Establishment of Faidherbia albida trees on farm is often difficult despite the plant survival adaptive mechanisms such as drought and disease resistance. Adoption of the tree to agroforestry systems is also limited due to lack of knowledge on genetic variation of its provenances. Morphological charac-terization of F. albida provenances is therefore necessary to screen for natural genetic variation in seeds traits for selection of germplasm for long term agroforestry, timber production, fodder, soil fertility increment and environmental sustainability. In this study, seed traits of five provenances of F. albida: Taveta Wangingombe, Lupaso, Kuiseb and Manapools were examined. Divergent studies were analyzed based on seed morphology and geo-climatic conditions of the provenances. Seed length, width, thickness and weight were analyzed to determine the extent of phenotypic and genotypic variance and heritability. This study revealed significant differences among provenances (P≤0.05) for all the studied characters indicating substantial genetic variability. Genetic variance for all seed traits was higher than environmental variance suggesting that the expressions of these traits are under genetic control. This result was supported by high heritability values for seed length (0.92), width (0.99), thickness (0.99) and weight (0.99). Seed germination test involved 4 replicates of 25 randomly selected seeds per provenance. Mean germination percentage among provenances was 83.3% with the highest being 97% and the lowest 71%, P≤0.05. Relationships among these variables were analyzed using principal component analysis and cluster analysis resulting in separation of provenances into three distinct clusters. Manapools (760 mm), Lupaso (1165 mm) and Wangingombe (628 mm) with high rainfall were placed in cluster one. Taveta (545 mm) cluster two and Kuiseb (<50 mm) cluster three. Wangingombe (1700 m a.s.l.) clustered closely to Lupaso (500 m a.s.l.) than Taveta (760 m a.s.l.). High heritability (h²>0.5) for all traits suggests that selection based on morphological traits can be made with a high degree of confidence.
Key words: Provenances, selection, clinal distribution, geographical differentiation, genetic variation, heritability.
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