New Forests

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 149–160 | Cite as

Domestication of Dacryodes edulis: 1. Phenotypic variation of fruit traits from 100 trees in southeast Nigeria

  • P. O. Anegbeh
  • V. Ukafor
  • C. Usoro
  • Z. Tchoundjeu
  • R. R. B. Leakey
  • K. Schreckenberg


A participatory approach to tree domestication is being pioneered by ICRAF and international partners in Cameroon and Nigeria. The domestication of Dacryodes edulis offers opportunities to improve the livelihoods of subsistence farmers and to diversify farming systems, such as cocoa farms. The trees produce marketable fruits as well as shade for cocoa and coffee. Twenty-four ripe fruits were collected from each of 100 D. edulis trees in Mgbuisi, southeast Nigeria by subsistence farmers. There was continuous and significant tree-to-tree variation in fruit mass (10.2±0.5–71.4±1.3 g), flesh mass (6.8±0.3– 62.2±1.2 g) and kernel mass (1.3±0.5–15.1±0.4 g). Mean fruit mass did not differ significantly between different land uses. Flesh mass:kernel mass ratio varied from 0.79 to 29.0. Two trees had fruits without kernels. There was also continuous and significant tree-to-tree variation in fruit length (39.0±0.6– 95.1±1.2 mm), fruit width (21.82±0.16–43.75±0.33 mm) and flesh thickness (1.82±0.1–6.39± 0.1 mm). Fruit length:width ratio varied from 1.35 to 3.18. Cooked fruits varied in taste with only 14% of trees getting the highest score. Similarly, fruits varied in oiliness with only 3% of trees getting the highest score. Thirteen skin colours were recorded, with the most common being dark blue (31%), greyish violet (29%) and deep blue (9%). Ninety-nine percent of the trees had been planted, with 57% in homegardens, 22% in crop fields, 17% in fallow land and 4% in cocoa. Tree height ranged from 4 to 22m, and DBH from 9.55 to 63.65 cm. Tree age ranged from 5 to 64 years. Farmers reported first fruiting from age 3 up to 22 years (average of 9.4 years). Most trees originated from seeds bought in markets (63%). Market prices of fruits from different trees, ranged from 2 to 12 fruits for 10 Naira (US0.07). These quantitative results will help in the identification of elite trees of D. edulis for cultivar development through clonal propagation.


African pear African plum Intraspecific genetic diversity Non-timber forest products Safou Variation descriptors 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. O. Anegbeh
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. Ukafor
    • 3
  • C. Usoro
    • 4
  • Z. Tchoundjeu
    • 5
  • R. R. B. Leakey
    • 6
    • 7
  • K. Schreckenberg
    • 8
  1. 1.IITA High Rainfall Station, IFAD-ICRAF-IITA Agroforestry ProjectWorld Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)OnneNchiaNigeria
  2. 2.Carolyn HouseIITA, LW Lambourn CoCroydonUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.Department of Crop/Soil Science and ForestryRivers State University of Science and TechnologyPort HarcourtNigeria
  4. 4.Department of Agricultural Economics and ExtensionRivers State University of Science and TechnologyPort HarcourtNigeria
  5. 5.IFAD-ICRAFIRAD Agroforestry ProjectYaoundéCameroon
  6. 6.Bush EstateCentre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)Penicuik, MidlothianUK
  7. 7.Agroforestry and Novel Crops Unit, School of Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityQueenslandAustralia
  8. 8.Overseas Development Institute (ODI)UK

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