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Afzelia (Afzelia africana)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Afzelia, lucky-bean tree, African oak, African mahogany [English]; Doussié, lingué [French]; Chanfuta [Portuguese], uvala, mussacossa [Portuguese Angola & Mozambique]; kpakpatin, pakpajide [Fon]; kawo [Hausa], apa [Yoruba]; akpalata [Igbo]; gayoki [Fulani]; papao [Ghana]


Intsia africana (Sm. ex Pers.) Kuntze; Pahudia africana (Sm. ex Pers.) Prain

Feed categories 
Related feed(s) 

Afzelia africana Sm. ex Pers. is a tropical African tree, medium to large, deciduous, up to 40 m high. It is mostly used for its high-grade timber but has good potential to provide fodder for livestock and food. Afzelia africana is a multipurpose tree suitable for use in agroforestry systems. It has been considered to be vulnerable because of pressure put by wood exploitation but also because of poor regeneration of stands due to browsing animals or intensive lopping.


Afzelia africana can grow up to 30-40 m high in forests and up to 10-18 m in savannah (Orwa et al., 2009). It is taprooted but also develops secondary roots that explore the first centimetres of the soil (Bationo et al., 2011). The trunk has small unequal buttresses at his base (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009). The trunk is straight, cylindrical, branchless up to 20 m high and can reach 1-1.8 m in diameter above buttresses (Donkpegan et al., 2014). The bark is 2 cm thick, scaly, very aromatic, grey to dark brown in colour. The crown is large, spreading. Its shape (flat or rounded) depends on age and growing conditions (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009). The branches are tortuous, more or less upright, branchlets are glabrous with lenticels.The leaves are alternate, petiolated, paripinnate, up to 30 cm long with 7-17 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are opposite, elliptic to ovate-elliptic in shape, 5-15 cm long x 3-8.5 cm broad. The inflorescence is a terminal or axillary panicle, 3-13 cm long. The flowers are sweet scented, white to yellowish, zygomorphous bearing 5 petals among which one is 1.5 cm x 1 cm, red striped, and the other 4 are very minute. Afzelia africana flowers in the rainy season. 

The fruit requires 6 months to ripen. It is an oblong, straight flattened, dehiscent pod, 10-20 cm long x 5-8 cm broad, brown to black in colour. Pods can remain on the tree 6 months after ripening. Each pod contains several potentially toxic seeds, 2-3 cm long, inserted in a conspicuous edible bright orange aril covering one third of their length. The other 2/3 of the seed are black. Seeds are spread by birds which feed on the arils (Gérard et al., 2011).


Afzelia africana is considered to be one ot the most important woody fodder plant in many parts of Africa. Its foliage is reported to be good for cattle particularly during the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season when grass has not grown yet and other forages are rare (Gérard et al., 2011; Ikhimioya et al., 2007).

Afzelia africana leaves, fruits and seeds are browsed by wildlife animals, and many parts of the tree are edible. The leaves can be cooked and used as vegetables while young leaves are mixed with ground cereals before cooking. The flowers are used as condiment in sauces and the seed aril is reported to be sweet. The seed is rich in protein and oil. It is possible to make flour out the seed and to use it in mixture with wheat flour in order to increase protein value (Gérard et al., 2011; Ejikeme et al., 2010). Due to the presence of a water-soluble gum (xyloglucan), the seed is used as a thickening agent for soup in South-Eastern parts of Nigeria though it is reported to have some toxicity (Igwenyi et al., 2010).

The oil has long shelf-life, contains valuable PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and can be used for cooking (Gérard et al., 2011; Ejikeme et al., 2010). The oil of Afzelia africana is reported to be a semi-drying oil that can have industrial applications in surface coatings of alkyd resins (Gérard et al., 2011; Ejikeme et al., 2010). The coproduct of oil extraction is a seed cake that can be fed to livestock.

Afzelia africana is mainly used for its heavy wood, which is light brown to red brown in colour, durable, termite-proof, and of high quality (dimensional stability and durability). It does not require treatment prior to usage in permanent humid conditions or in places where insects are abundant. It can compare to high grade timbers like teak or merbau and is used for carpentry, canoes, house building, panelling, parquet floors, doors, frames stairs and many types of furniture and kitchen utensils. Afzelia Africana wood makes good firewood and charcoal. It is used as an ornamental and for rituals, and considered a fetish tree in many regions (Gérard et al., 2011).

This species has been considered vulnerable due to the pressure put by wood exploitation (IUCN, 1998).


Afzelia africana is widespread from the West Coast of Africa (Senegal) to East Africa, including Sudan, Uganda and Congo (Ecocrop, 2018; Gérard et al., 2011; Brenan, 1967).

Afzelia africana is found in wooded savannah, dense dry forests, and dense semi-deciduous forests in moister areas. It is found from sea level up to 1370 m where annual rainfall is (900-) 1200-1800 mm and where annual average temperature ranges from 20 to 35ºC. It can grow in depressions prone to regular flooding but also on steep slopes, on a wide variety of soils ranging from sandy to ferralitic as well as calcareous ones. In drier areas, Afzelia africana does better on deep, well-drained moist soils and on termite mounds (Ecocrop, 2018; Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009; Brenan, 1967). Afzelia africana is fairly fire-resistant in the driest sites, but when occuring in dense forests it is susceptible to occasional fires. Afzelia africana population could decrease at the expense of more fire-resistant species (Ecocrop, 2018; Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009; Brenan, 1967).

Forage management 

Afzelia africana has a poor regeneration rate due to fires and predation of seedlings by animals. The seeds can survive at least 3 years provided they have no more than 8% moisture and are kept in airtight containers. They should be sown no deeper than 2 cm with hilum facing downwards. To prevent predation and fires, the seeds can be sown in nurseries either in pots or in holes (40 cm in diameter and 40 cm depth). After germination, the seedlings should be planted after 3-4 months and the young trees should be protected against browsing animals and fires for 2-3 years. Afzelia africana is a quick growing tree: its diameter increases by 1.5 cm every year during the 17 first years (Gérard et al., 2011). The tree can be coppiced and pollarded to provide fodder to cattle (Gérard et al., 2011).

Environmental impact 

Endangered species

Afzelia africana has been considered vulnerable due to the pressure put by wood exploitation but also by cattle in some places like North-Cameroun where it is one of the most important forage tree (Onana et al., 2002; IUCN, 1998). It is also referred to be endangered in Mali, Burkina-Faso, Nigeria and Benin (Sinsin et al., 2004; Bonou et al., 2009).

Soil improver and soil cover

As an N-fixing tree, Afzelia africana improves soil fertility and its N and mineral-rich leaves that fall on the ground or that are mulched provide both nutrient and soil cover, thus reducing erosion (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009).

Shade provider, living barrier

Afzelia Africana provides shade and shelter to hunters waiting for wildlife. It is planted as barrier for property demarcation in villages where it is valued as timber (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 


The composition of Afzelia africana is highly variable depending on the season. For instance, in Burkina Faso, afzelia browse contained 9-12% DM of protein in the cool season (October-December) and more than 21% in the late dry season (April-June) (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2008a).


Afzelia africana seeds are primarily rich in oil (24-43% DM) and protein (16-31% DM), with a rather low content in fibre (< 8% DM). The seeds contains about 30% non-structural carbohydrates consisting mostly of xyloglucan, a water-soluble non-starch polysaccharide (Ren et al., 2005; Onyechi et al., 2007; Builders et al., 2009).

Potential constraints 


Afzelia seeds have been shown to contain alkaloids and other antinutritional metabolites (Igwenyi et al., 2014). The slightly detrimental effect of afzelia seeds on poultry has been attributed to the presence of alkaloids and phytates (Ayanwale et al., 2007), but the presence of a water-soluble gum (xyloglucan) that becomes viscous when hydrated could be another explanation, particularly in poultry.


Afzelia africana is among the most important browse trees in agrosilvopastoral ecosystems in West Africa because of the high nutritive value of its foliage as livestock fodder (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2008). It can be browsed, distributed as a supplement or as a sole feed to ruminants, enabling satisfying livestock performance.


Pastoralists interviewed in North Benin considered Afzelia africana to be of high quality for milk, and to a lesser extent for meat production (Tamou et al., 2018). Afzelia africana was among the most consumed browse trees by cattle with Kaya senegalensis and Dichrostachys cinerea in shrub and tree savannah in the sub-humid areas of West Africa (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2006). Similarly, its abundance in the Sudanian zone of Burkina Faso makes this species one of the most frequently used by cattle during the hot dry season. During this period of the year, herders cut branches of these trees to feed their animals, thus increasing browse use. Cattle ingest the available pods during the cool dry season (Zampaligré et al., 2013).


Afzelia africana foliage may be a good source of energy for sheep due to its high DM and NDF digestibility. It can be used as sole feed due to its high DM, which was higher than that of other browse species (598 vs 292-571 g/d) fed alone (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2008b; Merkel et al., 1999). When offered as a supplement to a diet based on hay and maize bran, Afzelia africana offered ad libitum supported satisfying growth rate (63 g/d) and carcass characteristics (weight and composition) (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2009).


In a cafeteria trial with several browse tree species, Afzelia africana was the most preferred foliage by goats, in relation with its highest protein content, lowest phytate content and extremely low content in condensed tannins (Okunade et al., 2014). When offered as a supplement to a threshed sorghum top-based diet, most nutritional parameters (intake, DM, condensed tannins, and most of the nutrients, as well as digestibilities of DM, protein and non-fibre carbohydrate, N absorbed, N balance and N retention) were greater with Afzelia africana than with other fodders (Isah et al., 2015).


There is no literature available on the use of Afzelia africana by camels (as of December 2018).



Litterature about the use of Afzelia africana seeds for poultry is extremely scarce. A 9-week trial in Nigeria with broilers (starters and finishers) concluded that afzelia seeds could be fed as a source of protein to broilers. However, feeding raw or toasted seeds (up to 12% in the diet) depressed feed intake, body weight gain, apparent nutrient digestibility and profit margin of the broilers. Toasted seeds gave a slightly better performance (+3.6% in final weight) than raw seeds but profit margin was higher only in finishers (Ayanwale et al., 2007).



Afzelia africana leaves are largely used to feed ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats) in the Sahelian and other semi-dry parts of Africa (see Ruminants section). However, no information seems available in the international literature (October 2018) on their utilisation in rabbit feeding. Since no performance impairment has been described for ruminants, it could be considered as suitable for rabbit diets, though direct experiments would be welcome.


Literature on the use of Afzelia africana seeds in rabbit feeding is very scarce: only two publications seem available (Yusuf et al., 2011; Handlos, 2018). They can be included in growing rabbit diets but actual incorporation levels are yet to be determined. As seen in the Poultry section, toasting is possible but results in minimal improvement.

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 49.5 10.7 30 66.6 26  
Crude protein % DM 17.8999996185303 4.8 9.8 29.9 33  
Crude fibre % DM 30.7000007629395 3.3 24.2 36.4 17  
Ether extract % DM 7.40000009536743 2.8 2.4 12.6 19  
Ash % DM 8.69999980926514 2.6 6.1 16.4 24  
Insoluble ash % DM 0.699999988079071       1  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 53.9000015258789 6 37.1 61.8 31  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 36 4.3 24.5 42.7 31  
Lignin % DM 15 3.3 5.4 20.6 29  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 19.7999992370605       1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 9.69999980926514 4.9 3.1 15.1 6  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3.09999990463257 1.7 1.6 6.7 7  
Magnesium g/kg DM 5.09999990463257   4.6 6.1 4  
Potassium g/kg DM 12.1000003814697 3.7 9.2 18.4 5  
Sodium g/kg DM 2.99999993294477E-02       1  
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tanins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 10 20 0 40 5  
In vitro digestibility and solubility Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
In vitro DM digestibility (pepsin-cellulase) % 53 2 47 56 14  
In vitro OM digestibility (pepsin-cellulase) % 50 3 45 54 13  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.3000001907349         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 57.2000007629395         *
OM digestibility, ruminants % 59.7999992370605       1 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 79       1  

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


Bayer, 1990; CIRAD, 1991; Ikhimioya et al., 2007; Isah et al., 2015; Okunade et al., 2014; Olafadehan et al., 2018; Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2008; Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2008; Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2009; Zampaligré et al., 2013

Last updated on 03/07/2019 11:44:11

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 93.7 2 89.5 95.6 7  
Crude protein % DM 24.3 7.5 15.7 31.4 7  
Crude fibre % DM 5.3   3.3 7.9 4  
Ether extract % DM 33.9 6.2 23.5 43 7  
Ash % DM 3.4 1 2.7 5.6 7  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 13.2         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 6.3         *
Lignin % DM 0.4         *
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 25.5   25.3 26.1 2 *
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Lysine g/16g N 3.5       1  
Threonine g/16g N 3       1  
Methionine g/16g N 1.4       1  
Cystine g/16g N 1.3       1  
Methionine+cystine g/16g N 2.7         *
Tryptophan g/16g N 0.9          
Isoleucine g/16g N 4.1       1  
Valine g/16g N 4.1       1  
Leucine g/16g N 7.2       1  
Phenylalanine g/16g N 4.5       1  
Tyrosine g/16g N 3.3       1  
Phenylalanine+tyrosine g/16g N 7.8         *
Histidine g/16g N 3       1  
Arginine g/16g N 5.9       1  
Alanine g/16g N 1.4       1  
Aspartic acid g/16g N 9.7       1  
Glycine g/16g N 3.6       1  
Serine g/16g N 2.7       1  
Proline g/16g N 3.4       1  
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 3.8   0.4 5.6 3  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.8   0.6 2.6 3  
Magnesium g/kg DM 0.7       1  
Potassium g/kg DM 0.6       1  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.28       1  
Manganese mg/kg DM 2       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 9       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 93       1  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 19.7         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 95.4         *
OM digestibility, ruminants % 92.3         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 78.1         *
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=6%) % 88          
Dry matter degradability (effective, k=6%) % 72          
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 20.8         *
MEn growing pig MJ/kg DM 14.5         *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 10.6         *
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 81.7         *
Nitrogen digestibility, growing pig % 92.1         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 21.3         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 20.2         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 83.5         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 85.8         *

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


Ayanwale et al., 2007; Bolanle, 2010; Ejikeme et al., 2010; Madubuike et al., 1994

Last updated on 03/07/2019 11:48:24

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Edouard N., Lebas F., 2019. Afzelia (Afzelia africana). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/24689 Last updated on July 1, 2019, 15:42