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Bhimal (Grewia optiva)


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Common names 

Bhimal, biul, beul, bhiunal, dhaman, bihul, भीमल, भ्युल [Hindi]; ghotli, shyalphusro [Nepali]; dhanvanah, todana [Sanskrit]


Grewia oppositifolia Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don

Related feed(s) 

Bhimal (Grewia optiva J. R. Drumm. ex Burret) is a small multipurpose tree from India and Nepal mainly used for fodder, wood, and fuel.


Grewia optiva 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 with blades 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). In its native range, it is one of the 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 it becomes hard and difficult to work when seasoned. It is durable under cover (Kumar, 2005). 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. Bhimal 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).


Grewia optiva occurs 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). It grows in subtropical climate, where day temperatures are between -2°C and 38°C and where summer and autumn months are dry. Bhimal 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. It thrives on sandy loam with adequate moisture but can still grow on a variety of soils (Orwa et al., 2009).

Forage management 

Bhimal is considered a good forage, particularly valuable during winter 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).


Fodder yield is variable, ranging from 2.95 to 11 t/ha of fresh fodder ha from 2-year-old plants (Mehta et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Bhimal leaves have medium to high crude protein content (12 to 24% DM) according to locations, maturity and season (Hashmi et al., 2014; Singh et al., 2013; Singh et al., 2012; Makkar et al., 1998). Leaves were reported to contain low amounts of condensed tannins (Makkar et al., 1998).


Grewia optiva leaves are lopped for fodder. The tree is regarded by local farmers as a valuable fodder for dairy cows and usually preserved for feeding during the winter.

Digestibility and degradability

A digestibility trial carried out in India reported OM digestibility values of 65-66% on sheep (Sharma et al., 1966). In sacco trials on sheep and goats found effective degradability values for N of 67-68% (Khan et al., 2009; Khan et al., 2012c). An in vitro experiment using rumen liquor of buffaloes compared 17 tree forages and showed that bhimal leaf meal did not compare favourably with others forages in the DM and N degradability tests (Gurung et al., 1996). Bhimal leaves mixed (25% and 50%) with poor quality grass (Dichantium annulatum and Heteropogon contortus) were tested in vitro with rumen liquor of sheep and goats, resulting in an increase of DM, CP and fibre digestibilities and of rumen fermentation metabolites. It was concluded that bhimal 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 bhimal leaves. The results were similar to those obtained with groundnut meal or with a mixture of bhimal and groundnut meal (Pachauri et al., 1974). Grewia optiva was reported to be much valued as a fodder in Northern Pakistan, tough only mature leaves were relished (Momin et al., 1943).


Lactating buffaloes supplemented with bhimal fodder consumed about 6 kg/day of tree leaves, resulting in a higher milk yield (+0.2 kg milk/day)(Shrestha et al., 1989).


Grewia optiva leaves were compared to cotton seed cake and maize oil cake to supplement a sorghum hay-based diet in crossbred wethers. They 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 bhimal leaves and it was concluded that this forage could be a used as a protein supplement in sheep (Yasmeen et al., 2007). These results were confirmed by later experiments where the leaves were also compared to cottonseed cake (Ahmad et al., 2012; Khan et al., 2012c). Bhimal leaves increased N degradability to a lower extent than cottonseed cake, while it increased N digestibility and N retention similarly. Animal performance (body weight gain and wool yield) was similarly improved by bhimal leaves and cottonseed cake, confirming that bhimal leaves can be used a a good and cheap protein source to supplement low quality diets in sheep (Khan et al., 2012c). Another exeperiment reported that bhimal leaves increased N intake and resulted in the higher N retention (55-60%) when compared to basal diet or basal diet supplemented with oil cottonseed cake or maize oil cake. It was concluded that Grewia optiva leaves could successfully replace oil cakes by improving the utilization of basal diet through higher nitrogen intake and retention (Ahmad et al., 2012).

Bhimal leaves given as a protein supplement (320 g DM) to adult sheep fed on an oat hay basal diet had no effect on dietary DM degradability. They 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).


Grewia optiva leaves could 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. When compared to cottonseed cake and indian jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana) foliage, bhimal leaves had a lower N degradability. DM digestibility of the diet was not affected by the inclusion of bhimal foliage. N retention and milk yield were increased to a lesser extent than with cottonseed cake or indian jujube. Bhimal 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 bhimal leaves at variable levels (100: 0; 50: 50 or 0; 100) had the highest DM intake, N retention and body weight gain at 100 % of bhimal leaves (Khan et al., 2012b).


Fresh Grewia optiva leaves 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, bhimal 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). While bhimal leaves alone can not maintain the live weight of adult rabbits (Deshmukh et al., 1990), they can be offered ad libitum in addition to a concentrate, and, unlike black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) leaves, they can result in normal economical wool production of Angora rabbits, for example, or in normal growth of meat rabbits (Negi et al., 1985; Singh et al., 1987). In Angora or New Zealand White rabbits, the voluntary intake of Grewia optiva leaves in the total daily DM intake varies from 25% to 40% depending on experimental conditions and on the concentrate (Singh et al., 1986; Deshmukh et al., 1990).

Sun-dried bhimal leaves are frequently included in different control diets as source of fibre at a level of 15-20% (Krishna et al., 1990). In practice, bhimal leaves, fresh or dried, could be used safely in rabbit feeding mainly as a source of proteins and a source of fibre. 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., 2014Prajapati, 2015). On average, the DE content is around 10-11 MJ/kg DM (Lebas, 2016). However, when bhimal 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 (Deshmukh 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

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 47.2 7.6 27.3 59.6 35  
Crude protein % DM 17.7 2.8 11.5 24.4 102  
Crude fibre % DM 18.9 1.8 14.1 21.5 93  
Ether extract % DM 4.5 1.1 1.6 8.4 97  
Ash % DM 11.5 1.4 7.4 14.9 103  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 42.6 8.6 34.2 57.9 14 *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 27.2 6.2 24.2 47.8 14 *
Lignin % DM 6.4 1.8 3.6 8.6 6  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.2         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 34.9 6 27.5 41.8 6  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.4 1 1.4 4 5  
Manganese mg/kg DM 129   57 202 2  
Zinc mg/kg DM 44   41 47 2  
Copper mg/kg DM 6       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 94   32 155 2  
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 40       1  
Tanins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 1   0.6 2 3  
In vitro digestibility and solubility Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
In vitro DM digestibility (pepsin) % 67   62 77 3  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.4         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.2         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 62.9         *
OM digestibility, ruminants % 65.8   65.4 66.2 2  
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 72.4   72.4 72.5 2  
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=6%) % 67   67 68 2 *
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=4%) % 74   73 74 2 *
a (N) % 17   17 17 2  
b (N) % 76   76 76 2  
c (N) h-1 0.12   0.12 0.12 2  
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 9.6         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 52.9         *

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


Ahmad et al., 2012; Dey et al., 2006; Habib et al., 2008; Hashmi et al., 2014; Inam-Ur-Rahim et al., 2011; IVRI, 2011; Khan et al., 2009; Khan et al., 2012; Makkar et al., 1998; Momin et al., 1943; Pandey et al., 2017; Prajapati, 2015; Sahoo et al., 2010; Sankhyan et al., 2016; Sharma et al., 1966; Singh et al., 1989; Singh et al., 2012; Sultan et al., 2008

Last updated on 15/07/2019 01:07:35

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2019. Bhimal (Grewia optiva). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/146 Last updated on July 15, 2019, 1:15