Potential to harness superior nutritional qualities of exotic baobabs if local adaptation can be conferred through grafting
Baobab leaves form an important part of the local diet in Sahel countries and elsewhere in Africa. Existing leaf nutritional data and agroforestry performance information are based solely on Adansonia digitata L., the baobab of continental Africa. The introduction potential of Adansonia species from the center of diversity in Madagascar and from Australia remains untapped. To assess this potential, the mineral contents and B-1 and B-2 vitamin levels of dried baobab leaves were determined for five-year old trees of A. digitata, A. gibbosa (A. Cunn.) Guymer ex D. Baum, A. rubrostipa Jum. & H. Perrier (syn. A. fony Baill.), A. perrieri Capuron and A. za Baill. grown in an introduction trial in Mali. Nutritional data were evaluated against survival and vigor to identify promising germplasm. Leaf vitamin and crude protein contents were highest in the Madagascar species, especially A. rubrostipa (B-1 88 mg 100 g(-1), B-2 187 mg 100 g(-1), protein 20.7% dry weight). However, the local species far outperformed the introductions in survival, tree height, basal diameter and resistance to termites.