Khejri (खेजडी) or Prosopis cineraria is a small to medium size
tree, native to arid part of Western and South Asia , including Afghanistan, Iran, India, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In India it is found in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan.
Khejri is the golden tree of Indian deserts, plays a vital role in preserving the ecosystem of arid and semi-arid areas.
It is the symbol of socio-economic development of the arid regions.
It is the state tree of Rajasthan (India) and provincial tree of the
Sindh province of Pakistan. Large and well known example of species is Tree of Life in Bahrain – approximately 400 years old
specimen growing in desert devoid of any sources of water.
Since all the parts of the tree are useful, it is called "kalp
taru" and also known as the ‘king of desert’, and the ‘wonder tree’.
Khejri is a tree which is worshipped by a large number of people such as Bishnoi
a great environmentalist community in Rajasthan. The importance of the medicinal value of
Khejari tree has been highlighted in ancient Ayurveda literature.
Khejari is frost-resistant, drought resistance and withstand in wild temperature extremes, ranging from 104-114 degrees Fahrenheit in the
summer to less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. It requires minimum rainfall. Khejari is the preferred plant species for livestock grazing in the area, and it provides
shelter to the grazing animals, people, birds with its shade.
Botanical name: Prosopis cineraria (L.) Druce
name: Prosopis cineraria
English name : Prosopis cineraria
: khejri ( खेजडी)
Rajasthani : jant/janti, Loong Tree
United Arab Emirates: Ghaf
The tree is evergreen or nearly so. It produces new flush leaves before summer.
The flowers are small in size and yellow or creamy white in colour, appear from
March to May after the new flush of leaves. The pods are formed soon thereafter and grow rapidly in size attaining full size in about two months time.
It is one of the indigenous trees of the Western Rajasthan, plains of the Punjab and Gujarat. It is a common tree in Bundelkhand,
near Delhi and Agra. It is also found in the dry parts of Central and Southern India,
in parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka south of Godavari
( गोदावरी) River. It also extends to West Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Plantation and Cultivation
Climate: The tree prefers a dry
climate and the most important areas of its distribution are characterized by extremes in temperature. In Punjab it occurs throughout the alluvial plains
(rainfall 10-25cms). The tree is a light demander and the older plants are drought resistant. The tree is able to withstand the hottest winds
and the driest season, and remains alive when other plants would succumb.
Soil: The tree grows on a variety of soils. It is seen at its best on alluvial soils
consisting of various mixtures of sand and clay. It is common on moderately saline soils, it quickly dries out where the soil is very saline.
Propagation: Natural regeneration through seed is confined to moist places, nut in dry situations the tree
regenerates itself by root suckers. The seeds need scarification and soaking in water before sowing. Germination percentage is
About one year old nursery plants are planted in the field. Artificial
regeneration through direct sowing on lands either subject to occasional floods or under irrigation has been found to be quite successful. The trees can also be
successfully raised by sowing in conjunction with field crops in irrigated lands. On an average, the yield of green forage from a full grown tree is expected to be
about 60 kg with complete lopping having only the central leading shoot, 30 kg
when the lower two third crown is lopped and 20 kg when the lower one third crown is lopped.
The root system of ''Prosopis cineraria'' is long and well developed. Growth above the ground is slow but below the ground
the roots penetrate deeper and deeper for the sub soil water. Very deep roots help in securing firm footing and in obtaining moisture supplies from deep soil layers. Taproot penetration up to 35 m depth has been reported.
Postage Stamp on Khejri. Stamp Issue Date : 05/06/1988 on World Environment Day, by
the Department of Posts, India
Khejri fruit (Sangri)
Fresh Sangri is green in colour while
the dry Sangari is brown or black in colour. Dry Sangari is very costly
in market ( nearly Rs,400 -500 per Kg.). Dry Sangari vegetable is
Khejri is a tree which is worshipped by a large number
of people such as Bishnoi community in Rajasthan.
Agricultural uses of Khejri
Khejari’s diversity make it a valuable “companion” to agricultural crops.
Khejari is a nitrogen fixer, which means it improves soil quality by making nitroen in the soil more available to other plants. Its leaves further improve
the soil by adding organic matter. With a taproot that can extend more than 100 feet deep and an extensive root mass , khejari helps stabilize the sandy desert
soil and shifting sand dunes. It can serve as a windbreak, protecting farms from
strong desert winds, and its wood is excellent for firewood and charcoal. Khejari is a symbol of sustainable socio-economic development the arid Indian deserts.
Khejari has a very deep tap root system and hence it does not
generally complete with the associated crops. The improved physical soil
conditions compared with higher availability of nutrients under the Khejri canopy explain the better growth of the crops associated with it.
Due to its extensive root system it stabilizes shifting sand dunes and is also useful as
windbreak shelterbelt and in afforestation of dry areas. It fixes atmospheric nitrogen through microbial activities. It adds organic matter through leaf
litter decomposition thus rejuvenating poor soils. Since in arid regions, this is the only tree species, it provides much needed shade and shelter to the
farmers working in the fields as well as to the cattle and wildlife during the summer months. Pods of Khejari are eaten by cattle, sheep, horses, mules,
donkeys, goats, camel and other wildlife in desert especially black buck and chinkara in western Rajasthan have survived by eating pods and leaves of this tree.
Other uses of Khejri
Khejari is most important top feed species providing nutritious
and highly palatable green as well as dry fodder, which is readily eaten by
camels, cattle, sheep and goats, constituting a major feed requirement of desert livestock. The leaves are of high nutritive
value, locally it is called ''Loong''. Feeding of the leaves during winter when no other green fodder is generally available in rain-fed
areas is thus profitable. The pods are a sweetish pulp and are also used as fodder for livestock.
Khejari Pods are locally called ''sangar'' or ''sangri''. The dried pods locally called ''Kho-Kha'' are eaten. Dried pods also
form rich animal feed, which is liked by all livestock. Green pods also form rich animal feed, which is liked by drying the young boiled pods. They are also
used as famine food and known even to prehistoric man. Even the bark, having an astringent bitter taste, was reportedly eaten during the severe famine of 1899
and 1939. Pod yield is nearly 14,000 kg/km² with a variation of 10.7% in dry locations.
Khejari Gum : Khejari produces a brown shining gum just like Arbic Gum which is obtained during the months of April to June.
Khejari wood is reported to contain high calorific value and provide high quality fuel wood. The lopped branches are good as fencing material.
Khejari flower is pounded, mixed with sugar and used during
pregnancy as safeguard against miscarriage. Water-soluble extract of the residue
from methanol extract of the stem bark exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
Khejari plant produces gum, which is obtained during May and June. The bark of the tree is dry, acrid, bitter with a sharp taste; cooling
anathematic; tonic, cures leprosy, dysentery, bronchitis, asthma, leucoderma, piles and tremors of the muscles. The smoke of the leaves is good for eye troubles. The pod is considered
astringent in Punjab. The bark is used as a remedy for rheumatism, in cough
colds, Asthma. The plant is recommended for the treatment of snakebite. The bark is prescribed for scorpion sting.
The bark of the tree provides immediate relief to a person bitten by snake or scorpion. Its leaves and fruits
are used in preparing medicines for curing nervous disorders. The medicines prepared from its bark are also used for treating
diarrhoea, dysentery, piles, worm infestations and other skin problems. The bark is also used to cure leprosy, bronchitis, asthma,
tumour of muscles and to improve concentration. The gum of the tree is nutritive and good in taste and is used by pregnant woman at the time of delivery.
Worship of Khejri
During Vedic times, khejri wood was used to kindle the sacred fire for performing a
yajana. In Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, mention the usefulness and
significance of this tree. It is said that Lord Ram (श्री राम)
worshipped khejri tree, which represents the goddess of power, before he led his army to kill
Ravana. The worshipping of this tree is referred to as samipuja. Pandavas also worshipped this tree and hid their weapons in it during their
Agyatavasa. Mainly men and married women worship Khejari (jand ) tree, in an elaborate way.
is popular as a snake-god and almost every village in Rajasthan has a
Than (sacred place) under a Khejari (खेजडी) tree dedicated to him. Gogaji is also venerated as
a saint and even as 'snake-god'. A saying about Gogaji :
गांव-गांव खेजडी न्ह गांव-गांव गोगो
The Bishnois, a community in Rajasthan [राजस्थान], would not cut
Khejari trees even from their agricultural fields. Among the 29 principles propounded by the founder of the sect prophet, Lord
Jhambheshwar, cutting and lopping of green trees is strictly prohibited. The Government of India has recently instituted the
'Amria Devi Bishnoi National Award for Wildlife Conservation' in the memory of Amrita Devi
Bishnoi, who in 1731 sacrificed her life along with 363 other members for the protection of khejri trees in Khejarali village near Jodhpur in
a great environmentalist community)
Khejri Tree can predict earthquakes- says a report
In some forecasting methods, plants like Khejri (Prosopis cineraria )is now catching the eyes of geoscientists.
In a research report in Rajasthan State, we can gauge the geological tremors through the leaves of Khejri. In case, the activities under the
earth decrease, then the leaves of Khejri trees faint. The geologists
say that the loss of life and property can be prevented through the pre-indication of Khejri leaves planted in the
earthquake –prone areas.
The specialists advise to plant and protect the Khejri tree.
Khejari leaves is the top
feed of camels
A recent survey by the Arid Forest Research Institute
(afri), Jodhpur, reveals that nearly- four-centimetre-long yellowish brown insect, the shoot borer
(Derolus discicollis) attacks have taken a heavy toll on khejri trees in the state.
Khejri fruits and Food value
or Pods are locally called sangar or sangri. The dried pods locally called Kho-Kha are eaten. Dried pods also form rich
animal feed, which is liked by all livestock. Green pods also form rich animal
feed, which is liked by drying the young boiled pods. The dried green sangri is used as a delicious dried vegetable which is very
costly (Nearly Rs.500 per kg in market in the year 2013). Many Rajasthani families use the green and unripe pods
(sangri) in preparation of curries and pickles.
Khejari tree has played a significant role in the rural
economy in the northwest arid region of Indian sub-continent. It is
the only indigenous tree species, which has withstood well the rigorous and exacting conditions of
the Rajasthan desert. This tree is a legume and it improves soil fertility. It is an important constituent of the
vegetation system. It is well adapted to the arid conditions and stands well to
the adverse vagaries of climate and browsing by animals. Camels and goats readily browse it. In areas open to goat browsing, the young plants assume
cauliflower shaped bushy appearance. Khejri tree used for fodder and fuelwood
in villages and provides wood of construction class. It is used for house-building, chiefly as rafters, posts scantlings, doors and windows, agricultural
implements and shafts, spokes, fellows and yoke of carts. It can also be used
for small turning work and tool-handles. is most important top feed species providing nutritious and
highly palatable green as well as dry fodder, which is readily eaten by camels,
cattle, sheep and goats, constituting a major feed requirement of desert livestock. Locally it is called Loong.
Shoot borer attacks khejri trees
Khejri (Prosopis cineraria) trees are becoming easy prey for
hungry beetles. A recent survey by the Arid Forest Research Institute
(afri), Jodhpur, reveals that insect attacks have taken a heavy toll on khejri trees in the state. The culprit has been identified as a
nearly-four-centimetre- long yellowish brown insect, the shoot borer (Derolus discicollis).
At present around 60-70 per cent trees are afflicted by the disease in
Nagaur district of Rajasthan, according to afri. Other affected areas
include Churu, Sikar and Jhunjhunu. Over the past few years, the number of khejri trees in some villages has fallen from 50 to five.
Though the alarming trend came to light in 1999, not much has been done
to improve the situation. Even afri, which conducted studies on the prevalence of the disease, has not yet been able to assess the extent of
damage. Its team, however, feels that excessive cutting of branches,
especially during drought, makes the tree vulnerable to insects. The stump of the tree is the perfect place for the insect to lay its eggs.
The larvae of the insect destroy the tissue of the trees by feeding on
the sap and heartwood. "Each year the number of new leaves lessen and
finally the tree dies," reveals K K Chaudhuri, director, afri. A tree can be entirely destroyed in two to three years.
Derolus discicollis was first identified in Karachi (Pakistan) in
1906. While the insect's lifecycle has been studied, its interaction with khejri was not considered. "The problem of khejri mortality is more
pronounced now, due to the continuing drought in the area," points out M
P Singh, a scientist in the Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur.
Khejri is the lifeline of the desert. It is an alternative source of income for many people in Rajasthan during the dry season. Besides being
the staple food of the livestock, khejri is also used as a fuelwood. A
decrease in its numbers is bound to have an adverse effect on the region's economy. "Due to its several
advantages, it was nominated as one of the 10 national trees of India," says S M Mohnot, director,
School of Desert Sciences, a Jodhpur-based non-governmental organisation.
A team of National Research Institute of Bagwani in Bikaner recently developed a new technology
for the growth of Kejari in a very short period. The team of agriculture scientist working on this project since 2005. Generally
a khejari tree takes 10-12 years to give friuts (Sangari). Now by the new technology a Kejari can be fully developed in 3 years up to
5 feet and will provide fruits and feeder for animals.
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2. KHEJRI (Prosopis cineraria): Published by the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun
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4. Trees or grass lands in the Rajasthan- Indian Forester Kaul, R.N. (1967).
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