Oil yield and quality variation between sexes in Osyris lanceolata (African sandalwood) and its value as a fodder plant in Tanzania

  • PL Mwang’ingo
  • G Kibodya
  • AR Mng’ong’o


African sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata) is widely harvested in East Africa for extraction of oil, which is used in the fragrance and perfumery industry. Over the years, harvesting of the species has been concentrated to female plants because it is claimed that they yield more and better quality oil compared to males. However, data to support these claims is lacking. Osyris lanceolata is also used extensively by pastoralists as feed supplement during the dry season, yet little information on the species’ nutritive value exists. Oil yield and quality variations between male and female O. lanceolata and its nutritive values were evaluated to ascertain the purported reasons for sex selectivity in harvesting, and to determine the potential value of the species as a fodder plant. Oil yield was determined by extracting oil from a known amount of wood, while quality assessment was done by determining the amount of santalol, a prime determinant of sandalwood oil quality. The species’ potential as a fodder plant was determined by analyzing the nutritive value and digestibility of leaves and fruits. There was no significant variation (p = 0.856) in oil yield between sexes, though populations differed significantly (P < 0.001). The highest oil yield was 9.32 ± 0.611%. Likewise, sexes did not differ significantly (P = 0.655) in oil quality, though populations differed significantly (P < 0.001). The highest santalol content was 11.1%. It is concluded that sex selectivity during harvesting has no relation to oil yield and quality. However, population selectivity is strongly justified due to the huge variation in oil yield and quality, and is likely to be the major reason for over-exploiting some populations. It is recommended that there is a need to refrain from overharvesting of females within populations, since the practice is likely to erode the genetic vigour of the species and affect its sustainability. Nutritive studies revealed the species to have 15.9–19.7% crude protein, 15.9–24.0% crude fibre, 0.77–0.81% fat/oil, 97.5–97.8% dry matter, 8.5–10.3% ash content, 72.2–72.4% digestibility. These figures are within the acceptable range, suggesting that both leaves and fruits of the species are a potential alternative source of animal protein where protein supplements are not available or expensive.

Southern Forests 2010, 72(2): 68–73

Author Biographies

PL Mwang’ingo
Faculty of Science, Sokoine University of Agriculture, PO Box 3038, Morogoro, Tanzania
G Kibodya
Faculty of Science, Sokoine University of Agriculture, PO Box 3038, Morogoro, Tanzania
AR Mng’ong’o
The Open University of Tanzania, PO Box 23409, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-2639
print ISSN: 2070-2620