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Aeschynomene elaphroxylon

Aeschynomene elaphroxylon also known as an ambatch, pith tree or Balsa wood tree is a common large shrub to small tree of the genus Aeschynomene in the Fabaceae family. It can grow up to 9 m high, with spiny stems, and pairs of substantial thorns under the base of leaves.[1]

A. elaphroxylon is indigenous to parts of tropical Africa. It typically grows by water and in water logged soils, such as by rivers, lakes and swamps in countries like Ghana and Nigeria, but is widespread across tropical Africa to Ethiopia and Sudan, and further south and east in Zimbabwe.[2][3]

The seeds of A. elaphroxylon have been known to stay viable after being buried for a few years in the waterlogged banks where it grows well.[4] The seeds are contained in pods that grow in flattened, erect spirals on the tree. The tree has nitrogen fixing nodules in its stem.[3]

In Ethiopia the species can be found in the Nechisar National Park.[5]


  1. ^ Arbonnier, Michel (2004). Trees, Shrubs and Lianas of West African Dry Zones. Quae. ISBN 2-87614-579-0. 
  2. ^ Burkill, H.M. 1985. The useful plants of west tropical Africa, Vol 3
  3. ^ a b Dommergues, Y.R.; G.H. Diem (editors) (1982). Microbiology of Tropical Soils and Plant Productivity. Springer. ISBN 90-247-2624-7. 
  4. ^ Fraser, Lauchlan H.; Paul A. Keddy (editors) (2005). The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-83404-X. 
  5. ^ Nechisar National Park,, January 4, 2006, Retrieved on June 22, 2008


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