Economic Botany

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 74–84 | Cite as

Folk Classification, Perception, and Preferences of Baobab Products in West Africa: Consequences for Species Conservation and Improvement

  • A. E. AssogbadjoEmail author
  • R. Glèlè Kakaï
  • F. J. Chadare
  • L. Thomson
  • T. Kyndt
  • B. Sinsin
  • P. Van Damme


Folk Classification, Perception, and Preferences of Baobab Products in West Africa: Consequences for Species Conservation and Improvement.The present study is a component of a baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) domestication research program being undertaken in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Senegal. Surveys conducted on a total of 129 women and 281 men of different ages included questions on perceptions and human/cultural meaning of morphological variation, use forms, preferences (desirable/undesirable traits), and links between traits. Local people in the four countries use 21 criteria to differentiate baobab individuals in situ. According to them, the easier the bark harvesting, the tastier the pulp and leaves; the slimier the pulp, the less tasty it is; the more closely longitudinally marked the fruit capsules, the tastier the pulp. This study shows that farmers are able to use preferred combinations of traits as a guide in collecting germplasm from trees. This can allow the selection of trees that would be candidates for propagation, and planning for a domestication program based on the indigenous knowledge.


Baobab indigenous knowledge preferences domestication ethnobotanical survey agroforestry West Africa 



This work is supported by Bioversity International and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., a Dupont Company, through the receipt of a Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship. We also thank The Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation for its additional financial support through The Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation, as well as The King Leopold III Fund for Nature Conservation and Exploration for its financial support for the fieldwork in West Africa. We thank all these institutions and their donors. Our acknowledgment also goes to the local people of Benin, Ghana, Senegal, and Burkina Faso, and to Ir. Hugues Akpona (LEA-FSA-Benin), Dr. Sina Sibidou (CNRS-Burkina-FasoBurkina Faso), Dr. Dogo Seck (CERRAS-Senegal), Dr. Macoumba Diouf (ISRA-Senegal), and Mr. Joseph Mireku (FORIG-Ghana).

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. E. Assogbadjo
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Glèlè Kakaï
    • 1
  • F. J. Chadare
    • 1
  • L. Thomson
    • 2
  • T. Kyndt
    • 3
  • B. Sinsin
    • 1
  • P. Van Damme
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Agronomic SciencesUniversity of Abomey-CalaviCotonouBenin
  2. 2.Bioversity InternationalMaccareseItaly
  3. 3.Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhentBelgium

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