Desert Date

Balanites aegyptiaca

Maasai men take shelter from the Sun under a Desert Date, Balanites aegyptiaca, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

A Desert Date, Balanites aegyptiaca, provides welcome shelter from the sun for Maasai villagers at Amboseli National Park, Kenya. March 2011.

large example from Kerio Valley

This specimen in Kerio Valley, Kenya, should be at the upper size limit. Dec. 2014.

Intense thorns of desert date, photo © Michael Plagens

The size of the leaves, thorns and even the whole plant is highly variable depending on the availability of water. The compound leaves appear paired at the end of a long petiole. Under xeric conditions the elyptic leaflets are relatively small and can turn rather scruffy and tough. At times the leaves seem secondary to the abundant, smooth, green thorns. The small, greenish flowers are arrrayed along the woody twigs and give rise to a drupe with brownish-yellowish fruit.

Zygophyllaceae -- Caltrop Family

greenish flower of Balanites aegyptiaca, desert date, photo © Michael Plagens  fruit of Balanites aegyptiaca from Kerio Valley

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Page created on 09 July 2011,
updated 6 Oct. 2015