The ecological adaptation of shea butter trees was assessed based on their dendrometric and production traits in four shea butter tree parks occurring in different climatic zones of Bénin. A total of 99 rectangular plots of 50 × 30 m were established within the four parks according to a random sampling scheme. In each plot, all trees with a diameter at breast height (dbh) >10 cm were inventoried and measured for stem and crown diameters, and total height. The production of 120 productive shea butter trees was quantified. Collected data were used to compute structural parameters for each park. Moreover, stem diameter and height structures of the trees were established. Principal component analysis was performed on the dendrometric variables, and the first three components were correlated with the climatic parameters. Results revealed significant differences between parks in most of the dendrometric and production parameters of shea butter trees. For all the four parks, stem diameter and height structures present a Gaussian shape with left dissymmetry. In the Guinean zone, shea butter trees develop large crowns but produce little quantities of fruits, whereas in the Sudanian regions, the opposite trend was observed.
Kakaï, R.G.; Akpona, T.J.D.; Assogbadjo, A.E.; Gaoué, O.G.; Chakeredza, S.; Gnanglè, P.C.; Mensah, G.A.; Sinsin, B. Ecological adaptation of the shea butter tree (Vitellaria paradoxa C.F. Gaertn.) along climatic gradient in Bénin, West Africa. African Journal of Ecology (2011) 49 (4) 440-449. [DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.2011.01279.x]