Animal feed resources information system

Boscia (Boscia angustifolia)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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

Boscia; kalkaj [Borana, Kenya]; musambweke [Giriama, Kenya]; mulule [Kamba, Kenya];  lito [Kipsigis, Kenya]; ayiergweng, bware [Luo, Kenya]; oloireroi  [Maasai, Kenya]; likwon [Pokot, Kenya]; lororoi [Samburu, Kenya]; chieh [Somali, Kenya]; lito [Tugen, Kenya]; emejen [Turkana, Kenya]; cèkoroninkolo, kesebere, berejè [Bambara, Mali], diaba, ghinadiu, ghineghiu, nose, samon-kesebere, tiekoni-kolo, tutigi [Malinke, Mali]), tegelena [Minyanka, Senoufo, Mali], nubowewe [Bwa, Mali];  sel'pili, selem pilu [Dogon, Mali]; hassu [Songhaï, Mali, Niger, Benin]; agahini, ballakani [Hausa, Niger], hasu [Zarma, Niger]; hasou [Dendi, Benin], yiribé [Bambara, Benin], tipi [Peuhl, Benin]; Msingisa [Kigogo, Tanzania] (Prota4U, 2018; Komwihangilo et al., 1995; Baumer, 1983).

Taxonomic information 

There are 2 varieties of Boscia:  Boscia angustifolia var. corymbosa has minutely pubescent leaves and Boscia angustifolia var. angustifolia has leaves with completely glabrous lower face (Orwa et al., 2009).

Related feed(s) 

Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) is an African multipurpose tree that is mainly used for fodder and food (Orwa et al., 2009).


Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) is a shrubby, evergreen tree reaching a height of 6-14 m (Orwa et al., 2009; Fici et al., 1993; Dougall et al., 1958). In the wild, the crown of  boscia is cylindrical, however, this shape is seldom found since the shrub is frequently lopped for feeding livestock and thus the crown is mostly round-shaped (Dougall et al., 1958). Its branches are leafy, bearing numerous, small, thick, fleshy and coriaceous, leaves. These leaves are narrow (hence the epithet "angustifolia" meaning narrow leaf) lanceolate or linear in shape and pale green in colour. They can be alternate on young twigs of clustered on old wood. The leaf blade is 2-4.5 (-6.5) cm long x 0.7-2 cm broad, with conspicuous midrib and reticulum on both faces (Orwa et al., 2009; Fici et al., 1993). The shrub keeps its leaves during the dry season (FAO, 2016).

The flowers are small greenish-white, clustered in short terminal corymbose racemes, 3-6 cm long x 3-7 cm in diameter. Boscia angustifolia flourishes during the cool part of the dry season.The fruits need a year to ripen .They are edible, though bitter, spherical, rough-skinned berries, up to 13 mm in diameter, reddish grey in colour (Orwa et al., 2009; Fici et al., 1993; Dougall et al., 1958). They contain 7 cream-coloured seeds (Orwa et al., 2009).


All parts of boscia (Boscia angustifolia) are used, either for food or fodder, either for wood.

The foliage (leaves and young twigs) of boscia is nutritious and sometimes browsed by herbivores, especially at flowering stage and at the end of the dry season (FAO, 2016; Baumer, 1983). In dryland areas, farmers lop the branches to provide fodder to their herds and keep them from starving (Orwa et al., 2009; NRC, 2008; Dougall et al., 1958). Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) is foraged by bees (Orwa et al., 2009).

Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) wood is hard and can be used for carpentry or water storage. It is also a valuable source of charcoal for gunpowder (Orwa et al., 2009). The wood of boscia (Boscia angustifolia) can be burnt to smoke milk as a way of preservation, in Tanzania (Komwihangilo et al., 1995). Many ethnomedicines are yielded from boscia (Baumer, 1983). In ethnoveterinary medicine, the pounded leaves of boscia are used as tonic for horses and camels (Orwa et al., 2009).



Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) is a Sahelo-Sudanese species that can be found from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea on a wide belt starting in Senegal and going both eastwards to the Horn of Africa and Arabia and southwards to Guinea on the west side and Tanzania on the east side (Fici et al., 1993). Boscia is more common in West Africa than in East Africa (FAO, 2016). It is found in savannahs, in deciduous woodland and in bushland. It can be found from sea level up to over 1500 m altitude in areas where annual rainfall ranges from 200 to 400 (-800) mm. It can grow on free-draining red and lateritic soils, in very arid sites like rocky screes, cliffs or dry riverbeds (FAO, 2016; Orwa et al., 2009). 

Environmental impact 

Shade or shelter

In very sunny and dry areas, the boscia trees provide shade for livestock (Orwa et al., 2009).

Reclamation and forest sustainable management

Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) shrub is reported to readily establish itself in adverse conditions and to have potential for reclaiming degraded sites (Orwa et al., 2009). In the "Say management method" proposed for "spotted bush sustainable management, boscia was the only shrub that could be cut for forage above 2 m high (Peltier et al., 1995)

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Crude protein content of leaves and small part of twigs of boscia (Boscia angustifolia) has been reported to be  high with 336 g/kg DM  (Dougall et al., 1964). More recent research has found only 149 g/kg DM but it is not known how much branches samples contain (Osuga et al., 2006).

The level of  total phenolic compounds and of total tannin was reported to be low. It wass confirmed since polyethylene glycol did not improve DM digestibility (50%) when added into the medium for digestibility trial (Osuga et al., 2006).


Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) is reluctantly browsed by livestock. It was reported to be undesirable browse by camels, sheep and goats most part of the year but was considered intermediately palatable by cattle during the dry season (Lusigi et al., 1984). In scarce periods, in the arid lands of Northern Kenya, 50% of the tree species, however, are known to be utilized by camels, 50% by goats, and 16% by sheep. Cattle was also observed to feed on Acacia tortilis flowers, Grewia bicolor and Boscia (Boscia angustifolia) which remain green longer than other plant species (Lusigi et al., 1984).

There are however no results of experiments about ruminant feeding with boscia (Boscia angustifolia) leaves or twigs and young branches. It was reported that cattle sheep and and goats ate twigs and leaves of boscia (Boscia angustifolia) (Dougall et al., 1964).


No information seems available on direct use of the foliage of boscia (Boscia angustifolia) in rabbit feeding (November 2018). However, during the dry season,cattle, goats and sheep can eat with benefit the leaves and young twigs from lopped branches (Dougall et al., 1958; Sanon et al., 2007). Leaves of Boscia grandiflora are also  used in treatment of some poultry diseases (Komwihangilo et al., 1995). Thus the use of this type of shrub foliage to feed rabbits, cannot be excluded and must be considered as a real possibility. But direct experiments are necessary before any recommendation of use of this forage rich in proteins (18-22%) and fibre (29-39% crude fibre in DM). The calculated digestible energy content of dry matter would be most probably around 8 to 9 MJ/kg, and protein digestibility about 55% (Lebas 2016).

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 77.5 59.0 96.0 2
Crude protein % DM 19.6 1.7 18.1 22.0 4
Crude fibre % DM 33.9 4.7 29.4 39.2 4
NDF % DM 54.4 52.1 56.7 2
ADF % DM 34.7 32.1 37.4 2
Lignin % DM 11.1 9.9 12.2 2
Ether extract % DM 1.8 0.5 1.3 2.6 4
Ash % DM 7.1 2.0 5.1 9.9 4
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.9 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 7.6 3.2 5.6 12.4 4
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.1 0.6 0.6 1.8 4
Potassium g/kg DM 11.6 10.2 13.0 2
Sodium g/kg DM 0.0 1
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.6 2.2 3.0 2
Manganese mg/kg DM 843 1
Zinc mg/kg DM 85 1
Copper mg/kg DM 17 1

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


CIRAD, 1991; Dougall et al., 1958

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:49

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/176 Last updated on March 7, 2019, 11:14