Khejri Tree

Plant Kheri Trees

Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the Indian Khejri tree, is a native tree species of India. It belongs to the Fabaceae family and is considered an important plant species in arid and semi-arid regions of India. The tree has various traditional, cultural, and ecological values, and is considered sacred in many communities.

Tree CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameKhejri
Scientific NameProsopis cineraria
Maximum Height10-12 meters
Diameter of Crown when Mature10-12 meters
Diameter of Trunk when Mature0.5-1 meter
Years it takes to Grow5-7 years for seedling, 3-4 years for graft
Economic Benefit to FarmersFodder, Timber, Medicine, Fuel, Soil improvement, Shade, Wildlife habitat

Physical Characteristics

The Indian Khejri tree can grow up to a maximum height of 10-12 meters with a spreading crown. The tree has a crooked trunk with a diameter of about 2-3 meters. The bark is thick and rough, with deep fissures. The leaves are small, fern-like, and alternate, and the branches grow in a zig-zag pattern. The tree is deciduous, and the leaves fall during the dry season, while the tree remains dormant. The flowers are small and yellowish-green, and the fruits are flat pods with seeds inside.

Uses of Khejeri tree

The Khejri tree (Prosopis cineraria) is a versatile tree that has several uses in India. Some of the uses of the Khejri tree are:

Timber: The wood of the Khejri tree is hard, durable, and termite-resistant. It is used for making furniture, agricultural implements, and construction material.

Fodder: The Khejri tree provides a valuable source of fodder for livestock, particularly during the dry season when other vegetation is scarce. The leaves, pods, and bark of the tree are all used as fodder.

Medicine: The Khejri tree has several medicinal properties and is used in traditional Indian medicine for the treatment of various ailments. The bark of the tree is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery, while the gum is used to treat wounds and skin disorders.

Fuel: The wood of the Khejri tree is an excellent source of fuel and is used for cooking and heating.

Soil improvement: The Khejri tree has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, which improves soil fertility and helps in the growth of other crops.

Shade: The Khejri tree provides valuable shade to crops, animals, and people in arid and semi-arid regions.

Wildlife habitat: The Khejri tree provides habitat for several species of birds, insects, and animals, including the Indian gazelle and the desert fox.

In recent years, the Khejri tree has gained importance in agroforestry practices due to its ability to improve soil fertility and provide valuable fodder for livestock. The tree is also being planted as a part of various afforestation programs in India to prevent soil erosion, promote biodiversity, and combat desertification in arid and semi-arid regions.

Ecological Role

The Indian Khejri tree plays a significant ecological role in arid and semi-arid regions of India. It is a drought-tolerant tree and can survive in harsh climatic conditions. The tree is also known for its ability to fix nitrogen, which improves soil fertility. The tree helps in soil conservation and prevents desertification. It provides shade and shelter for many animals and birds, and its leaves and pods serve as a food source for herbivores.

Importance to Birds, Animals, and Insects

The Indian Khejri tree is a vital source of food and shelter for many birds, animals, and insects. The tree provides shelter and nesting sites for birds such as parakeets, doves, and owls. The pods and leaves are a food source for camels, goats, sheep, and cows. The tree also supports many insect species, including bees, butterflies, and moths.

Type of Soil and Temperature Range

The Indian Khejri tree can grow in a wide range of soils, including sandy, loamy, and saline soils. The tree prefers well-drained soils and can tolerate alkaline soils. The tree can grow in temperatures ranging from 25 to 45 degrees Celsius and can survive extreme temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius.

Climatic Conditions and States in India where it is found

The Indian Khejri tree is found naturally in arid and semi-arid regions of India, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. The tree requires a dry and hot climate, with low humidity and rainfall. It can withstand drought conditions and can survive long periods of water scarcity.

Different Stages of Tree Growth

The Indian Khejri tree has different growth stages, including germination, seedling, sapling, juvenile, and mature stages. The tree reaches maturity in about 10-15 years, and its growth rate slows down after that. The tree can live up to 200 years under favorable conditions.

Benefit to Farmers

Farmers in arid and semi-arid regions of India are increasingly adopting agroforestry practices, including growing the Indian Khejri tree. The tree has many benefits to farmers, including improving soil fertility, providing fodder for livestock, and preventing soil erosion. The tree also has commercial value, and farmers can sell its products such as gum and pods in the market.

Movement to protect Kheri tree in 1730 AD 

In 1730 AD, the village of Khejarli near Jodhpur in Rajasthan was the site of a significant environmental confrontation that had a lasting impact on the region. The incident is now known as the Khejarli Massacre and is considered a significant milestone in the history of environmental conservation in India.

The story goes that Amrita Devi, a member of the Bishnoi community, was horrified when she saw the local ruler’s men felling trees in the nearby forest, including the revered Khejri trees. The Bishnoi community had long been known for their deep reverence for nature and the Khejri tree, which they considered sacred. Amrita Devi, along with a group of women from the community, decided to put an end to the destruction of the forest and protect the Khejri trees.

When the ruler’s men returned to continue their work, Amrita Devi and the women stood in their way and refused to move. The men warned the women that they would face severe consequences if they continued to obstruct their work. However, the women stood their ground and continued to protect the trees. In the end, the men resorted to violence and killed Amrita Devi and over 360 other members of the Bishnoi community who were protecting the trees.

The Khejarli Massacre had a profound impact on the region and galvanized the movement for environmental conservation in India. It led to the enactment of laws and regulations for the protection of forests and wildlife, and the establishment of organizations such as the Forest Department and the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

Today, the Khejri tree continues to be revered by the Bishnoi community and is an essential part of the local ecology in arid and semi-arid regions of India. The legacy of Amrita Devi and the Bishnoi community’s sacrifice continues to inspire environmental activists and conservationists in India and around the world.


In conclusion, the Indian Khejri tree is an important tree species with various ecological, cultural, and traditional values in India. The tree plays a significant role in arid and semi-arid regions of the country, where it helps to prevent desertification and soil erosion, provides shade and shelter to animals and birds, and improves soil fertility.

The Indian Khejri tree is a drought-tolerant species and can survive in harsh climatic conditions, making it an essential tree for agroforestry practices. Farmers are increasingly adopting agroforestry practices, including growing the Indian Khejri tree, which provides many benefits such as improving soil fertility, providing fodder for livestock, and preventing soil erosion.

It is essential to promote the conservation and cultivation of the Indian Khejri tree to preserve its traditional and ecological values and support sustainable development in arid and semi-arid regions of India. The Indian government has taken steps to conserve and promote the cultivation of the Indian Khejri tree, including setting up nurseries, providing subsidies to farmers, and promoting awareness about its ecological and cultural values.

In conclusion, the Indian Khejri tree is a vital tree species with numerous benefits to the environment, animals, birds, and farmers. Its conservation and cultivation can help support sustainable development in arid and semi-arid regions of India and preserve its ecological and cultural values for future generations.

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