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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Acacia nilotica

Acacia nilotica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Acacia
Species: A. nilotica
Binomial name
Acacia nilotica
(L.) Willd. ex Delile
Range of Acacia nilotica
  • Acacia arabica (Lam.) Willd.
  • Acacia scorpioides W.Wight
  • Mimosa arabica Lam.
  • Mimosa nilotica L.
  • Mimosa scorpioides L.[1]
Acacia nilotica (gum arabic tree,[2] babul, Egyptian thorn, Sant tree, Al-sant or prickly acacia;[3] called thorn mimosa in Australia; lekkerruikpeul or scented thorn in South Africa) is a species of Acacia (wattle) native to Africa and the Indian subcontinent. It is also currently an invasive species of significant concern in Australia. For the ongoing reclassification of this and other species historically classified under genus Acacia, see the list of Acacia species.


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Distribution
  • 3 Uses
    • 3.1 Forage and fodder
    • 3.2 Hedges
    • 3.3 Medicine
      • 3.3.1 Bark
      • 3.3.2 Twigs
      • 3.3.3 Bark and root
      • 3.3.4 Bark or gum
      • 3.3.5 Leaves
      • 3.3.6 Resin
      • 3.3.7 Root
      • 3.3.8 Seed pods
      • 3.3.9 Wood
    • 3.4 Lumber
  • 4 Propagation
  • 5 Subspecies


Spring blossoms at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India
Acacia nilotica is a tree 5–20 m high with a dense spheric crown, stems and branches usually dark to black coloured, fissured bark, grey-pinkish slash, exuding a reddish low quality gum. The tree has thin, straight, light, grey spines in axillary pairs, usually in 3 to 12 pairs, 5 to 7.5 cm long in young trees, mature trees commonly without thorns. The leaves are bipinnate, with 3-6 pairs of pinnulae and 10-30 pairs of leaflets each, tomentose, rachis with a gland at the bottom of the last pair of pinnulae. Flowers in globulous heads 1.2-1.5 cm in diameter of a bright golden-yellow color, set up either axillary or whorly on peduncles 2–3 cm long located at the end of the branches. Pods are strongly constricted, hairy, white-grey, thick and softly tomentose. Its seeds number approximately 8000/kg.[4]


Trunk at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India
Scented Thorn Acacia is native from Egypt south to Mozambique and Natal through to Pakistan, India and Burma.[5] It has become widely naturalised outside its native range including Zanzibar, and Australia. Acacia nilotica is restricted to riverine habitats and seasonally flooded areas within its native range[citation needed] however in its introduced range it is spread by livestock and grows outside riparian areas.[5]


Forage and fodder

In part of its range smallstock consume the pods and leaves, but elsewhere it is also very popular with cattle. Pods are used as a supplement to poultry rations in India. Dried pods are particularly sought out by animals on rangelands. In India branches are commonly lopped for fodder. Pods are best fed dry as a supplement, not as a green fodder.


A. nilotica makes a good protective hedge because of its thorns.[6]


A. nilotica may also be used for medicinal purposes, as a demulcent or for conditions such as gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, diarrhea, dysentery or diabetes. It is styptic and astringent. In Siddha medicine, the gum is used to consolidate otherwise watery semen.[7]


Acacia nilotica
According to Hartwell, African Zulu take bark for cough. It acts as an astringent and it is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and leprosy.


Acacia nilotica
In most parts of Indian sub-continent, thin twigs are chewed and used as a toothbrush.

Bark and root

Maasai are intoxicated by the bark and root decoction, said to impart courage, even aphrodisia, and the root is said to cure impotence.

Bark or gum

In West Africa, the bark or gum is used to treat cancers and/or tumors (of ear, eye or testicles) and indurations of liver and spleen, condylomas, and excess flesh. Sap or bark, leaves, and young pods are strongly astringent due to tannin, and are chewed in Senegal as an antiscorbutic.


The bruised leaves are poulticed and used to treat ulcers.


In Lebanon, the resin is mixed with orange-flower infusion for typhoid convalescence.


The Chipi use the root for tuberculosis. In Tonga, the root is used to treat tuberculosis.

Seed pods

Egyptian Nubians believe that diabetics may eat unlimited carbohydrates as long as they also consume powdered pods.


In Italian Africa, the wood is used to treat smallpox. In Ethiopia, certain parts of the tree are used as a lactogogue.


The tree's wood is "very durable if water-seasoned" and its uses include tool handles and lumber for boats.[6] The wood has a density of about 1170 kg/m³.[8]


There are 5000-16000 seeds/kg.[9]


Bark structure

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