Trees that feed Africa

  • 'Nere' or 'locust bean' trees (Parkia biglobosa) produce nutritious yellow flour & protein-rich seeds.
  • Harvesting 'nere' flour and seeds in Kalembouli, Burkina Faso.
  • Nutritious yellow flour from pods of Parkia biglobosa trees.
  • Seeds from Parkia biglobosa pods made into nutritious condiment, 'soumbala' in Mali.
  • Shea or 'karite' tree (VItellaria paradoxa) in flower, home to beehives.
  • Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) bark is distinctive.
  • Sheanuts produce an extremely high quality edible oil, also used in cosmetics.
  • In much of the Sahel, shea butter is an invaluable resource for women.
  • Baobab leaves (Adansonia digitata) are vitamin-rich staples in some Sahel diets, causing over-exploitation.
  • Dried baobab fruit makes extremely nutritious - and delicious - beverages.
  • Flower stems from kapok trees make a delicious ingredient in sauces.
  • Very popular indigenous fruit from Detarium microcarpum trees.
  • Tamarind is another invaluable food product from the indigenous African tree, Tamardindus indica.
  • Source of the famous liqueur 'Amarula', fresh fruit from Sclerocarya birrea are important in Sahelian diets..
  • In Africa's Sahel, wild raisins from Lannea microcarpa are an important fruit.
  • Palm wine or 'poyo' in Sierra Leone is harvested from the African oil palm (Elaeis guineense).
  • Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a much-loved fruit in Sierra Leone.
  • Breadfuit seeds and pulp

In most of Africa, traditional farms involve trees – a practice known as agroforestry. The trees provide many, many valuable products – edible fruits and edible leaves, spices and condiments, medicines, fodder and construction materials, helping to assure food and nutritional security and livelihoods throughout the year. They also perform many ecological services – pumping water and nutrients up from the soil depths to levels where crop and tree roots can access them, protecting and enriching soils, providing shade, habitat for wildlife and pollinators, conserving biodiversity, and sequestering carbon to keep it out of the atmosphere, so they help to combat global warming. This gallery profiles just a few of these invaluable agroforestry trees, with a special focus on the ones that nourish so many people on the continent and provide delicious foods for diverse and healthy diets.

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