Faidherbia albida is a truly multi-purpose tree in the African landscape. Native to the southern and eastern parts of Africa, the Ana tree is used ornamentally, for shade or shelter, fodder for animals or to improve soil quality in a wide range of habitats.
The fast growing tree is deciduous and can reach a height of 20 to 30 m. Faidherbia albida has an erect to rounded crown and spreading branches and the tree is armed with straight, whitish thorns carried in pairs. The bark can be rough and dark brown, to smooth and greenish grey with young branches typically being a white to ashy-grey. Foliage is pale green and leaves are lost during the rainy season, boosting the nutrient status of the soil.
Flowers appear from March to September as slender, creamy white spikes and are followed by fruit from September to December. The fruit is an unusual pod, conspicuously curled and twisted and colour can vary from reddish-brown to bright orange. The large pods contain dark brown, shiny seeds. Both the pods and seeds provide nutritious fodder for game and livestock.
The Ana tree is fairly drought resistant and it can survive occasional frost when mature. As it has an extensive, spreading root system, the tree is often planted in rows to combat and stabilize eroded soils. This tree is especially valuable in farming areas, but can be planted in large gardens where its ornamental properties will shine.