Balanites aegyptiaca is a species of tree , classified as a member of the Zygophyllaceae or Balanitaceae.  This tree is native to much of Africa and parts of the Middle East . 
There are many common names for this plant.  In English the fruit has been called desert date, soap berry tree or bush, Thron tree, Egyptian myrobalan, Egyptian balsam or Zachum oil tree;  in Arabic it is known as lalob , hidjihi , inteishit , and heglig ( hijlij ). In Hausa it is called aduwa, in Tamasheq, the Tuareg language taboraq , in Swahili mchunju and in Amharic bedena. 
Balanites aegyptiaca is found in the Sahel-Savannah region across Africa. It can be found in Many kinds of habitat, tolerating a wide variety of soil types from sand to heavy clay , and climatic moisture levels, from arid to subhumid.  It is relatively tolerant of flooding, livestock activity, and wildfire . 
The balanites aegyptiaca tree reaches 10 m (33 ft) in height with a narrow form. The branches have long, straight green spines arranged in spirals. The dark green compound leaves grow out of the base of the spines  and are made up of two leaflets which are variable in size and shape.  The fluted trunk has grayish-brown, ragged bark with yellow-green patches where it is shed. 
The inflorescence consists of bunches of a few flowers, which are either sessile or are bound on short stalks. The flower buds are ovoid and covered in a short tomentose pubescence. The individual flowers are greenish-yellow in color, hermaphroditic with five petals in radial symmetry and are 8-14 millimeters (0.31-0.55 in) in diameter. The pedicel of the inflorescence is gray in color, less than 10 mm (0.39 in) in length, although 15 mm (0.59 in) has been recorded in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The ellipsoid fruit is normally less than 4 cm (1.6 in) long and is green when not ripe; it ripens to a brown or pale brown fruit with a crispy skin a sticky brown or brown-green pulp around a hard stone. 
The carpenter ant Camponotus sericeus feeds the nectar exuded by the flowers. The larva of cabbage tree emperor moth Bunaea alkino causes defoliation of the tree. 
Balanites aegyptiaca has been cultivated in Egypt for more than 4000 years, and has been placed in the tombs as votive offerings have been found as far back as the Twelfth Dynasty . The tree was figured and described in 1592 by Prosper Alpinus under the name ‘agihalid’. Linnaeus seen as a species of Ximenia , but Adanson proposed the new genus of Agialid . The genus Balanites was founded in 1813 by Delile . 
The yellow, single- seeded fruit is edible, but bitter .  Many parts of the plant are used as famine foods in Africa; the leaves are eaten raw or cooked, the oily seed is made to be less bitter and eaten mixed with sorghum , and the flowers can be eaten.  The tree is considered valuable in arid regions because it produces fruit even in dry times.  The fruit can be fermented for alcoholic beverages . 
The seed cake is still being used as an animal fodder in Africa.  The seeds of the Balanites aegyptiaca have molluscicide effect on Biomphalaria pfeifferi . 
Where the species coexist, African elephants consumes the desert date. 
Desert date is mixed into porridge and eaten by nursing mothers, and the oil is consumed for headache and to improve lactation . 
Bark extracts and the fruit repel  or destroy  freshwater snails and copepods , organisms that act as intermediates hosts Schistosoma parasites , including Bilharzia , and guinea worm , respectively. Existing worm infections are similarly treated with desert dates, and are associated with spleen disorders. A decoction of the bark is also used as an abortifacient and an antidote for arrow poison in West African traditional medicine. 
The seed contains 30-48% fixed (non-volatile) oil , like the leaves, fruit pulp, bark and roots, and contains the sapogenins diosgenin and yamogenin .   Saponins likewise occur in the roots, bark wood and fruit. 
The tree is managed through agroforestry . It is planted along with irrigation and is used to attract insects for trapping.  The pale to brownish yellow wood is used to make furniture, and it is a low-smoke firewood and good charcoal .   The smaller trees and branches are used as living or cut fences because they are resilient and thorny.    The tree fixed nitrogen .  It is grown for its fruit in plantations in several areas.  The bark yields fibers , thenatural gums from the branches are used as glue , and the seeds have been used to make jewelry and beads . 
Various Sahel tribes use the thorn of the tree to make incisions that result in tattoos . 
The generic part of the binomial Balanites derives from the Greek word for an acorn and refers to the fruit, this name was coined by Alire Delile in 1813.  in Descr. Egypt, Hist. Nat. 221 1813 .  The specific name aegyptiacawas applied by Carl Linnaeus as the species was originally described from specimens collected in Egypt.  However, according to ICBN Art 62.4 : “Generic names ending in -anthes, -or -desides or -odes are treated as feminine and those ending in -ites as masculine, irrespective of the gender assigned to the original author.” Accordingly, the orthographic variant name that complies with ICBN Art 62.4 for this species is Balanites aegyptiacus .
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