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Nutritional and ecoclimatic importance of indigenous and naturalized wild edible plant species in Ethiopia

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Wild edible plant species (WEPs) are sources of food, nutrition, and medicine to people. However, often, the nutritional value of WEPs is unknown. This study was conducted to determine proximate and mineral contents of Balanites aegyptiaca, Cordia africana and Ziziphus spina-christi fruit. Fruit samples were collected from 10 trees of each species from Northern and Rift Valley region of Ethiopia. Fruit samples from the same species and district were mixed to form a composite sample, then dried, ground to powder and used for chemical analysis. We found a comparable amount of mean crude protein contents in C. africana and B. aegyptiaca. The fiber content was higher in B. aegyptiaca and Z. spina-christi. Carbohydrate and energy content were higher in Z. spina-christi compared to other study species. We found higher values of calcium in B. aegyptiaca and Z. spina-christi potassium, iron and zinc contents of B. aegyptiaca and C. africana, exceeded the value found in Z. spina-christi by about 50%. Our findings confirmed that the studied food tree species are potential sources of macronutrients and minerals. Therefore, promoting their sustainable use and increasing their abundance on different landscapes through Agroforestry system is critical to improve food availability and landscape resilience to climate change impacts.

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