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TitleBaobab Monograph
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Page 2



Adansonia digitata L.


M. Sidibe and J. T. Williams


A. Hughes

N. Haq

R. W. Smith

Page 52


Table 4.11. Cyclic fatty acid content seeds of Adansonia species

Species % oil Malvalic Sterculic Dihydrosterculic
A. digitata 8.4 3.1 1.2 5.1
13.2 5.1 1.6 1.5
A. grandideri 37.0 6.2 8.1 No data
30.7 6.3 7.6 4.4
36.4 6.9 7.4 1.8
A. za 10.9 6.7 2.9 4.6
11.4 4.9 2.1 4.5
A. madagascarensis 13.8 5.9 2.2 4.0
A. suarezensis 46.2 7.7 4.3 1.7
A. rubrostipa 10.5 5.1 1.6 2.6

The cyclic fatty acids are many times the contents found in cotton seed oil
where values for the three compounds in table 4.11 would all be less than

Seeds are also known to contain tannin, a trypsin inhibitor and an alkaloid,
adansonine. Normal processing in cooking renders most levels acceptable
and there are potential methods for reduction if oil is processed (Addy et al.,
1995). However, amylase inhibitor is seen in seeds but is considerably
reduced when dehulled (Igboeli et al., 1997).

4.4.4 Medicinal compounds

In many medicinal uses, stem bark is used. When prepared it is made into a
decoction for internal use and functions due to its soluble and insoluble
tannin, and gummy and albuminious constituents. β-sitosterol has been
studied and this occurs in the bark and also the seed oil (for reference see
Asolkar et al., 1992). The mucilage of leaves has been discussed by Gaiwe
et al. (1989). Adansonin, with formula C48H36O33, in the bark is thought to
be the active principle for treatment of malaria and other fevers.

Root bark is also used in India in traditional medicine. This contains β-
sitosterol and two glycosides (Ramesh et al., 1992). Other analyses have
shown that leaves, as well as bark, contain lupeol acetate as well as β-
sitosterol, scopoletin, friedelin and baueronol. Bark additionally contains
betulinic acid (Dan and Dan, 1986)

Bark has, in the past, been exported to Europe, for use as a fever treatment.
It was traded as cortex cael cedra.

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Baobab provides food, emergency water, fibres and medicines. This chapter
summarises the major uses of baobabs.

5.1 Domestic food uses and local processing

5.1.1 Leaves

Young fresh leaves are cut into pieces and cooked in a sauce. Sometimes
they are dried and powdered and used for cooking. The powder is called lalo
in Mali and is sold in many village markets in Western Africa. There is a
marked seasonality in use of leaves. Nordeide et al., (1996) surveyed two
villages and a town neighbourhood to compare rural and urban use of wild
foods in southern Mali. Out of over 100 rural households, 26% used baobab
leaves in the rainy season, and 56% in the dry season; and out of over 150
urban households, 6% used baobab leaves in the rainy season and 13% in the
dry season. Use of fruits was much lower and ranged from 0.5-6% of
households, with roughly a two-fold increased use in the dry season.

In Mali, use of the leaves in sauce is usually in association with seeds of
Parkia biglobosa, onion, okra, pepper, ginger, sometimes meat, but more
often fish. The sauce is used with a thick porridge made from millet,
sorghum or maize, but also for couscous and rice (Nordeide et al., 1996). In
other areas leaves are used for soup e.g. miyan kuka of the Hausa in northern
Nigeria and ground leaves are boiled in salt water (Yazzie et al., 1994).

Leaves are used throughout the African distribution of baobab e.g. in
Malawi they are boiled with potash (Williamson, 1975). In Zimbabwe, they
provide fresh vegetables that are substituted for the commercially grown
leafy vegetables such as cabbages ans lettuce (Dovie et al., in press), but
they do not appear to be used in Madagascar, and not used for food purposes
in India.

There are no major reports on storability and quality of powdered leaves.
Moreover since leaves are an important source of iron and other minerals,
the bioavailability of the minerals requires further study. The high content of
tannin may be acceptable in terms of normal usage of the leaves due to an
emollient present.

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