I love old animated Disney movies, as well as the gruesome Brothers Grimm stories or Perrault fairy tales that most come from. One of the best has got to be "Cinderella," with its talking mice and bad cat in the 1950 film and the grisly, on-the-fly foot surgery in the Grimm's version.
So I was pleased to see the cachet of a nice fairy tale title extended to the world of agriculture. "Cinderella species," like their namesake heroine, are diamonds in the rough, underappreciated beauties still hidden in the obscurity of the wild. More specifically, they're the 3,000 species of wild fruit trees that grow in areas of west Africa, southern Africa and the Sahel, largely uncultivated.
But that's been changing since the mid-1990s, when researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre surveyed residents on which indigenous trees they found most valuable. Instead of putting timber species at the top of the list, most people chose fruit trees as valued delicacies, staples or even famine food.