Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Delile

First published in Descr. Egypte, Hist. Nat. 2(Mém.): 221 (1813)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is Africa, Israel to Arabian Peninsula. It is a tree and grows primarily in the desert or dry shrubland biome.

Descriptions

Balanitaceae, E. Launert. Flora Zambesiaca 2:1. 1963

Morphology General Habit
Small evergreen tree (rarely a shrub) up to 15 m. high, ± spiny, with a flat or rounded crown; stem with a reticulate dark brown or grey (rarely green) bark; branches green or greyish, stiff and brittle, always armed with stout simple green or yellowish spines.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves petiolate; leaflets shortly petiolulate; lamina 2·5–6 × 1·5–4 cm., slightly asymmetric, elliptic to elliptic-obovate, apex subacute to obtuse, sometimes slightly refuse, base cuneate or rarely rounded, coriaceous, puberulous when young, later glabrescent or sometimes remaining puberulous on the lower surface; secondary nerves 4–6 pairs, ± prominent beneath; petiole (0·5) 0·8–2 cm. long, puberulous or glabrescent, canaliculate.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Flowers in usually few-flowered sessile or shortly pedunculate fascicles; pedicels up to 1·5 cm. long, ± densely greyish-pubescent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers c. 1·4 cm. in diam.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals 5·2–7 × 2·7–3·25 mm., ovate or ovate-lanceolate, coriaceous, caducous, densely pubescent outside, with long silky whitish hairs inside.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals 7·2–9·5 × 2–2·4 (2·8) mm., narrowly elliptic or elliptic-oblong, rarely lanceolate-oblong, glabrous on both surfaces.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens with the anthers 1·7–2·2 mm. long, ovate or ovate-oblong, glabrous; filaments c. 3·75 mm. long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary densely covered with long silky hairs.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Drupe yellowish or green, up to 5 × 2·5 cm., usually subcylindric, more rarely narrowly ellipsoid or subobclavate, finely puberulous, sometimes glabrescent.
[FZ]

Zygophyllaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:2. 1958

Morphology General Habit
A tree 20–30 ft. high, with greenish stems and branches
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Yellow edible fruits each with a single hard seed.
[FWTA]

Balanitaceae, Martin J.S. Sands. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2003

Morphology General Habit
A semi-evergreen or sometimes deciduous shrub or small tree up to 12(–15) m high, usually spiny, extremely variable in many of its characters; bole usually straight, to 60 cm diameter, often fluted, branches spreading irregularly or pendulous, sometimes forming a rounded crown; bark hard, becoming rough, corky and deeply fissured, dark grey; branchlets and spines greyish green becoming light brown, at first minutely puberulous to tomentellous, usually glabrescent.
Morphology General Spines
Spines borne at wide angle to the parent stem, axillary or to 4 mm above the axil, straight or slightly curved, (0.4–)2–8(–11.5) cm long, 2–6 mm diameter at the base, terete with a sharp tip or subulate, without leaves or flowers, only very rarely bearing a short branch-spine.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves subsessile or with a petiole up to 3.5 cm long; stipules0.5–1 mm long, triangular, caducous, finely puberulous, glabrescent; leaflets very variable, narrowly spathulate or elliptic to broadly ovate or obovate, sometimes very broadly spathulate or almost orbicular and eccentric, 0.6–6.8 cm long, 0.3–5 cm wide, sessile or with petiolules 0.1–1 cm long, thin to coriaceous, apex bluntly acute to obtuse or rounded, occasionally emarginate, cuneate or narrowly decurrent at the base, closely and minutely puberulous, often glabrescent, or sometimes densely tomentellous or tomentose; foliole 1–2.5 mm long, often caducous, linear and bent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence of (1–)2–20 or more flowers variously arranged in cymose fasicles at spineless or spiniferous nodes, or closely arranged on shoots of short internodes, sometimes more or less spiciform, finely tomentellous to tomentose; peduncle, if present, 2–8 mm long; pedicels 0.4–2 cm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers 5-merous, sweet-scented; sepals spreading to reflexed, ovate, 3.5–5.5 mm long, 1.5–2.5 mm wide, acute to acuminate, tomentellous to tomentose on the outside, sometimes early caducous; petals spreading, sometimes reflexed, green to pale yellow or creamy white, lanceolate or narrowly elliptic to obovate-oblong, 4.5–7 mm long, 1–2.5 mm wide, rounded or obtuse to acute, sometimes contorted at the apex, glabrous within; stamens 10, spreading; anthers 0.7–1.8 mm long, 0.4–0.7 mm wide; ovary 0.7–1 mm high, puberulous or pubescent to tomentose; style 1.5–3.5 mm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit elongating markedly in very early development, very variable when mature, ripening greenish brown to yellow, subspherical or ovoid to ellipsoidal, 2.3–4.7 cm long, 1.3–2.8 cm wide, rounded, truncate or sometimes sulcate at both ends or apex tapering, conical, leathery at first, becoming brittle on the outside, inside yellowish brown, fibrous and oily, surrounding a hard, woody endocarp containing the seed.
Distribution
DISTR. (of species as a whole) throughout much of Africa from Mauritania and Senegal to Somalia and from Egypt southwards to Zambia and ZimbabweW Arabia and the Jordan valley
[FTEA]

M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008] https://plants.jstor.org/collection/FLOS

Morphology General Habit
Shrub or tree up to 8 m high, usually spiny, with spreading or pendulous branches
Morphology Stem
Young stems and spines greyish-green becoming light brown, minutely puberulous or tomentellous, glabrescent
Morphology General Spines
Spines arising 0.1–0.4 cm above the leaf-axil, (0.4–)2–8(–11.5) cm long, naked except for a few scale-leaves or rarely a single short lateral spine
Morphology Leaves
Scale-leaves rare, on young spines, falling quickly, c. 0.75 mm long Foliage leaves only on the stems, puberulous to tomentellous, often glabrescent, subsessile or with up to 2(–3.5) cm long petiole; petiolule (0–)1–5(–8) mm long; leaflets narrowly elliptic to broadly ovate or obovate, 1–6.8 x 0.3–5 cm, leathery, cuneate at the base, bluntly acute to obtuse or rounded at the apex
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Flowers 5-merous, (1–)2–15(–20 or more), variously arranged in loose to tight sometimes ± spike-like clusters at spinous nodes or on spineless stems; pedicels 4–11(–20) mm long, tomentellous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals narrowly obovate-elliptic, yellowish or blue-green, 4.5–6.5 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens 10
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary pubescent to tomentose; style 1–2 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit elongating markedly in early development, becoming ovoid to ellipsoid, usually rounded or truncate at both ends, usually ripening yellow, (2.3–)2.9–4(–4.5) x (1.3–)1.7–2.2(–2.5) cm.
[FSOM]

Sources

  • Art and Illustrations in Digifolia

    • Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew
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    • Flora Zambesiaca
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Somalia

    • Flora of Somalia
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    • Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2022 World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2022 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Science Photographs

    • Copyright applied to individual images