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African birch (Anogeissus leiocarpa)


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Common names 

African birch [English]; bouleau d’Afrique [French]; n’galama [Bambara]; ميشطة ملساء الثمرة [Arabic] (Andary et al., 2005)


Anogeissus schimperi Hochst. ex Hutch. & Dalz. (Andary et al., 2005), Conocarpus leiocarpus DC. (USDA, 2010).

Feed categories 

The African birch (Anogeissus leiocarpa (DC.) Guill. & Perr.) is a slow growing evergreen shrub or small to medium-sized tree, reaching up to 15-30 m in height. The bark is grey to mottled pale and dark brown, scaly, flaking off in rectangular patches, fibrous and exuding a dark gum. Leaves are alternate to nearly opposite, simple and entire, covered in dense silky hair when young. Flowers are pentamerous, pale yellow and fragrant. Fruits are rounded samaras, 4-10 mm × 6-11 mm × 2-2.5 mm, with 2 wings, and with a yellowish to reddish brown colour. They contain one seed, enclosed horizontally in a dense cone-like fructification (Andary et al., 2005).

The leaves are famous for their use as a yellow dye in ancestral Bogolan textile techniques in Mali and Burkina Faso. The wood makes an excellent fuel and yields good charcoal. The bark, leaves and roots have ethno-medicinal properties (antimicrobial and anthelmintic activity) and are usually taken as decoctions or aqueous extracts (Andary et al., 2005; Agaie et al., 2007). Derivatives of ellagic acids ("anogelline") extracted from the bark have been shown to delay the degradation of collagen, and the tree is grown commercially since 2000 for the production of cosmetics in the Koro region of Burkina Faso (Jansen et al., 2005).

Anogeissus leiocarpa is a browse species in soudano-sahelian regions (Tézenas du Montcel, 1994).


Anogeissus leiocarpa is found in a large range of ecosystems, from dry savannah to wet forest borders, in wooded grassland and bush land, and on riverbanks in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Cameroon, Congo-Kinshasa, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal (USDA, 2010; Andary et al., 2005).

Optimal growth conditions are 200-1200 mm annual rainfall, from sea level up to an altitude of 1900 m in fertile soils. It often grows gregariously on fertile soil in moist situations (Andary et al., 2005).

Environmental impact 

Though very sensitive to fire, Anogeissus leiocarpa can be used for reforestation (Andary et al., 2005).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Anogeissus leiocarpa browse has a relatively low protein content of about 12-14% (Fall Touré, 1991; Yahaya et al., 2000; Kibon et al., 1993). Its leaf:stem ratio is also quite low (0.4) (Yahaya et al., 2000).

Potential constraints 

The leaves of Anogeissus leiocarpa are rich in tannin: they contain ellagic, gallic and gentisic acids, derivatives of gallic and ellagic acid, and several flavonoids (derivatives of quercetin and kaempferol) that are very useful for dyeing (Andary et al., 2005) but that may have deleterious effects on nutritive value. However, no signs of toxicity were observed in growing goats fed African birch browse (Yahaya et al., 2000).


In semi-arid regions of Nigeria, growing goats (12.4 ± 0.9 kg LW) fed Anogeissus leiocarpa browse had the lowest DM intake (530-540 g/day) and the lowest daily gain (42-155 g/day) when compared to goats fed other native browses (Ziziphus spina-christi, Faidherbia albida and Sterculia setigera) (Yahaya et al., 2000; Kibon et al., 1993). Dry matter digestibility (61-64 %) was lower than for the other browse species (Yahaya et al., 2000; Kibon et al., 1993).

African birch browse could be used either as a supplement or as a basal diet when availability of other herbaceous forage is limiting the production potential of goats and possibly other ruminants (Yahaya et al., 2000).


No information found (2013).


No information found (2013).


No information found (2013).

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 45.9 7.4 40.0 54.2 3
Crude protein % DM 12.2 2.9 7.9 19.6 11
Crude fibre % DM 16.1 1.9 13.3 19.0 8
NDF % DM 40.1 10.9 28.2 56.0 7
ADF % DM 29.5 8.1 19.5 40.2 7
Lignin % DM 10.8 4.8 5.5 15.7 5
Ether extract % DM 3.9 2.5 1.9 9.2 7
Ash % DM 8.3 1.6 6.3 11.2 9
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.0 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 14.5 7.5 1.3 26.5 8
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.5 0.6 0.7 2.4 8
Potassium g/kg DM 6.8 1.7 4.8 8.1 5
Sodium g/kg DM 1.2 1
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.9 0.7 1.8 3.7 5
Manganese mg/kg DM 24 1
Zinc mg/kg DM 19 1
Copper mg/kg DM 13 1
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 34.1 23.7 44.5 2
Tannins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 0.0 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 66.0 1

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


CIRAD, 1991; Kibont et al., 1993; Yahaya et al., 2000

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:37

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Renaudeau D., Bastianelli D., 2016. African birch (Anogeissus leiocarpa). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/701 Last updated on March 15, 2016, 11:53

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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