Wild Plants of Pakistan








A small to moderate-sized tree, evergreen or nearly so, with an open crown, bark grey, reaching a height of 10 – 12 m and a girth of 1.0 – 1.5 m, sending its roots many feet into the ground; commonly known as Safed-Kikar, Kandi or Jand in Sindhi / Urdu whereas, Ghaf in Arabic. It is a native to arid portions of Western and South Asia, such as the Arabian and Thar Deserts. It is widely distributed in West Pakistan (Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan); India; Afghanistan; Persia and Arabia. It is the provincial tree of the Sindh province (wikipedia.org). Flowers are creamy white in pedunculate spikes, pods 12.5 – 25 cm long, bearing dull brown, oblong, compressed, 10 – 15 seeds, flowering from December to March.

Prosopis cineraria is extremely hardy and drought tolerant, growing in areas with as little as 75 mm annual rainfall, with dry seasons of eight months or more, it is tolerant of temperatures up to 50o C, it is found in alluvial and coarse, sandy, often alkaline soils where the pH may reach 9.8. Prosopis cineraria is a versatile species, providing fodder, fuel food, timber, and shade, as well as enhancing the fertility of the soil and sand dune stabilization, it is commonly used in dryland agroforestry in India and Pakistan. Yields of sorghum or millet increased when grown under P. cineraria, as a result of higher organic matter content, total nitrogen, available phosphorus, soluble calcium, and lower pH. The tree is a strong light demander.

The wood is suitable for interior construction work, such as columns, roofs, doors and windows and for wheels and hub of carts, agricultural implements, tool handles, small turnery articles and well-curbs. It is also a source of fuel and is used for making charcoal. Its wood is favoured for cooking and domestic heating. The wood ash which contains 31 % of soluble potassium salts may be used as a source of potash. The leaves are much lopped for fodder. They are also used for green manuring as it contains Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and Calcium.

The pods are used for fodder and the sweetish pulp around the seeds is eaten green or dry, raw or cooked. The bark has a sweetish taste. It is reported that during the severe famine of Rajputana in 1868 – 1869, many lives were saved by the use of bark as a source of food; it was ground into flour and made into cakes. The bark as well as the galls, formed on the leaves, used for tanning, the tree also exudes a gum, which resembles the mesquite gum, from the cut ends of branches.

The flowers are pounded and mixed with sugar, and eaten by women during pregnancy to safeguard them against miscarriage. The flowers are also valuable in honey production. The ashes are rubbed over the skin to remove hairs. The pods are considered to possess astringent, demulcent and pectoral properties. The bark is dry, acrid, bitter, with a sharp taste; cooling, anthelmintic, tonic; cures leprosy, dysentery, bronchitis, asthma, leucoderma, piles, tremors of the muscles, wandering of the mind and also utilized as a remedy for rheumatism.