Tropical Grasslands (1991) Volume 25, 349–355

Production and nutritive value of browse species in semi-arid Kenya


KARI-National Dryland Farming Research Centre, Machakos, Kenya.


A number of Leucaena leucocephala accessions and cultivars, L. pulverulenta, and two Sesbania species were compared for their growth, dry matter production and nutritive value, in a semiarid bimodal rainfall environment of eastern Kenya. The total yield of S. sesban was greater than other species, and it continued to grow during the dry season after growth of the other species ceased. However its annual yield of edible dry matter was only 60% of that produced by L. leucocephala K8, L. leucocephala cv. Cunningham and L. leucocephala cv. Peru, which yielded 9060 kg, 8900 kg and 8500 kg/ha, respectively. S. grandiflora was the slowest growing and least productive. Nitrogen and lignin concentration, which were approximately 4% and 5% of edible dry matter, respectively, were similar for sesbanias and the highest yielding leucaenas.
L. leucocephala cvv. Cunningham and Peru and the accession K8 are the most suitable shrub legumes for this semi-arid environment. However as Sesbania sesban has demonstrated potential and is not susceptible to the psyllid pest, further research should be directed towards screening for better adapted accessions of Sesbania and developing appropriate management systems for increasing leaf yield

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