The Amazing Néré Tree

One of my favorite trees in Africa is the N�r� (Parkia biglobosa). This species is so useful that it has been preserved and cultivated around the villages and throughout the landscapes of west African countries. Below is a superb specimen outside the Environmental Education Center in Kinkon, Guinea in the Fouta Jalon Highlands, where I was visiting in December, 2006.

PICT0416.JPGAnother name is the African locust bean tree. The n�r� is a legume, and can therefore fix nitrogen. A more important use is to ferment the seeds to make a cooking condiment called soumbala, that is prized in local cooking around the region.

 This pictures shows the flower pods, which are bright red when mature.

 Parkia biglobosa flowers

This photo found on Flickr shows soumbala being processed and presented in the market.

Family at the market
Originally uploaded by v3ronique.

The caption says: “Little girl stays very close to her mother while she is making ‘soumbala’ or “Maggi” at the market. They are made of fermented seeds rolled into a ball and fried. “

This USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network article has botanical information.
This article, in pdf format, has general information about nere and its nursery requirements.

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