handles and for purposes where strength and elasticity is required. Biul is used in agro-forestry systems in western Himalaya, in combination with horticultural crops like taro (Colocasia esculenta) and turmeric (Curcuma longa) (Bisht et al., 2004).


Biul (Grewia optiva) is reported to occur between 30 and 33° N and 75° to 79 E in Himachal Pradesh forests with Bombax ceiba, Ceitis australis, Acacia species, Toona ciliata and Bauhinia variegata (Kumar, 2005).

Biul (Grewia optiva) grows in subtropical climate, in places where day temperatures are between -2°C and 38°C and where summer and autumn months are dry. The species is found up to an elevation of 1800-2000 m altitude in the north-west Himalayas and in the hills of South India and Burma (Orwa et al., 2009; Gamble, 1972). It can survive himalayan frosts in autumn and winter (Orwa et al., 2009). Biul (Grewia optiva) thrives on sandy loam with adequate moisture but can still grow on a variety of soils (Orwa et al., 2009).

Forage management 

Biul is considered a good forage, particularly valuable during winter months when no other green fodder is available. Green leaves represent about 70 % of the total green weight of branches. They have highest protein content when they are young and during winter and then lose their nutritive value during the rainy season (Orwa et al., 2009).


Leaf fodder yield are variable, ranging from 2.95 to 11 tons (fresh matter)/ha from 2-year-old plants (Mahta et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009). A tree would yield 12-30 kg green fodder yield (Orwa et al., 2009).


Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The leaves have medium to high crude protein content (129 to 170 g/kg DM) according to locations, maturity and season (Hashmi et al., 2014; Singh et al., 2013; Singh et al., 2012; Makkar et al., 1998) and high in vitro DM digestibility (77%) linked to the low NDF content (375 g/kg DM). Biul (Grewia optiva) leaves were reported to contain low total phenols with no tannins (Makkar et al., 1998).


The leaves and young twigs of biul (Grewia optiva) are lopped for fodder. Biul is regarded by local farmers as a valuable fodder for dairy cows and usually preserved for feeding during the winter.

There were no in vivo experiments on ruminants to evaluate the effect biul (Grewia optiva) leaves or other part of the plant on animal performance. An in vitro experiment using rumen liquor of buffaloes compared 17 tree forages and showed that biul leaf meal did not compare favourably with others forages in the degradability tests (Gurung et al., 1996). Later, 2 levels (25 or 50%) of biul (Grewia optiva) leaves with poor quality (average CP content < 3.5% DM) were also tested in vitro with rumen liquor of sheep and goat. For both levels, there was an increase of DM, CP and fibre digestibilities and of rumen fermentation metabolites with both sheep and goat rumen liquor. It was concluded that biul (Grewia optiva) was a good supplement for small ruminants fed on poor quality pasture in silvipastoral systems (Singh et al., 2016; Singh et al., 2015). This was confirmed by later results (Singh et al., 2017).


In India, it was possible to supplement young crossbred Jersey males fed on rice straw with biul (Grewia optiva) leaf meal. The results were similar to those obtained with groundnut meal or with a mixture of biul and groundnut meal (Pachauri et al., 1974).


Lactating buffaloes could be supplemented with biul forage. Their intake of tree forage was about 6kg/day and biul forage resulted in higher milk yield (+0.2 kg milk/day)(Shrestha et al., 1989).


Biul (Grewia optiva) leaves were compared to cotton seed cake and maize oil cake to supplement a sorghum hay-based diet in crossbred wethers (Yasmeen et al., 2007). Biul leaves (16.5% CP) and resulted in lower feed intake than oil cakes but there was no  difference in DM and OM digestibilities. N digestibility was improved by the use of biul leaves and it was concluded that biul forage could be a used as a protein supplement in sheep  (Yasmeen et al., 2007). These results were confirmed by later experiments where biul leaves were also compared to cottonseed cake (Ahmad et al., 2012; Khan et al., 2012c) . Biul (Grewia optiva) leaves provided 16.4% CP and a high Ca and K content (respectively 41 g/kg DM and 89 g/kg DM) to wethers fed on sorghum based diets. Feeding biul leaves increased CP degradability to a lower extent than cottonseed cake, while it increased CP digestibility and N retention similarly. Animal performance (body weight gain and wool yield) were similarly improved by biul leaves and cottonseed cake, confirming that biul leaves good be used a a good and cheap protein source to supplement low quality diet in sheep (Khan et al., 2012c). Another exeperiment reported that biul leaves increased N intake and resulted in the higher N retention (55-60%)  when compared to basal diet or basal diet supplemented with oil cakes (cottonseed cake or maize oil cake). It was concluded that biul (Grewia optiva) leaves could successfully replace oilcakes by improved utilization of basal diet through higher nitrogen intake and retention (Ahmad et al., 2012). 

Biul leaves were fed as a protein supplement (320 g DM) to adult sheep fed on an oat hay basal diet. It had no effect on dietary DM degradability, it reduced oat hay intake but increased total DM intake and N retention (from 4.39 g/d to 7.51 g/d) (Habib et al., 2008).


Biul (Grewia optiva) leaves could also be used as a protein supplement for lactating goats fed on a grass hay based diet or on a maize silage basal diet + grazing native pasture. Biul leaves were compared to cottonseed cake and indian jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana) foliage. CP degradability was lower for biul leaves than for cottonseed cake and indian jujube foliage. DM digestibility of the diet was not affected by the inclusion of biul foliage. N retention and milk yield were increased to a lesser extent than with cottonseed cake or indian jujube. Biul leaves increased milk fat content to 56g /kg milk (Khan et al., 2012a; Khan et al., 2009). Lactating goats fed on chopped soghum hay and on a mixture of cottonseed cake and biul leaves at variable levels (100: 0; 50: 50 or 0; 100) had the highest DM intake, N retention and body weight gain (BWG) at  100 % of biul (Grewia optiva) leaves (Khan et al., 2012b).


Fresh leaves of biul (Grewia optiva) are well appreciated by Angora, meat or wild rabbits (Singh et al., 1986; Sharma et al., 1990; Kumar et al., 2002).

Used as sole feed, biul leaves are well consumed by New Zealand White adult rabbits, for example 70 g daily intake by kg / LW vs 5.9 or 4.9 g for berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum) or white mulberry (Morus alba) leaves respectively (Deshmukh et al., 1989). However, biul leaves alone can not maintain the live weight of adult rabbits (Deshmuk et al., 1990). On the contrary, if offered ad libitum in addition to a concentrate, biul leaves, unlike black locust leaves allow a normal economical wool production of Angora rabbits, for example,  or a normal growth of meat rabbits (Negi et al., 1985; Singh et al., 1987). In Angora or New Zealand White rabbits, the spontaneous level of biul (Grewia optiva) leaves in the total daily DM intake varies from 25% to 40% depending on experimental conditions and on the concentrate distributed simultaneously (Singh et al., 1986; Deshmuk et al., 1990).

Sun dried biul (Grewia optiva) leaves are frequently included in different control diets as source of fibre at a level of 15-20% (Krishna et al, 1990).
In practice, biul leaves, fresh or dried could be used safely in rabbit feeding mainly as a source of proteins (14 to 22% CP in DM) and a source of fibre (40 to 50% NDF). If some information is available on the fibre structure (3 to 8% lignin), no information seems available on the amino acids composition of proteins. The digestible energy content varies largely from one sample to an other, mainly in relation with the origin of the leaves and with their chemical composition (Hashmi et al., 2014, Prajapati , 2015)). On average, the DE content is around 10-11 MJ/kg DM (Lebas 2016). However, when biul leaves are distributed as sole feed, the DE value estimated in adult rabbit is about 20% lower than that measured when leaves are distributed with a concentrate (Desmukh et al., 1990). The situation is the same for the digestibility coefficient of proteins : about 60% when leaves are fed alone vs. 70-80% when leaves are consumed together with different concentrates.

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 13.3 10.1 16.4 2
Crude fibre % DM 15.4 14.1 16.6 2
Ether extract % DM 7.6 6.8 8.4 2
Ash % DM 14.6 14.2 14.9 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.7 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 38.8 35.7 41.8 2
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.5 2.5 2.5 2

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Momin et al., 1943

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:47

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/146 Last updated on March 21, 2019, 13:40