Ghaf Tree

Ghaf forest - (G. Simkins)
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Scientific Name Prosopis cineraria Arabic Name Ghaf, Harb, Awd, Hadheeb, Shibhan Tagged As Plant, Tree, Mimosa Endangered Status

Botanical Description

Evergreen tree up to 25m tall; trunk un-branched for several meters; branches droop, giving the canopy a rounded appearance with short triangular spines between leaves nodes; bark is fissured or cracked.


Grey-green; divided into two pinnae, each with 7-16 pairs of leaflets with pointed tips.


Tiny flowers on cylindrical spikes.


Pods cylindrical; slightly curved; yellow to reddish brown.


Flowering twice a year from March to May and from October to January.


The pods (fruits) form soon after flowering and grow rapidly in size within two months time it reach the full pods size.


Sand plains, dunes and wadi banks.


Common and widespread in the north-eastern part of the UAE.


Occurs naturally in the dry regions of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Arabia. Extremely drought tolerant, growing in areas with less than 75mm annual rain fall and temperatures of up to 50°C.

Grows at altitude from sea level up to 600m above sea level; favoured habitat sand plains and dunes or wadi banks.


The Ghaf is considered to be good fodder for camels and wild animals, as well as as being a valuable shade tree in barren sandy deserts. Historically, the Bedouin would eat the young leaves and seed pods. Wood from the trunk used as fuel and in construction.

Extracts of leaves used as eye drops; extracts of crushed pods used as ear drops; leaves chewed for toothache.

Ashes of burnt bark mixed with water to relieve pain in fractured bones; bark used for rheumatism and also applied to scorpion stings.