Quantitative variation in seeds, seedling growth and biomass among Acacia senegal (L) Willd. provenances in Kenya
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Conventionally, local seed sources are normally believed to perform better than introduced materials. However, studies show possibility of contrary results with many species such as Acacia senegal. The species is an economically and ecologically important tree of arid and semi-arid lands of sub-Saharan Africa. It produces gum arabic, used in land reclamation and agroforestry production. The species is however underutilized in Kenya due to lack of information on growth performance of different seed sources. Glasshouse provenance trial using seeds and soils from seven provenances in Kenya were used to evaluate interactions between seed sources and soils on growth and biomass. Seedling growth was assessed for 12 weeks in a randomized complete block design. Seed length, width, thickness and weight were measured. Seedlings height, root collar diameter, root dry weight, shoot dry weight and biomass were assessed and data subjected to univariate and multivariate analyses. No significant interaction between seed provenance and soils were evident; however, some provenances performed better across all the soils. Significant heritability and relationship between growth and environmental factors are reported. Overall, Ntumburi and Ngarendare provenances showed superior growth and plasticity. These provenances can be used tentatively as seed sources; however, field trials are recommended.