Cadaba farinosa

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Local names:
Arabic (suraya,serein), Fula (baggahi), Hausa (bagayi), Somali (qalaanqaal,dornai,ditab,caanamacays), Swahili (mvunja-vumo,kibilazi-mwitu), Wolof (n'debarghe,debarka)

Cadaba farinosa is a slender shrub with a strongly furrowed stem, rarely straight with a yellowish grey bark. Young twigs densely covered with sessile or subsessile scales, sometimes mixed with stiff glandular and eglandular hairs. 

Leaves numerous and small, alternate on young shoots, clustered on older wood; leaf blade elliptic to obovate, 4-40 x 3-30 mm, apically rounded or retuse, mucronate, basally rounded or cuneate, farinose on both surfaces or glabrescent; petiole up to 3-4 mm long, densely farinose.

Flowers yellowish-green in racemes with farinose axis, 0.8-4.5 cm long. Bracts trifid with reduced central segment, pedicels 0.7-1.5 cm long. Sepals 4, ovate-elliptic, commonly 5-12 x 4 mm, farinose outside, puberulous at margins. Petals 4, with claw 6-7 mm long and oblanceolate blade, 4-5 mm long. Androphore 7-9 mm long; stamens 5 with filaments 1-1.4 cm long, anthers 3.5 mm long. Gynophore 0.8-1.2 cm long, sparsely covered with subsessile or short-stalked glands. Ovary cylindrical, farinose and with a flattened stigma.

Fruit oblong, cylindrical with contractions 5cm long and densely farinose. The interior of the fruit is orange-red when mature. Seeds are the size of a millet grain, comma-shaped, shiny, dark brown, and arranged in a single layer within the fruit.

Two subspecies are recognized; subsp. farinosa with young twigs densely covered with sessile scales, pedicels and sepals shorter, subsp. adenotricha with young twigs covered with glandular or simple hairs often mixed with sessile scales, pedicels and sepals longer. C. farinosa Forssk. subsp. rarifolia is reported in Pakistan.


C. farinosa is common in large depressions, but also found on sandy silts of valleys, around temporary ponds and on stabilized dunes, where there is a subsoil rich in fine particles. Commonly associated with Maerua spp. or on termite mounds.

Native range
Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan

Tree management

It can be lopped for fodder.

Seed storage behaviour appears to be orthodox.

C. farinosa is common in large depressions, but also found on sandy silts of valleys, around temporary ponds and on stabilized dunes, where there is a subsoil rich in fine particles. Commonly associated with Maerua spp. or on termite mounds.

C. farinosa regenerates naturally by way of seeds.

Used in sand dune stabilization.

Erosion control:  Protects the soil from wind and water erosion.

  The young leaves are edible and are also used in spicing and flavouring food.

Flowers, leaves and fruits are relished by all livestock, except horses and donkeys, particularly during the dry season. Camels are particularly fond of them and are the main consumers, since other species find it difficult to reach the foliage. Buffalo, black rhino and hartebeasts also seek the foliage. The fodder has a high protein content, 30%, and a digestibility in vitro value of 78%. C. farinosa also has a high ash content.

Provides fuelwood.

Shade or shelter:  Provides shade to small stock, goats and sheep.

Medicine:  Crushed leaves mixed with millet-flour are used as a medicine against coughs.

Can be used in constructing temporary fences for livestock.

Intercropping: Though it has shallow lateral roots, C. farinosa roots deeply. This implies that its intercropping potential could be average.

Other services: Preparations made from the plant are used in cleansing ceremonies in the Sudan.