Griffonia grows naturally in the South of Togo, one of the rainiest parts of the country. The local population knows this plant very well and use it to feed livestock.
When Karine discovered our interest in the Griffonia grains, many families jumped at the opportunity. Just like Dahappy, many other women picked and dried the pursued material. This new income generating activity has improved the living conditions of many homes. Setting up a supply chain of this plant in Togo contributes to the economic development of 7 forest villages, by offering an alternative source of income to the families involved.
The seeds are round and smooth. They measure 15 to 20 mm in diameter and are 5 to 6 mm thick. The cuticle is black and the inside is greenish brown.
It’s a long vine with smooth brownish or black branches, which makes it look more like a shrub. The alternate leaves are simple and smooth. The petiole can measure up to 1.5 cm long and the oval leaf blade can measure 6 to 12cm by 3 to 6 cm. The latticed leaf veins are protruding on both faces. The inflorescence blooms in an axillary pyramidal cluster that is 5 to 20 cm long. The fruits are shaped like cylindrical oblique pods of about 8cm by 4 cm in size, with a 1 to 1.5 cm long feather grass. The fruits are swollen, leathery and contain 1 to 4 seeds.
The griffonia leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat wounds. The bark is also used in some areas to treat syphilis-related injuries. Stems play a role in oral hygiene (brushing teeth) and are often used as chewing sticks.
With a protein content close to 16% and a high palatability, the aerial part of Griffonia is recognized as a good quality forage for feeding animals. This is the main use of this plant in the areas where it grows.