Dichrostachys cinerea

Accession Count: 7
Common Name: Sickle Bush
Family Name: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Dichrostachys cinerea
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics:
Compound: Dic cin
Geographic Origin: Tropical Africa
Ecozone Origin: Afrotropic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: The Sickle bush was first found in West Africa and is still widespread in its native land. Since then it has been introduced in the West Indies in the 19th Century. It is also found in Sri Lanka, Australia, India, and Madagascar. The Sickle bush in considered an invasive weed and can cause problems to other plants because of its ability to spread fast, grow fast, disperse numerous seeds, and the seed’s ability to last in soil up until a year. The sickle bush is also fire resistant and makes it hard to manage the spread and over growth of this plant. Natural enemies exist that act as a biocontrol agent. The fungus Uiedo deformus found in Sri Lanka, and the insects Ctenoplusia albostriata and Kerria Locca are some the currently identified natural enemies (none of which is native in the U.S.). The plant is bat pollinated under normal conditions, but may be insect pollinated on some occasions.
Cultivation Notes: In order to successfully cultivate the sickle bush one must soak seeds in hot water and then let cool and leave the seeds in the cooled water for 24 hours. The mixture of soil for optimum growth is 1 part soil (course sand or soil) and 3 parts compost. Minimal water and sunlight is needed for this shrub. The early on plants need to be protected from frost, but in their adult years Dichrostachys cinerea can tolerate medium amounts of frost. Pruning is needed to keep the sickle bush neat. The sickle bush is mostly found in warm dry savannas, however the sickle bush can grow in more than 3 climate groups. It also has positive effects to the nitrogen levels in the soil. 
Ethnobotany:

In some places the dried
leaves and flowers of the sickle bush mixed with honey provides cures for
stomach ulcers (if taken before food), and pains due to wounds. An alternate
form for curing stomach ulcers is mixing leaf extracts and mixing with milk.
The leaves and fruits can also be ingredients in animal feed as the sickle pod
is nutritious and eaten by animals in nature. The sickle bush has also been
used as a snake venom antidote and well as treatment for some STDs, and also
has many astringent qualities. <o:p></o:p>


Height: 6 - 10 feet
Width: 0 - 5 feet
Growth Rate: Fast Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Spring
Color: Pink
Function: Shade
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Invasive
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Hardy
Water Use: Low water Use
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Dichrostachys cinerea