Faidherbia albida is an important agroforestry tree species widely distributed across parklands and agricultural systems in Africa. The demand to scale it up in similar agroecologies outside their natural distribution range in agricultural systems in Eastern Africa is increasing. The demand is caused by the observed enhancement of crop yields under mature F. albida trees canopies. There are around 132 provenances of F. albida in Africa all displaying differences in seed, germination and seedling growth characters and therefore recommending which provenance (s) for where is a big challenge. Therefore understanding seed morphology, germination and seedling growth of some provenances is an important step in helping identify which provenances could be proposed for establishment in Eastern Africa. The purpose of the study was to determine provenance variation in F. albida seeds morphological characteristics, germination and early seedling growth. Six provenances namely Chinzombo, Wagingombe, Taveta, Maseno, Lake Koka and Awassa were used in the study. The study revealed highly significant differences among provenances in all studied parameters except for seedling height at month 2 to 5. Highest variation among provenances in seed traits was observed in seed weight while seed thickness had the lowest variation. Overall mean germination among provenances was 70.2% varying from 32.7 to 93.3%. Significant correlation was found between seed length and collar diameter and between temperature and collar diameter. The observed variation will enable selection of provenances with desired traits for tree improvement and recommendation of specific provenances for different sites. It can be concluded that since the period of this study was short (5 months), further progeny tests should be undertaken on these provenances in the field over a longer period so as to obtain more information on the identified traits before a general conclusion is made.
Key words: Agroforestry systems, germination capacity, germination energy, growth performances, integration, provenance variation, seed characters, seedling traits, selection