Domestication potential of Marula (Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra) in South Africa and Namibia: 1. Phenotypic variation in fruit traits

Leakey, Roger, Shackleton, Sheona, and du Plessis, Pierre (2005) Domestication potential of Marula (Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra) in South Africa and Namibia: 1. Phenotypic variation in fruit traits. Agroforestry Systems, 64 (1). pp. 25-35.

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Studies of tree-to-tree variation in fruit traits are a pre-requisite for cultivar development. Fruits were collected from each of 63 marula (Sclerocarya birrea) trees in Bushbuckridge, South Africa and from 55 trees from the North Central Region of Namibia. The South African trees were in farmers fields, communal land and natural woodland, at three sites: Acornhoek road, Allandale/Green Valley and Andover/Wits Rural Facility. The Namibian trees were all from farmers fields in three areas: North east, North west and West. The fruits were partitioned into skin and flesh/juice to examine the extent of the variation found in different components of marula fruits from different trees. Namibian fruits were significantly larger than those from South Africa (26.7 vs 20.1 g), due to their greater pulp mass (22.2 vs 16.2 g), especially the flesh/juice component. In South African fruits, those from farmers fields were significantly larger in all components (Fruit mass = 23.6 vs 19.3 and 18.0 g in natural woodland and communal land respectively). In Namibia, mean fruit mass did not differ significantly across sites (25.5 − 27.0 g). However, within each sample there was highly significant and continuous variation between trees in the pulp (S Africa = 7.5 − 31.3 g; Namibia = 8.3 − 36.0 g) and flesh/juice mass (S Africa = 2.2 − 7.6g; Namibia = 3.8 − 22. 6g), indicating the potential for selection of trees producing superior products. The fruits of the Namibian trees were compared with the fruits from one superior tree (‘Namibian Wonder) with a mean fruit mass of 69.9 g The percentage frequency distribution of fruit mass from trees in farmers fields in South Africa was skewed, while being bimodal in North east and North west populations from Namibia, suggesting that at these sites farmers are engaged in domestication through truncated selection of the best mother trees. It is concluded that there are trees in on-farm populations that have great potential to be propagated vegetatively as selected cultivars.

Item ID: 5711
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1572-9680
Keywords: agroforestry; cultivar development; domestication; indigenous fruit; Sclerocarya birrea; Southern Africa; agroforestry tree products (AFTPs); tree improvement
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2009 01:08
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0799 Other Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 079999 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 60%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0705 Forestry Sciences > 070501 Agroforestry @ 40%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8202 Horticultural Crops > 820214 Tropical Fruit @ 80%
82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8201 Forestry > 820103 Integration of Farm and Forestry @ 20%
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