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Albizia (Albizia amara)


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

Albizia, kaunthia, oil cake tree, bitter albizia [English]; Bittervalsdoring [Afrikaans]; mulalantete, chibombwesala, mulalantanga, mwikalankanga [Chibemba]; mukangala [Lozi]; kasongu [Lunda]; nyele, mkalanga, nsengwa [Nyanja]; gissrip [Somali]; nefasha, chigono [Tigrigna]; kankumbwila [Tongan]; muvola [Zulu]; कृष्ण सिरिस [Hindi]; വരച്ചി [Malayalam]


Acacia amara Willd., Acacia nellyrenza Wight & Arn., Acacia wightii Wight & Arn., Mimosa amara Roxb., Mimosa pulchella Roxb.

Feed categories 
Related feed(s) 

Albizia amara (Roxb.) B. Boivin is a tropical tree from the dry areas of East Africa and India, used as fodder for livestock.


Albizia amara is a small to medium-sized, deciduous, acacia-like tree, (3-) 6-13 m high. It is many-branched and forms a wide, dense and rounded crown. The bark is thin, rough, scaly and  variable in colour (IBP, 2016; Orwa et al., 2009). The root system is shallow and spreading (Orwa et al., 2009). Young shoots, branchlets and leaves are pubescent. Leaves are paripinnate, 10-20 cm long, bearing 10-40 pairs of pinnulae with about 15-30 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are minute, about 2-7 mm x 0.5-2 mm, elliptic and sparsely ciliate. The flowers are white, cream, or pinkish-white in colour, and fragrant. They are grouped in showy globulous clusters, 2.5 cm in diameter. During flowering, the trees resemble cherry trees in blossom (FAO, 2016). Fruits are indehiscent, flat, straight pods. They are 10-24 cm long and 2.5-4 cm wide and greyish brown in colour. They contain 6-13 compressed, ovate, hard-coated, brown seeds (IBP, 2016; Orwa et al., 2009). 


Albizia amara is a multipurpose tree of which many parts are used. The wood is hard, fine grained and strong. It is used for construction, agricultural implements, and furniture. It is a good firewood that can be directly burnt or made into charcoal. The fruit is inedible and the seeds are alleged to be poisonous. Leaves are sometimes used as an adulterant for tea. They can be dried and ground to make soap and shampoo (IBP, 2016; Orwa et al., 2009). Albizia amara provides a wide range of environmental services: it is an N-fixing species, a controller of soil erosion, and it is used as a wind break and shade provider for tea and coffee plantations. It is a source of nectar for bees and is used in urban areas as an ornamental tree (Orwa et al., 2009). The leaves are used as fodder for cattle, sheep and goats, though they are less palatable than other forages (Orwa et al., 2009). In ethnoveterinary medicine, preparations of leaves in mixture with other foliages are used to cure mastitis, and mites and ticks infestations in cows (Reddy, 2010).


Albizia amara is widespread in Africa, from Chad, Sudan and Ethiopia to Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. In India, the tree is characteristic of drier regions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka (Ecocrop, 2016). Albizia amara is found in deciduous acacia forests from foothills at 400 m and up to an altitude of 900-1500 m. It grows on cliffs and rocky habitats in places where day temperatures range from 10°C to 47°C (Orwa et al., 2009). It does better in well-drained light soils but can also grow on clays along river banks where it can get more moisture. However, Albizia amara is very hardy and highly tolerant of drought. It grows in places where annual rainfall is between 400 and 1000 mm but tolerates as little as 150 mm. Albizia amara requires full sunlight and is intolerant of shade (IBP, 2016; Orwa et al., 2009). 

Forage management 

Albizia amara can readily reproduce from coppices. The seeds can also be sown on field borders. They should be soaked in boiling water prior to planting (IBP, 2016). Albizia amara is a slow growing species that has poor competitiveness. It can be used in agroforestry systems. In India, Indonesia and other countries of South-East Asia, it is intercropped with maize, cassava and trees like papaya, mango or orange. In India, Albizia amara was reported to potentially yield about 6 t green matter/ha (Devendra et al., 1995). The trees can be lopped for the provision of forage in cut-and-carry systems, or they could be browsed by sheep and goats without hampering trees survival (Rai et al., 1998). Albizia amara sheds its leaves for 2-3 months during winter. 

Environmental impact 

Reclamation and erosion control

Albizia amara is an N-fixing tree and its spreading root system helps binding the soil. It is reported to be effective for the afforestation of degraded hilly areas in arid and semi-arid areas, in combination with Acacia catechu, Acacia planifrons, Anogeissus latifolia and Azadirachta indica (Orwa et al., 2009).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Albizia amara leaves have a high protein content but also high NDF and lignin contents which limit their digestibility. During the dry period, the protein content decreases and the lignin content increases (Berhane et al., 2006). This forage could be an interesting source of protein (13-15% to 20-25%) according to the season. The very high lignin content must be stressed: 12 to 25% according to season and authors with, in addition, a high level of tannins (Amanullah et al., 2006; Berhane et al., 2006; Ondiek et al., 2010). The leaves are relatively low in calcium and phosphorus compared to other browse species (Berhane et al., 2006).

Potential constraints 

Digestive problems

In Ethiopia, farmers reported some digestive problems in cattle, sheep and goats fed on Albizia amara pods (Aregawi et al., 2008).


Albizia amara leaves were reported to contain 8% total polyphenols and 4% total extractable tannins (Ondiek et al., 2010).



Albizia amara is browsed by domestic ruminants including cattle, sheep, goats and camels (Aregawi et al., 2008; Berhane et al., 2006; Melaku et al., 2010), as well as by wild animals such as rhinos and elephants (Ndlovu et al., 2009; Sukumar, 1990). Albizia amara leaves can be browsed or cut for use in cut-and-carry systems. The leaves, though not very palatable, are eaten from lopped or browsed branches when better liked browse is not available (Rai et al., 1998). The use of Albizia amara leaves in association with leaves from Dichrostachys cinerea and Leucaena leucocephala improved lamb and kid growth by 33% in comparison to pasture grazing. However, the individual effect of albizia leaves was not assessed (Rai et al., 1997). In vitro gas production from leaves was low (the lowest of 20 species assessed in Ethiopia), suggesting low digestible and metabolizable energy contents for ruminants (Ondiek et al., 2010; Berhane et al., 2006).


The flowers are very palatable and are picked up from the ground by goats (Göhl, 1982). 


The mature pods are eaten by game and stock but were reported to cause digestive problems (Aregawi et al., 2008).


No publications seem available in the international literature on the use of Albizia amara leaves in domestic rabbit feeding (October 2016). However, the leaves of Albizia amara are eaten by many species of animals, including macaques (Krishnamani, 1994), and are probably a potential source of forage for rabbit feeding. Nevertheless, some direct studies would be useful. This forage could be a valuable source of protein, but calculated N digestibility is only 40%. It could be a moderate source of energy with a calculated content of digestible energy of about 8.5-9.0 MJ/kg DM (Lebas, 2016). The lignin content of albizia is valuable for rabbit feeding because of the high level of lignin recommended for weaned rabbits (more than 5.5%) (Gidenne, 2015). Another useful characteristic of Albizia amara is its antimicrobial and antifungal activity (Baltazary et al., 2010; Thippeswamy et al., 2014).

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 36.7       1  
Crude protein % DM 18.7 3.5 16.6 24.7 5  
Crude fibre % DM 22.8       1  
NDF % DM 46.0 22.9 13.2 66.5 6  
ADF % DM 44.5 10.7 28.4 58.6 6  
Lignin % DM 24.0 11.9 11.2 41.0 6  
Ether extract % DM 3.3       1  
Ash % DM 10.2 6.8 4.7 20.6 7  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.2         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 8.0   8.0 8.0 2  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.5   1.5 1.5 2  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.5       1  
Magnesium g/kg DM 3.7       1  
Manganese mg/kg DM 15       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 20       1  
Copper mg/kg DM 19       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 123       1  
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 104.6 56.3 43.9 155.0 3  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 46.9         *
OM digestibility, ruminants (gas production) % 35       1  
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 43.9         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.0         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 6.4         *

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


Amanullah et al., 2006; Berhane et al., 2006; Melaku et al., 2010; Ondiek et al., 2010; Weldemariam et al., 2015

Last updated on 19/09/2016 16:36:44

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 90.6       1  
Crude protein % DM 13.7       1  
Crude fibre % DM 35.2       1  
Ether extract % DM 7.5       1  
Ash % DM 4.3       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 20.4         *
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 82.9         *

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


Walker, 1975

Last updated on 19/09/2016 15:28:55

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Lebas F., 2016. Albizia (Albizia amara). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://feedipedia.org/node/337 Last updated on October 17, 2016, 19:40

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant)