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Cruz-Martins, N. Prosopis Plant. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 04 December 2023).
Cruz-Martins N. Prosopis Plant. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 04, 2023.
Cruz-Martins, Natália. "Prosopis Plant" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 04, 2023).
Cruz-Martins, N.(2021, July 22). Prosopis Plant. In Encyclopedia.
Cruz-Martins, Natália. "Prosopis Plant." Encyclopedia. Web. 22 July, 2021.
Prosopis Plant

Members of the Prosopis genus are native to America, Africa and Asia, and have long been used in traditional medicine. The Prosopis species most commonly used for medicinal purposes are P. africana, P. alba, P. cineraria, P. farcta, P. glandulosa, P. juliflora, P. nigra, P. ruscifolia and P. spicigera, which are highly effective in asthma, birth/postpartum pains, callouses, conjunctivitis, diabetes, diarrhea, expectorant, fever, flu, lactation, liver infection, malaria, otitis, pains, pediculosis, rheumatism, scabies, skin inflammations, spasm, stomach ache, bladder and pancreas stone removal. Flour, syrup, and beverages from Prosopis pods have also been potentially used for foods and food supplement formulation in many regions of the world. In addition, various in vitro and in vivo studies have revealed interesting antiplasmodial, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, antidiabetic and wound healing effects. The phytochemical composition of Prosopis plants, namely their content of C-glycosyl flavones (such as schaftoside, isoschaftoside, vicenin II, vitexin and isovitexin) has been increasingly correlated with the observed biological effects. 

Prosopis vitexin C-glycosyl flavones food preservative antiplasmodial wound healing potential

1. Introduction

Medicinal plants have been used since the beginning of human civilization to treat various diseases. Different properties have been discovered for each plant, due to many researchers’ focus on plants as a natural resource for treating human health [1][2]. Of the various medicinal plants, species belonging to the Prosopis genus have been widely used in folk medicine. The Prosopis genus belongs to the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family, and includes about 45 species of spiny trees and shrubs. This genus is found in both subtropical and tropical areas of the world. Briefly, species belonging to the Prosopis genus have been traditionally used for the treatment of asthma, birth/postpartum pains, callouses, conjunctivitis, diabetes, diarrhea, expectorant, fever, flu, lactation, liver infection, malaria, otitis, pains, pediculosis, rheumatism, scabies, skin inflammations, spasm, stomach ache, removal of bladder and pancreas stones, among other applications [3][4][5]. On the other hand, in addition to being being used for centuries for medicinal purposes Prosopis plants are also of commercial interest. The paste, gum, and leaves and pods smoke of Prosopis plants possess various bioactive properties, such as anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant effects [6][7][8]. These effects have been increasingly correlated with their content in phytoconstituents, namely flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, quinones and phenolics. Indeed, Prosopis plants have been reported as a rich source of phenolic compounds, being anthocyanins and the flavonoids apigenin, luteolin, quercetin and their derivatives the most abundant ones [9][10][11].
Thus, and given the above highlighted aspects, the aim of this review is to provide an in-depth overview of the literature data on the biological activities of the Prosopis genus, and to present its potential benefits and applications in both the pharmaceutical and food industries.

2. Prosopis Plants Phytochemical Composition

Epidemiological studies have suggested an inverse association between the consumption of phytochemicals (such as carotenoids and phenolics) and a reduced risk of certain diseases, namely chronic disorders [12]. Medicinal plants, and specifically Prosopis plants, are rich sources of phytochemicals, among them alkaloids, phenolic compounds, particularly flavonoids (Figure 1Figure 2) and phenolic acids (Figure 3), glycosides, steroids, tannins and triterpenoids, increasingly recognized as having positive health effects.
Figure 1. Structures of the main flavonoids in Prosopis plants.
Figure 2. Structures of some C- glycosyl flavones from Prosopis plants.
Figure 3. Chemical structures of some phenolic acids from Prosopis plants.
Several studies have been conducted to identify and quantify the chemical composition of Prosopis plants. The most commonly studied plants and their abundance in phytochemicals are listed in Table 1.
Table 1. Identification/quantification of phytochemicals in Prosopis species.
Prosopis Plant and Part Identified/Quantified Phytochemicals References
P. alba flours Isovitexin (1.12–0.48 μg/mg) [9]
Vicenin II (1.07–0.34 μg/mg)
Vitexin (0.91–0.47 μg/mg)
Schaftoside (0.42–0.00 μg/mg)
Ferulic acid (4.01–0.28 μg/mg)
Coumaric acid (3.94–0.33 μg/mg)
P. alba pods Q-dihexoside rhamnoside [10]
Q-methylether dihexoside
Q-rhamnoside hexoside
P. alba flour Isoschaftoside hexoside (2.43 mg/g) [13]
Schaftoside hexoside (3.33 mg/g)
Vicenin II/Isomer (0.67 mg/g)
Vicenin II/Isomer (2.34 mg/g)
Isoschaftoside (23.67 mg/g)
Schaftoside (14.86 mg/g)
Vitexin (0.46 mg/g)
Isovitexin (2.09 mg/g)
P. alba exudate gum Ferulic acid 4-glucuronide (E) [11]
Apigetrin, chrysin (E)
Chlorogenic acid (E and NE)
3-O-feruloylquinic acid (E)
p-Coumaroylquinic acid (E)
Valoneic acid dilactone (E)
Digallic acid (E)
Ferulic acid (NE)
Esculetin derivative (NE)
7-O-Methylapigenin (NE)
P. nigra pods Cyanidin rhamnosyl hexoside [10]
Malvidin dihexoside
Cyanidin malonoyl hexoside
Malvidin rhamnosyl hexoside
Vicenin II
Q-dihexoside rhamnoside
Q-hexoside rhamnose
K-hexoside rhamnoside
Apigenin hexoside rhamnoside
Q methyl ether hexoside rhamnoside
K-methyl ether hexoside rhamnoside
P. nigra flour Vicenin II (0.34 μg/mg) [14]
Schaftoside (0.24 μg/mg)
Isoschaftoside (0.27 μg/mg)
Isovitexin (0.81 μg/mg)
Protocatechuic acid (0.33 μg/mg)
Coumaric acid (8.16 μg/mg)
Ferulic acid (4.47 μg/mg)
P. cineraria Protocatechuic acid (31.65 mg/g) Chlorogenic acid (22.31 mg/g) [15][16][17]
Caffeic acid (6.02 mg/g)
Ferulic acid (9.24 mg/g)
Prosogerin A, B, C and D
Gallic acid
P. laevigata Gallic acid (8–25 mg/100 g) [18]
Coumaric acid (335–635 mg/100 g)
Catechin (162.5 mg/100g)
Gallocatechin (340–648 mg/100 g)
Epicatechin gallate (10–71 mg/100 g)
Rutin (222.4–256.1 mg/100 g)
Morin (236.5 mg/100 g)
Naringenin (20 mg/100 g)
Luteolin (13 mg/100 g)
P. juliflora 4′-O-Methylgallocatechin [19][20]
Chrysoeriol 7-O-glucoside
Luteolin 7-O-glucoside
Kaempferol 3-O-methyl ether
Quercitin 3-O-methyl ether
Isoharmentin 3-O-glucoside
Isoharmentin 3-O-rutinoside
Quercitin 3-O-rutinoside
Quercitin 3-O-diglycoside
P. glandulosa Gallic acid (8.203 mg/g) [21]
Hydroxybenzoic acid (1.797 mg/g)
Pyrocatechol (5.538 mg/g)
Caffeic acid (0.295 mg/g)
Ferulic acid (0.466 mg/g)
Quercetin (0.045 mg/g)

3. Traditional Medicinal Uses of Prosopis Plants

Recent ethnopharmacological studies have shown that P. africanaP. albaP. cinerariaP. farctaP. glandulosaP. julifloraP. nigraP. ruscifolia and P. spicigera are amongst the most commonly used Prosopis plants in folk medicine treatments. As shown in Table 2, different Prosopis plants parts are used in diverse regions of the world for the treatment of various diseases. In particular, the positive health effects of P. cinerariaP. juliflora and P. africana have been well-documented [3][4][5][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22].
Table 2. Prosopis plants traditionally used in the treatment of various diseases in diverse regions of the world.
Scientific Name Location Local Name Parts Used Administration Disease(s) Treated/Bioactive Effects References
P. africana Sélingué subdistrict, Mali Guele Bark trunk Oral, Bath Malaria [19]
Guinea-Bissau Tentera, Buiengué, Bussagan, Coquengue karbon, Késeg-késeg, Paucarvão, Pócarvão, Pó-de-carbom, Po-di-carvom, Tchelem, Tchalem-ai, tchela, Tchelangadje, Tchelem, Bal-tencali, Culengô, Culim-ô, Djandjam-ô, Quéssem-quéssem, Djeiha, Ogea Leaves, bark, roots Unspecified Pains, pregnancy (childbirth, breastfeeding, diseases of the newborn), skin inflammations (wounds, burns) [20]
Nsukka Local Government Area, South-eastern Nigeria Ugba Leaf Oral Malaria [21]
North-West Nigeria Kirya, Ko-hi Roots Oral Analgesic, anti-inflammatory [22]
P. alba Wichí people of Salta province, Argentina Jwaayukw, Algarrobo blanco Resin Oral Conjunctivitis, post-abortion pain [23]
P. cineraria Bahawalnagar, Punjab, Pakistan Drucey Leaves, stem Oral Spasm, diabetes, liver infection, diarrhea, removal of bladder and pancreas stone, fever, flu [5]
Topical Rheumatism  
Thar Desert (Sindh), Pakistan Gujjo Fruit Oral Tonic for body, leucorrhea [13]
South of Kerman, Iran Kahour Fruit Topical Asthma, skin rash [14]
Pakistan Unspecified Flower Oral Rheumatism [15]
Hafizabad district, Punjab, Pakistan Jhand Leaf, bark, stem, flower, fruit Oral, topical, eye drop Liver tonic, boils and blisters, scorpion bite, pancreatic stone, leucorrhoea, chronic dysentery, cataract [3]
Pakistan Unspecified Fruit, pods Unspecified Asthma [4]
Pakistan Jandi, Kanda, Kandee, Jhand Leaves, Bark, Flowers, Pods and wood Oral Menstrual disorders, contraceptive, prevention of abortion [16]
P. farcta Jahrom, Iran Kourak Fruit Oral Constipation, febrifuge [24]
P. glandulosa Torr Bustamante, Nuevo León, Mexico Mezquite Inflorescences Oral Stomach pain [25]
P. juliflora Thar Desert (Sindh), Pakistan Devi Leaves, Gum Oral Painkiller, boils opening, eye inflammation, body tonic, muscular pain [13]
Hafizabad district, Punjab, Pakistan Mosquit pod Whole plant, Flower, Stem, Leaves, Bark Oral, topical, and as toothbrush Galactagogue, kidney stones, toothache, breast cancer, asthma, boils [3]
Pakistan Unspecified Xerophytic shrub Unspecified Asthma, cough [4]
Mohmand Agency, FATA, Pakistan Kikrye Leaves Oral Lactation, expectorant [17]
Western Madhya Pradesh, India Reuja Stem bark Oral Asthma [18]
P. nigra Wichí people of Salta province, Argentina Wosochukw, Algarrobo negro Resin Oral Ocular trauma, conjunctivitis [23]
P. ruscifolia Wichí people of Salta province, Argentina Atek, Vinal Leaves Oral Conjunctivitis, stomachache, pimples/rash, scabies, callouses, fever, birth/postpartum pains, diarrhoea, pediculosis, otitis [23]
P. spicigera Pakistan Unspecified Bark, leaves, flowers Unspecified Asthma [4]

3.1. Prosopis cineraria

P. cineraria is traditionally used as a medicine in different regions of Pakistan, including Bahawalnagar in Punjab Province, the Thar Desert (Sindh) and Hafizabad district in Punjab (Table 2). The oral or topical administration of P. cineraria leaves, stems, fruits, flowers, barks and pods is used for the treatment of spasms, diabetes, liver infection, diarrhea, bladder and pancreas stones, fever, flu, rheumatism, leucorrhea, boils, blisters, scorpion bite, chronic dysentery, cataract, asthma, sexually-transmitted infections, and gynecological complaints, including menstrual disorders, as contraceptive and to prevent abortion [3][4][5][13][15][16]. Besides Pakistan, in the South of Kerman in Iran, P. cineraria flowers are also topically applied to treat asthma and skin rashes [14].

3.2. Prosopis juliflora

P. juliflora is commonly used in Pakistan, and can be either orally consumed or topically applied. Leaves, gum, whole plant, flower, stem and bark of P. juliflora are used as a painkiller, body tonic, galactagogue, and expectorant, or to treat boils, eye inflammation, muscular pain, kidney stones, toothache, breast cancer, asthma and cough in Thar Desert (Sindh), Bahawalnagar in Punjab province and Mohmand Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) [3][4][13][17]. In addition to Pakistan, the stem bark of P. juliflora is also consumed in western Madhya Pradesh, India for the treatment of asthma [18].

3.3. Prosopis africana

P. africana is commonly known as African mesquite, and is also traditionally used as a medicine. The oral administration of leaves and bark of this plant is used for the treatment of malaria in Sélingué subdistrict in Mali [19] and Nsukka Local Government Area in south-eastern Nigeria [21].
In addition to malaria, various parts of P. africana, including roots, leaves and bark, are also used as analgesic and anti-inflammatory in Guinea-Bissau [22] and for the treatment of pains, pregnancy-related conditions (childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn diseases), and skin inflammations (i.e., wounds, burns) in north-west of Nigeria [20].

3.4. Other Prosopis Plants

The resin of P. alba and P. nigra, and the leaves of P. ruscifolia have also been consumed by the Wichí people of Salta province in Argentina against conjunctivitis, post-abortion pain, ocular trauma, stomachache, pimples or rash, scabies, callouses, fever, birth or postpartum pains, diarrhea, pediculosis and otitisSuárez [23].
A study carried out in South America (Bustamante, Nuevo León, Mexico), also pointed out that the ingestion of P. glandulosa inflorescences may be useful to relief stomach pain [25]. In addition to the above, in Jahrom, Iran, P. farcta fruits have been consumed to prevent constipation and to reduce fever [24], whereas P. spicigera bark, leaves and flowers are used for the treatment of asthma in Pakistan [4].


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