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  Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, Volume 48, Number 3, 2014. 205  Samanea saman,  a multi-purpose tree with potentialities as alternative feed for animals of productive interest Denia C. Delgado 1 , Rosario Hera 2 , J. Cairo 1  and Ybett Orta 1 1  Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba 2  Instituto Tecnológico de Culiacán, Sinaloa, México Email: ddelgado@.co.cu For demonstrating the raintree ( Samanea saman  (Jacq.) potentiality as feed for animals of productive interest, the chemical composition was studied in the foliage, fruit and seeds: dry matter, crude protein, ash, neutral detergent ber, acid detergent ber, lignin, calcium and  phosphorus concentration and presence of secondary metabolites. The existence of the main secondary metabolites, among them saponins and tannins was moderate or slight in all the studied fractions. Seeds contribute signicantly to the nutritional value of the fruit. It is concluded that the fruits as well as the S. saman  foliage contain acceptable levels of protein and minerals, moderate to slight presence of secondary metabolites and low levels of ber, characterizing them as adequate forage resources for complementing the nutrient decit in grazing ruminants and in other productive species. The foliage is less palatable, but presents antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that can justify its use.Key words: raintree (Samanea saman), foliage, fruits, nutritional value, alternative medicine INTRODUCTION The utilization of natural resources in a rational and sustainable way is a viable option for obtaining  prots in agricultural activities (FAO 2012). Forage trees and shrubs are an inexhaustible nutrient source contributing feed of good quality the greatest part of the year that improve the animal diet and reduce the use of concentrates in agricultural exploitations (De Andrade et al.  2008 and Ortega 2012). Samanea  saman  (Jacq.) Merr. is a large size tree native to the American dry tropic generalized throughout the whole humid and sub-humid tropics. It extends from Mexico  by all over Central America toward Colombia and Venezuela in South America. Also, it is naturalized and widely scattered in the greatest part of the Caribbean islands, mainly in Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, as well as in Pacic islands (Staples and Elevitch 2006). The raintree shows particular characteristics. It offers excellent shade, wood and produces and distributes great quantity of fruits (pods) of high nutritive quality that are important cattle forage supplements during the dry period. Its incorporation to the diets, in levels  between 10-30 %, reveals increase in weight and in milk  production in dairy cows and other productive species (Roncallo et al.  2009). Although this tree outstands among the promising agroforestry species, there is  poor information available supporting its potentialities. The objective of this study was to demonstrate the  possibilities of the S. saman  tree as alternative feed for  productive animals. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF  S. SAMAN  It is a tall tree that in its natural habitat can attain  between 10 and 25 m high. The top is wide and symmetric supported by horizontal branches widely extended in the form of umbrella with feathery foliage. Its bark is rough, grayish brown with horizontal lines. It has composite, alternate, bi-pinned leaves of 3-9 pairs of 10-34 cm width and 20-40 cm length with pilose rachis. During the dry periods of poor rainfall, trees are semi-deciduous and lose their leaves in short time. Leaves are slightly sensible to light and close during the night (Staples and Elevitch 2006 and Schmidt 2008). The raintree owers between January and May, with variations depending of the geography of the  place where it grows. The owering peak occurs in April and May. Flowers are of light pink color arranged in umbels. They got together in bright and colorful inorescences located at the end of the small  branches.Fruits are pulses or pods (8 to 20 cm long, 15-19 mm wide and 6 mm thick). They are straight or slightly bended, green and eshy before ripening and dark, brown once they ripe. They contain a dry, dark, sweet and nutritive pulp surrounded by 5 to 10 seeds. Fruit ripening is produced from February to May. Seeds are thicken, oblong, ellipsoidal from 8-11.5 mm length and of 5-7.5 mm width slightly attened at the sides, of brown color. Each pod has from 15 to 20 seeds. The average weight for the fruits is 11.23 g, corresponding to the seeds 22.74 % of this weight.  Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, Volume 48, Number 3, 2014 206 ECOLOGY, PROPAGATION AND HANDLING The raintree grows in light, medium and heavy soils and also adapts to alkaline and acid conditions. It can tolerate ooding for short periods, but it is intolerant to shade and cold. It requires irrigation when young being more resistant to drought when it reaches adulthood. Its most common way of  propagation is by seeds, but also reproduces by cutting and roots (Selvam 2007). NUTRITIVE VALUE OF  S. SAMAN  The search for appropriate alternatives for guaranteeing the nutritional requirements of the animals turns to be a priority from the present problems facing livestock production in tropical countries, especially in dry periods (Pearson and Langridge 2008).The tropic is rich in tree and shrub-like plants adapted to local conditions with great potential as cattle feed. Of special importance are some tree legume species as the raintree ( S. saman ),  Prosopis julifora ,  Acacia farnesiana  and  Enterolobium cyclocarpum  that in addition of their environmental benets, offer extremely amounts of sugars and proteins per tree yearly (Navas et al.  2001a). CHEMICAL COMPOSITION Table 1 shows data obtained by different authors in studies carried out in Latin America and the Caribbean, regarding the chemical composition of S. saman  foliage.The average CP was higher than 20 %, similar to what was reported by León et al.  (2012) with different tropical forage legumes. The brous fraction of the foliages exhibited levels of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent ber (ADF) of 46.3 and 33.2 %, respectively with a mean of 14.8 % for lignin. These results coincide with those reported by Juárez et al.  (2004) on evaluating a group of forage tree legumes introduced in Veracruz, Mexico. These authors obtained  NDF and ADF concentrations between 40 and 54 and 17 and 39 %, respectively, while lignin ranged between 6 and 14 %.Ojeda et al.  (2012a) found that from May to October the cell wall of the raintree increased its lignication level. This factor must be considered in its nutritional assessment due to the high negative correlation between lignin and voluntary intake in ruminants (van Soest et al.  1991). The presence of lipid compounds in the foliages confers higher energy value on them. Mean concentration of ether extract (EE) in the raintree was of 4.4 %, higher than 3.3 % reported by Delgado et al.  (2001) in four tropical forage trees demonstrating the quality of the material under study. Ca and P contents varied between 0.2 and 1.3 % and 0.1 and 0.3 %, respectively. Also they are in correspondence with those reported in different tropical foliage (Delgado et al.  2007 ab).The chemical composition of S. saman  foliage  performed similarly to what was reported in the literature for the edible fraction of this species (Pedraza et al.  2003b, García et al.  2006 and Pedraza et al.  2007) and of other tropical Fabaceae (García and Medina 2006).The physical indicators of the forages play an important function in the passage and digestion of brous feeds. The measurements related to the nutritional value of the foliage are the volumetric density (VD), the water retention capacity (RCw), the average particle size and the solubility of the organic matter and of the mineral fraction. Korbut et al.  (2009) studied these indicators in different foliages and indicated that the VD value for S.  saman  was very similar to the average obtained among all studied trees and similar to the general mean of 0.26 g/mL ± 0.04 obtained by Giger-Reverdin (2000) for brous materials. DM Ash CPNDF ADF LigninEECaP Authors Foliage-5.920.142.825.911.14.51.10.1Ojeda et al.  (2012a)Foliage35.9-20.761.440.917.43.70.80.1Ojeda et al.  (2012b)Foliage-6.918.141.429.5--1.30.3Galindo et al.  (2012)Foliage-3.820.056.540.915.9-1.00.1Korbut et al.  (2009)Young leaves--30.933.825.4--0.20.3Narvaes y Lascano (2004)Mature leaves--22.647.536.9--0.40.2Foliage meal45.46.912.6---4.92.40.2Macías y García (2004)Foliage-3.124.540.7-----García et al.  (2008) Average 40.64.721.346.333.214.84.41.00.1-SD-1.65.28.97.02.70.50.70.08-Table 1. Chemical composition of S. saman  foliage obtained in different zones of Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba  Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, Volume 48, Number 3, 2014. 207 DM Ash CPNDF ADF LigninEECaP Authors Fruits 93.14.518.129.224.61.4-- Anantasook y Wanapat (2012) ,Thailand Fruits60.55.024.553.042.020.015.0--Babayemi et al.  2010Fruits 79.51.310.2---5.20.20.2 Tacón (1987), Latin America and the CaribbeanSeeds86.54.227.3---0.60.10.3Fruits-4.214.031.523.77.91.10.30.3Cecconello et al.  (2003), Venezuela Seeds--30.0------Fruits85.43.316.633.825.94.7-0.30.2 Beltrán (2012), Eastern zone of Cuba Seeds 95.73.425.329.623.25.4-0.40.1 The RCw for forages ranges between 3.80 mL/g for alfalfa hay and 8.87 mL/g for corncob. S. saman  showed RCw value slightly lower to these gures and the OM solubility was of 9.5 % in correspondence with the rest of the foliages under study (Korbut et al.  2009). S. saman  offers high pod production during the dry season, very palatable, with high protein value, advisable as supplement for animal feeding with poor quality diets. Studies aimed at determining the chemical composition of the foliage, fruits and seeds of S. saman  for their use as supplement in animal feeding, demonstrated their  potentialities as feed for ruminants and monogastrics.The literature indicates that the CP level of the whole ripe pods (even the seeds) is between 14 and 18 % while the seed contains 30-37 % (Esuoso 1996). Table 2 shows the results of the chemical composition of the whole fruit and the seeds obtained in experiments realized in different countries. It can be indicated that CP is between 10 and 18 % and 23 and 30 % for the whole fruit and seeds, respectively coinciding with the  previous information.On comparing the nutrient contents of S. saman   pods with the fruits of other woody forage legumes, commonly consumed by ruminants: ( Chloroleucon manguense ,  Enterolobium cyclocarpum ,  Acacia macracantha , Senna atomaria , Caesalpinia granadillo  and Caesalpinia coriaria ) it was found in all species studied high CP contents (16-30 %) and nitrogen free extract (Cecconello et al.  2003), as well as high levels of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur and copper. This represents an important source of nutrients during the dry period for grazing ruminants.The above cited authors conrmed that S. saman  together with  E. cyclocarpum  and  A. macracanth , is within the species that showed higher phosphorus levels (0.27 to 0.32 %) than those in tropical pastures (0.03 to 0.10 %), thus these fruits can cover the requirements of this mineral for beef cattle. In the results reported in Cuba (Beltrán 2012), P content was lower (0.12 %). This could be due to the characteristics of the soils from where the samples came. In general, it concerns soils of low contents of this mineral and this have an effect on the P concentrations in the plants. S. saman  fruit presents in its composition other not less important nutrients. Early studies carried out by Esuoso (1996) indicated that in the eshy mesocarp, sugars represent 32.65 % of the total nutrient content and of the four types of sugars identied. Fructose was predominant with a concentration of 16.20 %. The fruit of the raintree is oleiferous. The oil obtained from the seeds contains 5.6 % of free fatty acids and it is composed of nine fatty acids. From them, more than 90 % are unsaturated (Esuoso 1996). Table 2. Chemical composition of the whole fruits and seeds of S. saman PRESENCE OF SECONDARY COMPOUNDS IN  S. SAMAN   FRUITS AND FOLIAGE Plants produce substances as defense against their  predators, known as secondary compounds (Jiménez et al.  2011). In spite that they are considered harmful, in some cases could be benecial for the animal, especially in ruminants.Some reports indicate the toxicity of S. saman  leaves and pods. Escobar (1972) stated that seeds and the leaf extract are extremely toxic, due to the PITECOLOBINA, which is a toxic alkaloid with abortion-inducing  properties. However, the toxicological studies of Leonard and Sherratt (1967) on purified PITECOLOBINA showed that although the intra-peritoneal injection in mice provoked convulsions, in a six-month feeding essay in rats there was no symptoms. Moreover, animals gain weight.The phytochemical sieving of the raintree pods revealed the presence of moderate amounts of the main secondary metabolites, among them saponins, steroids, alkaloids, avonoids, tannins and resins. However, there was no presence of terpenoids, glucosides or acid compounds (Obasi et al.  2010). Qualitative and quantitative analyses of tannins demonstrated that these were of the condensed type (catecol), formed by cyanidin, catequin, epicatechin, antocyanidin monoglycone, delphinidin and malidin, with approximate value of 7.9 % (0.979 g) (Ukoha et al.  2011). These components have synergism and demonstrate antimicrobial potential  because the fruit could serve not only as agglutinating  Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, Volume 48, Number 3, 2014 208 agent of protein and other benecial compounds for the animals, but also as a new nutraceutic tea, rich in energy and tannins, destined to human use. In table 3 are shown the secondary compounds  present in the foliage and fruits of S. saman  collected at the Eastern region of Cuba (Delgado et al.  2012).The moderate presence of saponins in the fruits could have favorable effect for the animals. Various researchers report that the consumption of saponins decreases the amount of protozoa in the rumen (Hu et al.  2007). This favors the nitrogen economy, mainly in  poor quality diets.Other studies, related to the presence of secondary compounds in the foliage of raintree and other tropical legumes (Pedraza et al.  2003a), conrmed the presence of tannins in all the plants. The raintree and the gliricidia also present saponins. The unfaunal effect of tannins and saponins in the foliage and the fruit of S. saman  could also contribute to the reduction of the methanogenesis and these contributing environmental benets. Metabolite FruitSeedFoliage Alkaloids +++-Tannins++++Saponins++++ Nitrogenous compounds++++++NDGlucosides+++-NDResines+++NDMucilages+++NDTable 3. Presence of secondary metabolites in the whole fruit and seeds of S. saman  ND: Not determined + low presence ++ mean presence +++ high  presence PALATABILITY OF  S. SAMAN   FRUITS AND FOLIAGE For a long time the palatability of the raintree fruits for cattle is admitted. Von Mueller (1891), cited by Durr (2001), indicated that the main utility of the tree is in its eshy pods, which are produced in great quantity and are a very good fattening forage for all type of grazing animals. This observation was conrmed in the case of bovines, pigs, sheep and goats. Horses, however, seem that only consumed the  pods when other fruits and the forage are not available (Janzen 1983).In contrast with the good taste of the fruits, there are few detailed studies on the acceptability of the foliage. Available results are anecdotal and somewhat contradictory. Durr (1992) reported that in Nicaragua the foliage is not very attractive for the cattle and leaf consumption, in reasonable amount, is only  produced when pasture is scarce. Even so, ingestion is limited, to a great extent, to regrowths and young trees. Morrison et al.  (1996) found similar results in Jamaica. However, Conklin et al.  (1991) classied as high the palatability of the leaves in Costa Rica. Lowry et al.  (1992) reported that in Indonesia goats consumed the leaves routinely. In a cafeteria trial, through consumption measurements of twelve tropical foliages, realized in the state of Trujillo, Venezuela (García et al.  2008), the preference of young bovines for the foliage of twelve species was evaluated. These were: Samanea saman , Chlorophora tinctoria ,  Morus alba ,  Pithecellobium pedicellare , Gliricidia  sepium , Guazuma ulmifolia , Cordia alba , Trichantera gigantea , Tithonia diversifolia ,  Leucaena leucocephala ,  Moringa oleifera  and  Azadirachta indica . Among the least consumed plants was S. saman  (58.72 g DM) regarding to three of the foliages more used in ruminant feeding:  L. leucocephala  (325.63 g DM),  M. alba  (293.37 g DM) and G. ulmifolia  (292.48 g DM.d -1 ). In an acceptability study of six legume foliages and six hours of supply in the feeding trough (Pedraza et al.  2003b), the S. saman  foliage showed, in the same way, low consumptions in cattle, sheep and goats (0.48, 0.25 and 0.68 g DM/kg LW, respectively), compared to the foliages of  L. leucocephala ,  M. alba  or G. sepium  (0.69-2.07 g DM kg LW -1 ) in cattle and between 1.07 and 2.47 g DM kg LW -1  in smaller species. According to García et al.  (2008), the variations in consumption could be associated to the nutritive quality and to the presence of secondary compounds with aversive or stimulating consumption characteristics and their interaction with the type of animal. However, in some acceptability studies, carried out with bovines and sheep, no relationship of consumption was found with the presence of polyphenolic metabolites (Pinto et al.  2005 and Sandoval et al.  2005). This demonstrates that, in many cases, the acceptability is a phenomenon in which many factors mediate and, in occasions, difcult to understand.
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