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Prosopis pallida H.B.K.

Syn.: Prosopis limensis Benth.
Kiawe (Hawaii), Algarroba

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


Very valuable for ornament, shelter in arid conditions, and for timber, fuel, and forage (fruits). Highly esteemed by foresters in Hawaii. Its cultivation might be encouraged in other warm and dry countries (Burkart, 1976). Leaves and pods, fed to cattle, donkeys, and other livestock, are eaten by wildlife. Pods sweeter than those of most other Prosopis species. In its native habitat they are made into a sweet syrup used to prepare various drinks. A potentially important species for plantations in hot, dry regions, especially where salinity makes the cultivation of other species difficult (NAS, 1980a).

Folk Medicine

No data available.


No data available.


Tree (or shrub on sterile soils) 8–20 m high, trunk to 60 cm in diameter, unarmed or spiny, with short axillary, uninodal, geminate, divergent spines less than 4 cm long. Leaves medium to small in size, pallid grayish-green when dry, (1–)2–4 jugate, pubescent, ciliolate to subglabrous; petiole short, with the rachis 0.8–4.5 cm long, pubescent; pinnae 1.5–6 cm long, with a sessile, cuplike gland at their junction; leaflets green or gray when dry, 6 to 15 pairs per pinna, approximate without touching or a little distant, pubescent or at least ciliolate, oblong-elliptic to ovate, obtuse or mucronate, firm, pinnatinerved below, 2.5–8.3 mm long x 1.4–4 mm broad. Racemes spiciform, much (2 to 3 times) longer than the leaves; rachis and the short peduncle pubescent, together 8–15 cm long; florets dense (200 to 250 per raceme), short-pedicelled, greenish-yellow; calyx ciliolate, 0.5–1.5 mm long; petals 2.5–3 mm long, free, villous within; stamens 5–7 mm long; ovary stipitate, villous. Legume straight or subfalcate, very similar to that of P. juliflora (Sw.) DC., but thicker, straw-yellow when ripe, with parallel margins, fleshy, sweet, edible, subcompressed, long or short stipitate with rounded base, and acuminate, sometimes nearly subquadrate-rectangular in transection, (6-)10–25 cm long 1.5 cm broad 5–9 mm thick; endocarp segments to 30, broader than long; seeds oblong, brown, 6.5 mm long (Burkart, 1976).


Reported from the South American Center of Diversity, kiawe, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate drought, lava, salt, and sand. Shallow-rooted, the species is subject to windthrow. Said to hybridize with P. juliflora in Ecuador. The tree may become an invader, forming annoying thickets (Burkart, 1976).


Native to Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador in the drier parts and along the Pacific coast. It has been naturalized in Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands, and perhaps elsewhere (Brazil); introduced for cultivation in India and Australia (NAS, 1980a; Burkart, 1976).


Probably ranging from Tropical Thorn to Moist through Subtropical Thorn to Moist Forest Life Zones, this species is estimated to tolerate annual precipitation of 2 to 13 dm and annual temperatures of 18 to 26°C. Ranges in soil adaptation from old lava flows to coastal sands.


Seed sown in new locations may require rhizobial inoculation. Can be irrigated with water half as salty as sea water. According to Felker et al (1981), P. pallida, P. articulata, and P. tamarugo grew well on an N-free medium equivalent to 1/2 seawater and grew slightly in full seawater.


No data available.

Yields and Economics

In the 1940's, nearly 181 MT honey were produced annually from the kiawe, once appraised as "the most valuable of all the introduced trees in the Hawaiian Islands. Prior to 1948, ca 500,000 bags of pods were collected annually as fodder in Hawaii (Neal, 1948).


Largely used for charcoal, the wood has a high calorific value.

Biotic Factors

Apparently attractive to termites and wood boring beetles like Clytus cornis. Psyllids feed on the shoots and leaf tips of this species, apparently more than others. Felker et al (1981) review the pest infestations of their Prosopis plantings with suggestions for their control.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update Thursday, January 8, 1998 by aw