Prosopis cineraria, known as Shami, Khejri Tree, or Ghaf, is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is native to arid portions of Western Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, India, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. It is an established introduced species in parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia. It is the state tree of Rajasthan, where it is known as Khejri, and Telangana in India. A large and well-known example of the species is the Tree of Life in Bahrain – approximately 400 years old and growing in a desert devoid of any obvious sources of water.
camels, goats, donkeys and mules, which make up about 40% of the 19 million head of livestock in the region, depend on browsing to meet their nutrient requirements.
Khejri is well adapted to the very dry conditions in India and is found in zones with annual rainfall ranging from 150-500 mm; the optimum density is seen between 350-400 mm range. This plant produces leaves, flowers and fruit during the extreme dry months (March-June) when all other species adapted to arid zones are leafless and dormant. It is the characteristic which deserves greatest attention
as the tree offers a new forage resource for extreme arid zones. Khejri is a slow growing tree in its early stages, requiring 10-15 yrs to develop a height of 6 m, compared to 12-15 m in 4-5 yrs for Prosopis juliflora (Vilayti babool). An average tree yields 25-30 kg of dry leaf forage per year.
Khejri trees are ready to provide animal feed from the 10th year onwards and, if properly managed, may be kept in production for 2 centuries. Leaves contain 15% crude protein and 15-20% crude fibre. Calcium and phosphorus contents are 1.92% and 0.18%, respectively. Total digestible nutrients are 40%.