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Prosopis (Prosopis cineraria)


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Common names 
  • South Asia: खेजड़ी (khejri), जांट (jand), जांटी (jandi), सांगरी (sangri), loong [Hindi/Rajasthan/Haryana]; ;जंड (jand) [Punjabi], कांडी (kandi) [Sindh]; वण्णि (vanni) [Tamil]; शमी (shami), सुमरी (sumari) [Gujarati]; జమ్మి (jammi) [Telugu]; جنڈ (jund) [Urdu]
  • Arabic: غاف ر (ghaf)

Adenanthera aculeata Roxb., Mimosa cineraria L., Prosopis spicata Burm., Prosopis spicigera L.


Prosopis cineraria (L.) Druce is a deep-rooted, perennial and multipurpose tree that provides useful fodder for livestock in the drier areas of India and of the Arabian Peninsula. Its bark may be ground into flour and used as food during famines. It provides a wide range of environmental services and is much valued in ethnomedicine.


Prosopis cineraria is an almost evergreen tree growing to 6.5 m in height. It has an open crown that becomes rounded under lopping. The bole is 2 m high, straight, up to 30 cm in diameter. The bark is thick, rough, deeply fissured and cinereous (ash-grey in colour), hence the name of the species. Prosopis cineraria has many internodal thorns, like rose-trees. It has a deep taproot going down to 3 m or even deeper (down to 20 m) (Mahony, 1994). The leaves are pinnately (3 pinnae) compound, petiolated. The leaflets are glabrous or puberulous, borne on 2-7 cm pinnae, in 7-1 pairs. Leafblade is ovate, without nerves, mucronate, 4-15 mm long x 2-4.5 mm broad. The leaflets are green in colour, becoming grey when dry (Duke, 1983). The inflorescence is racemous, 5–13 (-23) cm long, bearing many small (0.6 cm in diameter), yellow-green flowers. The fruit is an elongate, subcylindrical pod, 8-19 cm long x 4-7 mm in diameter. The pods contain 10-25 seeds, oval-shaped and brown-coloured (Pasiecznik et al., 2004; Orwa et al., 2009; Mahony, 1994; Duke, 1983). There may be considerable variation in growth rates, pod size and composition (Pasiecznik et al., 2004).


In drier areas of India and of the Arabian peninsula, Prosopis cineraria is valued for its foliage. It is browsed or lopped several times per year to feed camels, cattle, sheep, goats, horses and donkeys (Afifi et al., 2018; Rani et al., 2013; Yousif, 2012). The pods are edible and used for human consumption in Pakistan, Rajasthan or Oman (Afifi et al., 2018; Ahmad et al., 2014; Raj Bhansali, 2011). They are made into various foods, many being local delicacies such as "sangri" in India. The bark provides food in times of scarcity: it was ground and made into cakes during the Rajputana famine in India (1868-1869), saving lives (Orwa et al., 2009). The wood is valuable to make poles and utensils. It is a good firewood, directly burnt or transformed into charcoal. Prosopis cineraria flowers are attractive to bees that make honey from it. The bark, leaves, pods and flowers have been used in traditional medicine for a long time in India for a wide range of conditions (Pareek et al., 2015). Some bioactive substances extracted from the bark have been assessed in pharmacology and were found to have antihyperlipidemic, antihyperglycemic and antioxidative effects on mice (Sharma et al., 2010). The stem bark was reported to have in vitro anthelmintic activity (Velmurugan et al., 2011). In ethnoveterinary medicine, a leaf paste is used to treat mouth ulcers and a leaf infusion is used to curing open sores on the skin (Khatri et al., 2010). Prosopis cineraria provides many environmental services including shade and shelter, soil improvement, and sand dune fixation. It can be used as an intercropping species (see Environmental impact)(Mahony, 1994). Prosopis cineraria is the state tree of Rajasthan.


Prosopis cineraria originated form the Thar Desert of India and Pakistan. It spread southwards to Tamil Nadu, eastwards to West Bengal, and westwards to Afghanistan and Iran. Isolated populations are found in Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, and it has been introduced to Abu Dhabi and Somalia (Pasiecznik et al., 2004; Mahony, 1994). It is often found scattered in agricultural fields and is an important part of dry zone agroforestry systems in India (Pasiecznik et al., 2004). Prosopis cineraria grows more slowly than other Prosopis species. It performs poorly outside its native range and it is not known to have become naturalised (Pasiecznik et al., 2004).

Prosopis cineraria is found from sea level, up to 600 m alitutude. It grows well where annual rainfall is in the range of 400-800 mm but it is also adapted to very dry conditions (down to 75-250 mm) that prevail on dunes or sandy plains. It can survive drought periods of 6-8 months. Thanks to its deep taproot, the tree is able to extract the water from the water table (Orwa et al., 2009; Pasiecznik et al., 2004; Mahony, 1994). Trees older than 7 years were reported to be able to grow under rainfed management in the United Arab Emirates (AAI News, 1998). However, the sudden death of mature trees has been reported in India, which may have been caused by the overexploitation of ground water for irrigation (Pasiecznik et al., 2004). In arid areas, Prosopis cineraria will preferentially grow on dune lows, followed by sandy plains and dune tops.

Prosopis cineraria grows better where average daily temperatures range from 4°C to 28°C. It is slightly frost hardy (-6°C) and tolerates daily temperatures up to 50°C. It naturally grows on coarse sandy soils but cannot survive a long time on pure sandy soils. It can adapt to a variety of soils provided they allow the taproot to go deep in the soil layers and the soil is well-drained (Orwa et al., 2009; Pasiecznik et al., 2004; Mahony, 1994). Some ecotypes of Prosopis cineraria can grow on very saline soils (Sandison et al., 1991). Its adaptation to soil salinity (up to 11.5 dS/m) could be attributed to a mechanism of ion exchange between roots and leaves (Ramoliya et al., 2006). It does well on (very) alkaline soils as well (Afifi et al., 2018). Prosopis cineraria is a full sunlight species (Orwa et al., 2009).

Forage management 


Prosopis cineraria is a slow growing tree. It can reach 3-5 m high in 5-6 years with an average diameter of 6 cm. A moderate sized tree may yield 45 kg of dry leaf fodder per year. Maximum yields of fodder are obtained when the trees are pollarded every 3 years (Sandison et al., 1991)


Prosopis cineraria readily reproduces by root suckers or by seeds. The seed remains viable during decades. It is hardcoated and thus requires soaking in tepid water during 24 h or scarification prior to sowing. Sowing can be done in nursery and the seedlings transplanted 2-3 months after germination. A tree density of 50-100 trees/ha has been recommended in agroforestry systems and silvopastoral systems. Weeding is necessary during the first year until trees are well established. Early pruning is advised to encourage straight growth. The tree responds well to irrigation, tolerating up to 50% sea water (Sandison et al., 1991). Growth of new foliage, flowering and fruiting occurs during the driest months (March-June) when other plants become leafless and dormant (Orwa et al., 2009)


In India, trees are generally lopped during winter, storing the sun-dried leaves for dry season fodder (Sandison et al., 1991).

Environmental impact 

Pioneer species, sand dune fixation and afforestation of arid areas

Prosopis cineraria can survive in extreme conditions and has been used for sand dune fixation in various projects in Somalia and in the United Arab Emirates (AAI News, 1998; Mahony, 1994). Its taproot can reach the water table and extract water down to 20 m. Studies have suggested that it can absorb moisture through its leaves. Those features made it suitable for afforestation of arid areas (Pasiecznik et al., 2004; AAI News, 1998).


Because of its pioneering ability, Prosopis cineraria is not suitable for planting in riverine areas or subhumid environments where it can become an aggressive colonizer and spread rapidly (Sandison et al., 1991).

Soil improver, intercropping and agroforestry species

Prosopis cineraria is a N-fixing tree that improves the nitrogen status of the soil. In the drier areas, yields of neighbouring crops or grasses were nearly doubled under the canopy of Prosopis cineraria trees (Le Houérou, 1980). The tree does not compete for water as it goes deeper to extract water (Orwa et al., 2009). Nutrient levels (N, P and K), moisture content and organic carbon of soil have been reported to be higher under the tree canopy when compared to the open area (Puri et al., 1994; Le Houérou, 1980). The canopy was favourable to chikpea cultivation within 14 m distance from the trunk (Puri et al., 1994). In arid north-western India, Prosopis cineraria was reported to increase sorghum crop yields on rainfed farmland. It may be the only Prosopis species suited to agro-forestry (Mahony, 1994). It has been recommended for intercropping trials in rainfed areas of Somalia. It could be planted in hedgerows at reduced intervals (1 m) (Mahony, 1994).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 


Prosopis cineraria leaves have a moderate nutritional value, with a protein content about 14% DM, and a high amount of fibre, particularly lignin (more than 20% DM in some cases).


Information on the pods is limited. They are moderate to rich in protein (about to 20% DM) and rich in sugars (24% DM). They also contain fibre (crude fibre 18% DM) (Yousif, 2012; Rathore, 2009).

Potential constraints 

The foliage of Prosopis cineraria is particularly rich in condensed tannins (up to 10% or more). It should be noted that toxicity issues caused by the presence of alkaloids, which have reported in different livestock species fed Prosopis juliflora pods, have not been observed with Prosopis cineraria pods (Mahgoub et al., 2004).


Fresh or dried Prosopis cineraria foliage is an important feed resource for small ruminants and camelids in the drier areas of India and of the Arabic Peninsula. While the leaves are highly palatable and nutritious, they tend to have negative effects of the performance of sheep and goats when given as sole feed, due to their high tannin content. However, when they may be fed to adult sheep as supplements after grazing on a rangeland (Bhatta et al., 2005b) or to goats along with polyethylene glycol (Bhatta et al., 2004). In comparative studies, goats seem more tolerant of Prosopis cineraria tannins: their daily weight gain was higher with the higher Prosopis cineraria level in the diet. Goats could be better adapted to using Prosopis cineraria in their diet than sheep, because their performance were higher than those of sheep (Bhatta et al., 2007; Bohra, 1980).

Intake and digestibility

When Prosopis cineraria leaves were offered as sole feed to adult sheep (Marwari breed 36.6 kg) or goats (Barmer breed 45.7 kg), the dry matter intake (DMI) was 1.88 kg/100 kg BW in sheep and 2.80 kg/100 kg BW in goats (Bohra, 1980). These differences could be explained by the high tannin content of the leaves to which sheep are more sensitive than goats. The dry matter digestibility (DMd) was relatively low and did not differ between animals (41.4 and 48.8 % respectively) whereas protein digestibility was higher for goats than for sheep (38.9 vs 22 %). The digestible and metabolizable energies were also higher in goats than in sheep (Bohra, 1980).

When offered as sole feed to adult Bikaneri camels (369 kg) and compared to a legume straw (Phaseolus aconitifolius), DMI is much lower with Prosopis cineraria (1.56 kg/100 kg BW) than with Phaseolus aconitifolius (2.15 kg/100 kg BW) as well as OM (55.7 vs 69.3 %) and CP (37.9 vs 44.4 %) digestibility. Again, these results are probably due to the high level of condensed tannins in Prosopis (61.8 g/kg DM) compared to Phaseolus (Nagpal et al., 2017).

Due to its high content of condensed tannins, Prosopis cineraria foliage could reduce methane production in the rumen when fed in high proportion with cereal grain (Meena et al., 2017). Leaves included at 50 or 75 % into a diet reduced ciliate protozoa in kids and lambs and increased nitrogen synthesis (Vaithiyanathan et al., 2007). This reduction was higher in kids than in lambs (Vaithiyanathan et al., 2007). Condensed tannins of prosopis leaves inhibit in vitro cellulase activity by 66 to 79 % (Kumar, 1992). This negative effect can be partly eliminated by adding 0.5 % PEG 4000 (Kumar, 1992).

Sheep and goats

All results presented in the table below with small ruminant studies in India. When Prosopis cineraria leaves were offered as sole forage or at high level to young ruminants (kids or lambs), DMI, crude protein digestibility and animal growth were often reduced. However, these negative effects could be overcome by adding small amounts of PEG 4000 or 6000 (polyethylene glycol) which is known to alleviate the negative effects of tannins. Using PEG, costly nitrogen sources could be replaced with Prosopis cineraria leaves without altering animal performance.

In grazing adult rams, supplementation with 200 g DM / d of freshly cut leaves of Prosopis cineraria, Acacia nilotica or Albizia lebbek resulted in higher DM digestibility and the animals maintained their weight unlike the non-supplemented ones. Although Albizia appeared to be nutritionally better compared to Prosopis and Acacia, supplementation of Prosopis had an edge over the other two, because of the better fermentation pattern resulting in minimum loss of N (Bhatta et al., 2005b).

The utilization of Prosopis cineraria pods for feeding livestock in mentioned in the literature (Rani et al., 2013) but information is scarce on the value of the pods for ruminants. One study in Oman found that feeding Prosopis cineraria pods to Omani sheep did not cause overt health problems. The pods could be included at up to 15% in the diet without causing significant effects on body weight gain, feed conversion or carcase characteristics. Sheep fed 30% pods still gained weight but those fed 45% pods lost weight. Negative effects on growth appeared to occur after 6 weeks of feeding Prosopis cineraria pods (Mahgoub et al., 2004).

Country Animal Breed/physiological stage Experiment Level of prosopis in the diet Main results Reference
India Goat Adult Kutchi goats, 50 days in milk producing 470g/d milk Grazing rangeland alone or supplemented with three tree leaves species including prosopis   Higher DMI (1.59 vs 1.36 kg DM/d) and milk yield (574 vs 363 g/day) with tree leaves supplementation Bhatta et al., 2002a
India Goat Adult Kutchi goats, 50 days in milk producing 470g/d milk Grazing rangeland alone or supplemented with three tree leaves species including prosopis   Higher DMI (1.59 vs 1.36 kg DM/d) and milk yield (574 vs 363 g/day) with tree leaves supplementation Bhatta et al., 2002a
India Goat Young growing Marwari kids (11 kg) 3 levels of prosopis included into total mixed diet 25, 50 or 75% Total DMI tended to increase (815-832 g/d) with 50 or 75% compared to 25% (632 g/d); DMd and CPd decreased with increasing Pc level; DWG tended to be higher (126 vs 84-86 g/d) with 50% level

Bhatta et al., 2007

India Goat Adult Barbari male (18.5 kg) Prosopis offered as protein supplement to rice straw based diet about 140 g DM/d Rice straw intake was about 250 g DM/d and animals lose about 10 g/d Dutta et al., 1999
India Goat Young growing Kutchi kids (11 kg, 90 d) Kids fed on natural rangeland plus prosopis leaves with or without 5 g/d of PEG 6000 ad libitum as fresh Including 5 g/kg DM of PEG-6000 increased the DMI of prosopis leaves (0.69 to 0.87 kg/d), CPd (43.6 to 50.4 %) and tends to increase DWG (52.4 to 63.2 g/d) Bhatta et al., 2002b
India Goat Young growing Kutchi kids (11 kg, 90 d) Kids fed with prosopis leaves ad libitum and supplemented with concentrate including high level of protein (HP, 212 g/kg DM) or low level (LP, 126 - 139) + (LP PEG) or -50 g/kg DM PEG 6000 ad libitum as fresh CP level did not change DMI (0.89 vs 0.88 kg/d) but PEG increased DMI from 0.88 to 1.04 kg/d. PEG supplement increased CPd and DWG of LP from 44.4% to 53% and 73 to 85 g/d, as high as HP (54.1% and 85 g/d) Bhatta et al., 2004
India Goat Young growing Sirohi kids (16 kg, 90 d) Total mixed diet (feed blocks) including Pc, with or without 2.5 % PEG 6000 and 16.5% groundnut cake 50% in the total diet PEG-6000 increased total DMI (1.11 to 1.19 kg/d), tends to increase DMd (55.9 to 58.8%) and DWG (72.7 to 84.5 g/d). Feed block without groundnut cake but with PEG 6000 gave the same results (DMI, DMd and DWG) as feed block + groundnut cake. Bhatta et al., 2005a
India Sheep

Young growing Malpura lambs (11 kg)

3 levels of Prosopis included into total mixed diet

25, 50 or 75%

Total DMI tended to increase (839 to 930 g/d) up to 50% level then tended to decrease (758 g/d); DMd and CPd decreased with increasing Prosopis level; DWG decreased by 2 times (57 vs 110-117 g/d) with 75% prosopis compared to 25 or 50%

Bhatta et al., 2007

India Sheep

Adult Malpura rams (39 kg)

Grazing supplemented with concentrate or tree leaves (Acacia nilotica, Albizia lebbek, Prosopis cineraria)

200 g DM/d

Supplemented groups had higher DM digestibility and maintained weight. The group supplemented with Prosopis had lower protein digestibility and a better fermentation pattern.

Bhatta et al., 2005b

India Sheep

Young Omani sheep male (116 d, 24 kg)

4 levels of Prosopis pods in total mixed ration

0, 15, 30 or 45%

Total DMI highly decreases with 30 and over all 45 % pods; at these two levels, sheep do not grow or lose weight (60 g/d) compared to 100 g with 0 or 15% Pc pods.

Mahgoub et al., 2004


Prosopis cineraria leaves are relished by camels. In Cholistan rangelands, leaves of Prosopis cineraria and Acacia nilotica were the most preferred browses for all classes of livestock including camels (Abdullah et al., 2017). In India, camel calves (14-18 month-old) browsing during 7-8 h per day were found to prefer Prosopis cineraria leaves to other foliages and they spent 19% of their time on Prosopis. In comparison to camels fed on guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) hay and moth (Phaseolus aconitifolius) hay, camels browsing had better performance (Bhakat et al., 2009b). It was reported that increasing the level of prosopis leaves in order to replace moth hay in the diet of camels decreased the degradability of DM, OM and NDF after 24 h. The lower degradability could be attributed to the high tannins content of prosopis leaves (Abo-Donia et al., 2015).


Information in the international literature on the use in rabbit feeding of Prosopis cineraria leaves or pods is very scarce (September 2019). Only one paper mentioned the possibility of safe utilization of leaves up to 50% of the diet for growing rabbits (Prasad et al., 1996). As shown in the Ruminants section, fresh or dried foliage of Prosopis cineraria are widely used in those species, and could this be considered as a potential forage of moderate value for rabbit feeding. However, its high level of tannins may limit protein digestibility as it is observed for ruminants (Kumar et al., 2017; Riveros, 1992).

Prosopis cineraria pods could be considered as source of energy due to their protein content and high sugar content (Yousif, 2012; Rathore, 2009). However, direct experiments would be necessary to determine the optimal inclusion rate and the role of Prosopis cineraria tannins on the digestibility of rabbit diets.


Feeding bluespot mullet (Crenimugil seheli Forsskål, 1775) fry with a diet containing 10 to 30% of ground Prosopis cineraria pods as a partial replacement for wheat flour resulted in poor survival, growth and feed efficiency, probably due to the presence of tannins and other antinutritional factors (Yousif, 2012).

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 47.3   45.1 50.2 4  
Crude protein % DM 13.9 2.6 8.3 17.9 13  
Crude fibre % DM 20.5   14.3 31.5 4  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 50.6 4.8 44 56.7 10  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 34.4 7.4 21.4 46.4 11  
Lignin % DM 18.4 5.1 9.9 24.3 8  
Ether extract % DM 3.5 1.9 1.3 6.3 7  
Ash % DM 10 2.4 5.2 13.9 11  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.1         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 20.8   15.1 26.5 2  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3.7   2.4 4.9 2  
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 80   70 100 2  
Tanins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 110 20 90 130 6  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 46.3   42.9 49.6 2  
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 44.2         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 8         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 6.5         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 30.5   22 38.9 2  
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 47.7         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 36.7         *

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


Abdullah et al., 2017; Abo-Donia et al., 2015; Agrawal et al., 2016; Bhatt et al., 2016; Bhatta et al., 2002; Bhatta et al., 2005; Bhatta et al., 2005; Bhatta et al., 2007; Bohra, 1980; Dutta et al., 1999; Mahgoub et al., 2004; Makkar et al., 1998; Sen, 1938

Last updated on 04/11/2019 12:20:33

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 90.1       1  
Crude protein % DM 19.2   15.1 23.2 2  
Crude fibre % DM 18.1   16.2 20 2  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 37.9         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 23.2         *
Ether extract % DM 1.4   0.8 2 2  
Ash % DM 8.2       1  
Total sugars % DM 23.8       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.2         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 4.1       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 190       1  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 72.1         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 68.9         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.5         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.1         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 58.2         *
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 10.6         *

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


Rathore, 2009; Yousif, 2012

Last updated on 04/11/2019 17:58:01

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2019. Prosopis (Prosopis cineraria). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/261 Last updated on November 4, 2019, 19:05