Animal feed resources information system

Afzelia africana

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).


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Common names 

Afzelia, lucky-bean tree, African oak, African-mahogany [English]; Doussié, lingué [French]; Chanfuta [Portuguese], uvala, mussacossa [Portuguese Angola & Mozambique]; kpakpatin, pakpajide [Fon]; kawo [Hausa], apa [Yoruba]; akpalata [Igbo]; gayoki [Fulani]; papao [Ghana]


Intsia africana (Sm. ex Pers.) Kuntze; Pahudia africana (Sm. ex Pers.) Prain

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Related feed(s) 

Afzelia africana is a medium to large deciduous tree up to 40 m high. It is mostly used for its high-grade timber but has good potential to provide fodder for livestock and food. Afzelia africana is a multipurpose tree suitable for use in agroforestry systems. It was considered to be vulnerable because of pressure put by wood exploitation but also because of poor regeneration of stands due to browsing animals or intensive lopping.


Afzelia africana can grow to 30-40 m in height in forests and to 10-18 m in savannah (Orwa et al., 2009). It is taprooted but also develops secondary roots that explore the first centimetres of the soil (Bationo et al., 2011). The trunk has small unequal buttresses at his base (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009). The trunk is straight, cylindrical, it can reach 1-1.8 m in diameter above buttresses and is branchless up to 20 m high (Donkpegan et al., 2014). The bark is 2 cm thick, scaly, very aromatic, grey to dark brown in colour. The crown is large, spreading. Its shape (flat or rounded) depends on age and growing conditions (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009). The branches are tortuous, more or less upright, branchlets are glabrous with lenticels.The leaves are alternate, petiolated, paripinnate, up to 30 cm long with 7-17 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are opposite, elliptic to ovate-elliptic in shape, 5-15 cm long x 3-8.5 cm broad. The inflorescence is a terminal or axillary panicle, 3-13 cm long. The flowers are sweet scented, white to yellowish, zygomorphous bearing 5 petals among which one is 1.5 cm x 1 cm, red striped, and the other 4 are very minute. Afzelia africana flowers in the rainy season. The fruit requires 6 months to ripen. It is an oblong, straight flattened, dehiscent pod, 10-20 cm long x 5-8 cm broad, brown to black in colour. Pods can remain on the tree 6 months after ripening. Each pod contains several potentially toxic seeds, 2-3 cm long, inserted in a conspicuous edible bright orange aril covering one third of their length. The other 2/3 of the seed are black. Seeds are spread by birds which feed on the arils (Gérard et al., 2011).


Afzelia africana is considered to be one ot the most important woody fodder plant in many parts of Africa. Afzelia africana foliage is reported to be good for cattle particularly during the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season when grass has not grown yet (Gérard et al., 2011). Afzelia africana leaves, fruits and seeds are browsed by wildlife animals, many parts of the tree are edible. The leaves can be cooked and used as vegetables while young leaves are mixed with ground cereals before cooking. The flowers are used as condiment in sauces and the seed aril is reported to be sweet. The seed has high protein (26%) and high oil (33%) contents. It is possible to make flour out the seed and to use it in mixture with wheat flour in order to increase protein value (Gérard et al., 2011; Ejikeme et al., 2010). The seed is used as a thickening agent for soup in South-Eastern parts of Nigeria though it is also reported to have some toxicity (Igwenyi et al., 2010). The oil has long shelf-life and valuable PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and can be used for cooking (Gérard et al., 2011; Ejikeme et al., 2010). The oil of Afzelia africana is also reported to be a semi-drying oil that can have industrial application in surface coatings of alkyd resins (Gérard et al., 2011; Ejikeme et al., 2010). The coproduct of oil extraction is a seed cake that can be fed to livestock

Afzelia africana is used as an ornamentald and for rituals. It is considered a fetish tree in many regions (Gérard et al., 2011).

However, Afzelia africana is mainly used for its heavy wood which is light brown to red brown in colour, durable, termite-proof, and of high quality (dimensional stability and durability). It does not require treatment prior to usage in permanent humid conditions or in places where insects are abundant. It can compare to high grade timbers like teak or merbau and is used for carpentry, canoes, house building, panelling, parquet floors, doors, frames stairs and many types of furniture and kitchen utensils (Gérard et al., 2011). Afzelia Africana wood is also good as firewood and fo charcoal production (Gérard et al., 2011). This species has been considered vulnerable due to the pressure put by wood exploitation (IUCN, 1998).


Afzelia africana originated from Africa and is widespread from the West Coast of Africa (Senegal) to the eastern countries like the Sudan Republic, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (Ecocrop, 2018; Gérard et al., 2011; Brenan, 1967).

Afzelia africana is found in wooded savannah and dense dry forests or dense more semi deciduous forest in moister areas. It can be found from sea level up to an altitude of 1370 m in places where annual rainfall is (900-) 1200-1800 mm and where annual average temperature ranges from 20 to 35ºC. It can grow in depressions prone to regular flooding but also on steep slopes on a wide variety of soils ranging from sandy to ferralitic as well as calcareous ones. In drier areas, Afzelia africana does better on deep, well-drained moist soils and on termite mounds (Ecocrop, 2018; Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009; Brenan, 1967). Afzelia africana is fairly fire-resistant in the driest sites, but when occuring in dense forests it is susceptible to occasional fires. Afzelia africana population could decrease at the expense of more fire resistant specias (Ecocrop, 2018; Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009; Brenan, 1967).

Forage management 

Afzelia africana has poor regeneration rate because of fires, and of predation of seedlings by animals. The seeds can survive at least 3 years provided they have no more than 8% moisture and are kept in air-tied containers. They should be sown no deeper than 2 cm with hilum facing downwards. To prevent predation and fires, the seeds can be sown in nurseries either in pots or in holes (40 cm in diameter and 40 cm depth). After germination, the seedlings should be planted after 3-4 months and the young trees should be protected against browsing animals and fires for 2-3 years. Afzelia africana is a quick growing tree, its diameter increases by 1.5 cm every year during the 17 first years (Gérard et al., 2011). The tree can be coppiced and pollarded to provide fodder to cattle (Gérard et al., 2011).

Environmental impact 

Endangered species

Afzelia africana was considered to be vulnerable due to the pressure put by wood exploitation but also by cattle in some places like North-Cameroun where it is one of the most important forage tree (Onana et al., 2002; IUCN, 1998). It is also referred to be endangered in Mali, Burkina-Faso, Nigeria and Benin (Sinsin et al., 2004; Bonou et al., 2009).

Soil improver and soil cover

As an N-fixing tree, Afzelia africana improves soil fertility and its N and mineral rich leaves that fall on the ground or that are mulched provide both nutrient and soil cover, thus reducing erosion (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009).

Shade provider, living barrier

Afzelia Africana provides shade and shelter to hunters that wait for wildlife. It is also planted as barrier for property demarcation in village where it can also be valued as timber (Gérard et al., 2011; Orwa et al., 2009).

Nutritional aspects

Afzelia africana is among the most important browse trees in agrosilvopastoral ecosystems in West Africa because of the high nutritive value of foliage as livestock fodder (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2008). It can be browsed, distributed as a supplement or as a sole feed to ruminants and enables satisfying performances for animals.


Afzelia africana is perceived of high quality for milk, and to a lesser extent for meat production by pastoralists (Tamou et al., 2018). Afzelia africana was among the most consumed browse trees by cattle with Kaya senegalensis and Dichrostachys cinerea in shrub and tree savannah in the sub-humid areas of West Africa (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2006). Similarly, its abundance in the Sudanian zone of Burkina Faso makes this species one of the most frequently used by cattle during the hot dry season. During this period of the year, herders cut branches of these trees to feed their animals, thus increasing browse use; during the cool dry season, cattle ingest the available pods (Zampaligré et al., 2013).


Its high DM and NDF digestibility suggests Afzelia africana may be a good source of energy for sheep. The high DMI of Afzelia africana shows the possibility to offer this foliage as a sole feed to animals. As sole feed, the DMI of Afzelia africana (598 g/d) was actually higher than the values ranging from 292 to 571 g/d reported in the literature for other browse species used as sole feeds (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2008b; Merkel et al., 1999). When offered as a supplement to a diet based on hay and maize bran, Afzelia africana offered ad libitum supported satisfying growth rate (63 g/d) and carcass characteristics (weight and composition) (Ouédraogo-Koné et al., 2009).


In a cafeteria trial with several browse tree species, Afzelia africana was the most preferred foliage by goats, in relation with its highest CP content and lowest phytate content and extremely low condensed tannins content (Okunade et al., 2014). When offered as a supplement to a threshed sorghum top-based diet, intake of forage, DM, condensed tannins and most of the nutrients; as well as digestibilities of DM, crude protein (CP) and non-fibre carbohydrate, but also N absorbed, N balance and N retention were greater with Afzelia africana than with other fodders (Isah et al., 2015).


There is no literature available on the use of Afzelia africana by camels (as of December 2018).



Litterature about the use of afzelia africana seeds for poultry is extremely scarce. Whole afzelia seedmeal could be fed to broilers (starters and finishers) as a source of protein. The results in terms of body weight gain, and feed intake were hindered by the use of afzelia seed meal. It was hypothesized that these effects could be due to phytates and alkaloids (Gérard et al., 2011). However, it was shown that apparent nutrient digestibility and profit margin could be slightly improved by the use of roasted afzelia seedmeal in starters. This was not true for finishers (Ayanwale et al., 2007).




Afzelia africana leaves are largely used to feed ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats) in the Sahelian and other semi-dry parts of Africa (see Ruminants section)). But curiously no information seems available in the international literature (October 2018) on their utilisation in rabbit feeding. However because no impairment of performance is described for ruminants consuming this foliage, it should be considered as a potential part of rabbits daily ration. Nevertheless direct experiments would be welcome. Effectively, Afzelia africana leaves are rich in proteins (12-24%, according to season), and in phosphorus (0.4 to 0.7%) but relatively poor in lignins (5-6%) and calcium (0.7-0.8%) (Okunade et al. 2014; Isah et al. 2015). Moreover in most conditions the leaves are available during the dry season when other forages are rare (Ikhimioya et al, 2007).


Literature on the use of Afzelia africana seeds in rabbit feeding is very scarce: only two publications seem available (Yusuf et al, 2011; Handlos 2018). Roasted seeds are valuable source of proteins (20-25%), of lysine and of sulphur amino acids and moreover of lipids (30-40%) (Madubuike et al., 1994). They can be effectively included in growing rabbit diets. Nevertheless real limits of incorporation levels were not determined. More, the real interest of roasting before grinding must be confirmed since, for example, in a 63 days study with broiler chickens, roasting of seeds (12% of the diet) improves the final weight only by 3.6% in comparison with raw seeds (Ayanwale et al., 2007). This result is statistically significant, but the improvement is of questionable economic interest.

However, recommending the use of Afzelia africana seeds in rabbit feeding, or in animal feeding in general, may be questionable since these seeds are normally used in human nutrition as protein source, mainly to prepare soups, (Igwenyi et al., 2010).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 
Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/24689 Last updated on December 14, 2018, 13:18