Acacia

Acacia

Overview

Acacia is a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of shrub
Shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s and tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae
Mimosoideae
Mimosoideae is a subfamily of the flowering plant family Fabaceae characterized by flowers with small petals and numerous prominent stamens...

 of the family Fabaceae
Fabaceae
The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is a large and economically important family of flowering plants. The group is the third largest land plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species...

, first described in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 by the Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n acacias are not. They are pod-bearing, with sap and leaves typically bearing large amounts of tannin
Tannin
A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.The term tannin refers to the use of...

s and condensed tannins that historically in many species found use as pharmaceuticals and preservatives.

The generic name derives from ακακία (akakia), the name given by early Greek botanist-physician Pedanius Dioscorides
Pedanius Dioscorides
Pedanius Dioscorides was a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, the author of a 5-volume encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances , that was widely read for more than 1,500 years.-Life:...

 (ca.
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Encyclopedia

Acacia is a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of shrub
Shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s and tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae
Mimosoideae
Mimosoideae is a subfamily of the flowering plant family Fabaceae characterized by flowers with small petals and numerous prominent stamens...

 of the family Fabaceae
Fabaceae
The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is a large and economically important family of flowering plants. The group is the third largest land plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species...

, first described in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 by the Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n acacias are not. They are pod-bearing, with sap and leaves typically bearing large amounts of tannin
Tannin
A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.The term tannin refers to the use of...

s and condensed tannins that historically in many species found use as pharmaceuticals and preservatives.

The generic name derives from ακακία (akakia), the name given by early Greek botanist-physician Pedanius Dioscorides
Pedanius Dioscorides
Pedanius Dioscorides was a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, the author of a 5-volume encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances , that was widely read for more than 1,500 years.-Life:...

 (ca. 40-90) to the medicinal tree A. nilotica
Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica is a species of Acacia native to Africa and the Indian subcontinent...

in his book Materia Medica
Materia medica
Materia medica is a Latin medical term for the body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing . The term 'materia medica' derived from the title of a work by the Ancient Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century AD, De materia medica libre...

. This name derives from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word for its characteristic thorns, ακις (akis, thorn). The species name nilotica was given by Linnaeus from this tree's best-known range along the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 river.

Acacias are also known as thorntrees, whistling thorns or wattles, including the yellow-fever acacia and umbrella acacias.

The genus Acacia previously contained roughly 1300 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, about 960 of them native to Australia, with the remainder spread around the tropical to warm-temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 regions of both hemispheres, including Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Africa, southern Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. However, in 2005 the genus was divided into five separate genera. The name Acacia was retained for the majority of the Australian species and a few in tropical Asia, Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 and Pacific Islands
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

. Most of the species outside Australia, and a small number of Australian species, were reclassified into Vachellia
Vachellia
Vachellia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Its species were considered members of genus Acacia until 2005....

and Senegalia
Senegalia
Senegalia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Until 2005, species were considered members of Acacia....

. The two final genera, Acaciella
Acaciella
Acaciella is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the sub family Mimosoideae.- Species :*Acaciella angustissima...

and Mariosousa
Mariosousa
Mariosousa is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae....

, only contain about a dozen species from the Americas each.

Classification


The traditional circumscription of the genus Acacia is not monophyletic
Monophyly
In common cladistic usage, a monophyletic group is a taxon which forms a clade, meaning that it contains all the descendants of the possibly hypothetical closest common ancestor of the members of the group. The term is synonymous with the uncommon term holophyly...

. This discovery has led to the breaking up of Acacia into five genera as discussed in: List of Acacia species. At the 17th International Botanical Congress
International Botanical Congress
International Botanical Congress is a large-scale meeting of botanists in all scientific fields, from all over the world. Authorized by the International Association of Botanical and Mycological Societies , congresses are held every six years with the venue circulating around the world. The XVIII...

 in Vienna, 2005, the much debated re-typification of the genus with an Australian species (which was validated by the 18th IBC in Melbourne, 2011) most of the traditional acacias of Africa are now treated in the genera Vachellia
Vachellia
Vachellia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Its species were considered members of genus Acacia until 2005....

and Senegalia
Senegalia
Senegalia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Until 2005, species were considered members of Acacia....

, while some of the American species are placed in Acaciella
Acaciella
Acaciella is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the sub family Mimosoideae.- Species :*Acaciella angustissima...

and Mariosousa
Mariosousa
Mariosousa is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae....

. The majority of species still treated in the genus Acacia are confined to Australia.
In common parlance, the term "acacia" is occasionally misapplied to species of the genus Robinia
Robinia
Robinia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae, native to North America and northern Mexico. Commonly known as "locusts", they are deciduous trees and shrubs growing 4-25 m tall. The leaves are pinnate with 7-21 oval leaflets. The flowers are white or pink, in...

, which also belongs in the pea
Pea
A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

 family. Robinia pseudoacacia, an American species locally known as Black Locust, is sometimes called "false acacia" in cultivation in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

Geography


Acacias in Australia probably evolved their fire resistance about 20 million years ago when fossilised charcoal deposits show a large increase, indicating that fire was a factor even then. With no major mountain ranges or rivers to prevent their spread, the wattles began to spread all over the continent as it dried and fires became more common. They began to form dry, open forests with species of the genera Casuarina
Casuarina
Casuarina is a genus of 17 species in the family Casuarinaceae, native to Australasia, southeast Asia, and islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It was once treated as the sole genus in the family, but has been split into three genera .They are evergreen shrubs and trees growing to 35 m tall...

, Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

 and Callitris
Callitris
Callitris is a genus of coniferous trees in the Cupressaceae . There are 15 species in the genus, of which 13 are native to Australia and the other two native to New Caledonia. Traditionally the most widely used common name is cypress-pine, a name shared by the closely related genus Actinostrobus...

 (Cypress-pines).

The southernmost species in the genus are Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata is a species of Acacia, native to southeastern Australia in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.-Description:...

(Silver Wattle), Acacia longifolia
Acacia longifolia
Acacia longifolia is a species of Acacia native to southeastern Australia, from the extreme southeast of Queensland, eastern New South Wales, eastern and southern Victoria, and southeastern South Australia. Common names for it include Acacia Trinervis, Aroma Doble, Golden Wattle, Coast Wattle,...

(Coast Wattle or Sydney Golden Wattle), Acacia mearnsii (Black Wattle), and Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood), reaching 43°30' S in Tasmania
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

, Australia, while Acacia caven
Acacia caven
Acacia caven is an ornamental tree in the Fabaceae family. Acacia caven is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay...

(Espinillo Negro) reaches nearly as far south in northeastern Chubut Province
Chubut Province
Chubut a province in the southern part of Argentina situated between the 42nd parallel south and the 46th parallel south , the Andes range separating Argentina from Chile, and the Atlantic ocean...

 of Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

.

Australian species are usually called wattles, while African and American species tend to be known as acacias.

Acacia albida, Acacia tortilis
Acacia tortilis
Acacia tortilis, the Umbrella Thorn Acacia, also known as Umbrella Thorn and Israeli Babool, is a medium to large canopied tree native primarily to the savanna and Sahel of Africa , but also occurring in the Middle East....

and Acacia iraqensis can be found growing wild in the Sinai
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 desert and the Jordan valley. It is found in the savanna vegetation of the tropical continental climate. It grows wild in Montserrat West Indies; there it is locally referred to as 'cusha.'

Description


The leaves
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 of acacias are compound pinnate
Pinnate
Pinnate is a term used to describe feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis in plant or animal structures, and comes from the Latin word pinna meaning "feather", "wing", or "fin". A similar term is pectinate, which refers to a comb-like arrangement of parts...

 in general. In some species, however, more especially in the Australian and Pacific islands
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

 species, the leaflets are suppressed, and the leaf-stalks (petioles
Petiole (botany)
In botany, the petiole is the stalk attaching the leaf blade to the stem. The petiole usually has the same internal structure as the stem. Outgrowths appearing on each side of the petiole are called stipules. Leaves lacking a petiole are called sessile, or clasping when they partly surround the...

) become vertically flattened, and serve the purpose of leaves. These are known as phyllodes. The vertical orientation of the phyllodes protects them from intense sunlight, as with their edges towards the sky and earth they do not intercept light so fully as horizontally placed leaves. A few species (such as Acacia glaucoptera
Acacia glaucoptera
Acacia glaucoptera, commonly known as Flat Wattle or Clay Wattle, is a species of Acacia which is endemic to the south-west of Western Australia. It is a spreading or erect shrub which ranges in height from 0.3 metres to 1.2 metres, and up to 2 metres in width...

) lack leaves or phyllodes altogether, but possess instead cladodes, modified leaf-like photosynthetic
Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

 stems functioning as leaves.

The small flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s have five very small petals, almost hidden by the long stamens, and are arranged in dense globular or cylindrical clusters; they are yellow or cream-colored in most species, whitish in some, even purple (Acacia purpureapetala) or red (Acacia leprosa
Acacia leprosa
Acacia leprosa, also known as Cinnamon Wattle, is an acacia native to Australia. It occurs in woodland in New South Wales and Victoria. It occurs as a hardy shrub or small tree. The phyllodes are 3-14 cm long and contain oil glands...

Scarlet Blaze). Acacia flowers can be distinguished from those of a large related genus, Albizia
Albizia
Albizia is a genus of about 150 species of mostly fast-growing subtropical and tropical trees and shrubs in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family, Fabaceae. The genus is pantropical, occurring in Asia, Africa, Madagascar, Central, South, and southern North America and Australia, but mostly...

, by their stamens which are not joined at the base. Also, unlike individual Mimosa
Mimosa
Mimosa is a genus of about 400 species of herbs and shrubs, in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word μιμος , meaning "mimic."...

flowers, those of Acacia have more than 10 stamens.

The plants often bear spines, especially those species growing in arid regions. These sometimes represent branches which have become short, hard and pungent, or sometimes leaf-stipule
Stipule
In botany, stipule is a term coined by Linnaeus which refers to outgrowths borne on either side of the base of a leafstalk...

s. Acacia armata is the Kangaroo-thorn of Australia and Acacia erioloba
Acacia erioloba
Acacia erioloba is also commonly known as the Camel Thorn, Kameeldoring , Giraffe Thorn or Mokala . The Mokala National Park in the Northern Cape is named after this tree. The type specimen of Acacia giraffae, proved on closer examination to be a hybrid of A. haematoxylon and the species which...

is the Camelthorn of Africa.

Acacia seeds can be difficult to germinate. Research has found that immersing the seeds in various temperatures (usually around 80 °C) and manual seed coat chipping can improve yields to approximately 80 percent.

Symbiosis



In the Central American Acacia sphaerocephala, Acacia cornigera
Acacia cornigera
Acacia cornigera, commonly known as Bullhorn Acacia , is a swollen-thorn acacia native to Mexico and Central America. The common name of "bullhorn" refers to the enlarged, hollowed-out, swollen thorns that occur in pairs at the base of leaves, and resemble the horns of a steer...

, and Acacia collinsii
Acacia collinsii
Acacia collinsii is a species of flowering plant. It grows in secondary succession in seasonally dry ecosystems in southern Central America, where it exhibits a symbiotic relationship with several species of ant...

(collectively known as the bullthorn acacias), the large thorn-like stipules are hollow and afford shelter for several species of Pseudomyrmex
Pseudomyrmex
Pseudomyrmex is a genus of stinging, wasp-like ants in the family Formicidae . They are large eyed, slender ants with an arboreal habitat. They are found exclusively in the New World in tropical and subtropical regions...

 ants, which feed on a secretion of sap on the leaf-stalk and small, lipid
Lipid
Lipids constitute a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins , monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others...

-rich food-bodies at the tips of the leaflets called Beltian bodies
Beltian body
A Beltian body is a structure found on the leaves of some species of Acacia. Beltian bodies, named after Thomas Belt, are found on the tips of each leaflet and are rich in lipids and proteins and often red in colour. They are believed to have evolved in a symbiotic relationship with ants...

. In return, the ant
Ant
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than...

s add protection to the plant against herbivores. Some species of ants will also fight off competing plants around the acacia, cutting off the offending plant's leaves with their jaws and ultimately killing it. Other associated ant species appear to do nothing to benefit their hosts.

Similar mutualisms with ants occur on Acacia trees in Africa, such as the Whistling Thorn acacia. The acacias provide shelter for ants in the hollow stipules and nectar in extrafloral nectaries for their symbiotic ants such as Crematogaster mimosae. In turn, the ants protect the plant by attacking large mammalian herbivores and stem-boring beetles that damage the plant.

Pests


In Australia, Acacia species are sometimes used as food plants by the larva
Larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e of hepialid
Hepialidae
The Hepialidae is a family of insects in the lepidopteran order. Moths of this family are often referred to as swift moths or ghost moths.-Taxonomy and systematics:...

 moth
Moth
A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. Moths form the majority of this order; there are thought to be 150,000 to 250,000 different species of moth , with thousands of species yet to be described...

s of the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Aenetus
Aenetus
Aenetus is a genus of moths of the family Hepialidae. There are 24 described species found in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand. Most species have green or blue forewings and reddish hindwings but some are predominantly brown or white...

including A. ligniveren. These burrow horizontally into the trunk then vertically down. Other Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 larvae which have been recorded feeding on Acacia include Brown-tail
Brown-tail
The brown-tail is a moth of the family Lymantriidae. It is distributed throughout Europe.The wings of this species are pure white, as is the body, apart from a tuft of brown hairs at the end of the abdomen. The brown coloration extends along most of the back of the abdomen in the male...

, Endoclita malabaricus
Endoclita
Endoclita is a genus of moths of the family Hepialidae. There are 60 described species found in eastern and southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.- Species :*E. aboe - India*E. absurdus - China*E. actinidae - China...

and Turnip Moth
Turnip Moth
The Turnip Moth is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is a common European species, but it is also found in Asia and Africa, very likely having been spread by the international trade in nursery stock...

. The leaf-mining larvae of some bucculatricid
Bucculatricidae
Bucculatricidae or is a family of moths. This small family has representatives in all parts of the world. Some authors place the group as a subfamily of the family Lyonetiidae....

 moth
Moth
A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. Moths form the majority of this order; there are thought to be 150,000 to 250,000 different species of moth , with thousands of species yet to be described...

s also feed on Acacia: Bucculatrix agilis feeds exclusively on Acacia horrida
Acacia horrida
Acacia horrida is a low spreading shrub or sometimes tree native to both the wet and dry scrublands of tropical to subtropical East Africa. Common names for it are Cape Gum and Dev-Babul. It is also found elsewhere in Africa, Asia, India and South America. It frequently has stipular spines...

and Bucculatrix flexuosa
Bucculatricidae
Bucculatricidae or is a family of moths. This small family has representatives in all parts of the world. Some authors place the group as a subfamily of the family Lyonetiidae....

feeds exclusively on Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica is a species of Acacia native to Africa and the Indian subcontinent...

.

Acacias contain a number of organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

s that defend them from pests and grazing animals.

Food uses



Acacia seeds are often used for food and a variety of other products.

In Burma
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, the feathery shoots of Acacia pennata (common name cha-om, ชะอม and su pout ywet in Burmese) are used in soup
Soup
Soup is a generally warm food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water, or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth.Traditionally,...

s, curries
Curry
Curry is a generic description used throughout Western culture to describe a variety of dishes from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Thai or other Southeast Asian cuisines...

, omelette
Omelette
In cuisine, an omelette or omelet is a dish made from beaten eggs quickly cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan, sometimes folded around a filling such as cheese, vegetables, meat , or some combination of the above...

s, and stir-fries.

In Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 the seeds are known as Guajes. Guajes or huajes are the flat, green pods of an acacia tree. The pods are sometimes light green or deep red in color—both taste the same. Guaje seeds are about the size of a small lima bean and are eaten raw with guacamole, sometimes cooked and made into a sauce. They can also be made into fritters. The ground seeds are used to impart a slightly garlicy flavor to a mole called guaxmole (huaxmole). The dried seeds may be toasted and salted and eaten as a snack referred to as "cacalas".

The predominantly herbivorous spider Bagheera kiplingi
Bagheera kiplingi
Bagheera kiplingi is a species of jumping spider found in Central America including Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala. It is the type species of the genus Bagheera, which includes one other species, B. prosper. B. kiplingi is notable for its peculiar diet, which, uniquely for a spider, is mostly...

, which is found in Central America and Mexico, feeds on nubs at the tips of the acacia leaves, known as Beltian bodies
Beltian body
A Beltian body is a structure found on the leaves of some species of Acacia. Beltian bodies, named after Thomas Belt, are found on the tips of each leaflet and are rich in lipids and proteins and often red in colour. They are believed to have evolved in a symbiotic relationship with ants...

, which contain high concentrations of protein. These nubs are produced by the acacia as part of a symbiotic relationship with certain species of ant
Ant
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than...

, which also eat them.

Acacia is listed as an ingredient in Sun Drop, Fresca
Fresca
Fresca is a citrus diet soft drink made by The Coca-Cola Company. First introduced in the United States in 1966, the drink is now sold throughout the American continent...

, a citrus
Citrus
Citrus is a common term and genus of flowering plants in the rue family, Rutaceae. Citrus is believed to have originated in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeastern India, Myanmar and the Yunnan province of China...

 soft drink
Soft drink
A soft drink is a non-alcoholic beverage that typically contains water , a sweetener, and a flavoring agent...

, RC Cola, Barq's
Barq's
-External links:* - Official website* - The History of Root Beer...

 root beer
Root beer
Root beer is a carbonated, sweetened beverage, originally made using the root of a sassafras plant as the primary flavor. Root beer, popularized in North America, comes in two forms: alcoholic and soft drink. The historical root beer was analogous to small beer in that the process provided a drink...

, Full Throttle
Full Throttle (drink)
Full Throttle is an energy drink brand produced by The Coca-Cola Company. It debuted in late 2004 in North America.On April 24, 2008, it was announced that Coca-Cola would change sponsorship of the National Hot Rod Association professional classes from POWERade to Full Throttle.In November, 2009,...

 Unleaded Energy Drink
Energy drink
Energy drinks are beverages whose producers advertise that they "boost energy." These advertisements usually do not emphasize energy derived from the sugar and caffeine they contain but rather increased energy release due to a variety of stimulants and vitamins....

, Strawberry-Lemonade Powerade
Powerade
Powerade is a sports drink manufactured and marketed by The Coca-Cola Company. First introduced in 1988, its primary competitor is PepsiCo's Gatorade...

 as well as in Läkerol
Läkerol
Läkerol is a Swedish brand of candies currently produced by the Leaf confectionery company.The candies are sugar- and calorie-free pastilles with the major ingredient being gum arabic. The candies are produced in a variety of flavors....

 pastille
Pastille
Pastilles are a type of candy or medicinal pill made of a thick liquid that has been solidified and is meant to be consumed by light chewing and allowing it to dissolve in the mouth...

 candies
Candy
Candy, specifically sugar candy, is a confection made from a concentrated solution of sugar in water, to which flavorings and colorants are added...

, Altoids
Altoids
-Flavors and varieties:-Mints:Altoids mints are available in eight flavors: peppermint, wintergreen, spearmint, cinnamon, ginger, liquorice, crème de menthe and cool honey. "Sugar-Free Smalls", tiny square mints sweetened with sorbitol and sucralose, are also available in peppermint, wintergreen,...

 mints, Langer's Pineapple coconut Juice, Wrigley's Eclipse chewing gum
Chewing gum
Chewing gum is a type of gum traditionally made of chicle, a natural latex product, or synthetic rubber known as polyisobutylene. For economical and quality reasons, many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle...

 and M&Ms Pretzel.

Honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

 labeled under the term 'Acacia Honey' is a type of honey produced by bees from a false acacia known as black locust
Black locust
Robinia pseudoacacia, commonly known as the Black Locust, is a tree in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. It is native to the southeastern United States, but has been widely planted and naturalized elsewhere in temperate North America, Europe, Southern Africa and Asia and is...

 in North America, but called by the misnomer 'acacia' in Europe, hence this liquid honey which practically doesn't crystallize does not come from true acacias.

Gum


Various species of acacia yield gum. True gum arabic
Gum arabic
220px|thumb|right|Acacia gumGum arabic, also known as acacia gum, chaar gund, char goond, or meska, is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal...

 is the product of Acacia senegal
Acacia senegal
is a small deciduous Acacia tree known by the common names Rfaudraksha, Gum Acacia, Gum Arabic Tree, or Gum Senegal Tree. It is native to semi-desert regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Oman, Pakistan, and northwestern India. It grows to a height of 5-12m, with a trunk up to 30 cm in...

, abundant in dry tropical West Africa from Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 to northern Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

.

Acacia arabica is the gum-Arabic tree of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, but yields a gum inferior to the true gum-Arabic.

Medicinal uses


Many Acacia species have important uses in traditional medicine. Most of the uses have been shown to have a scientific basis since chemical compounds found in the various species have medicinal effects.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica is a species of Acacia native to Africa and the Indian subcontinent...

is considered a remedy that is helpful for treating premature ejaculation
Premature ejaculation
Premature ejaculation is a condition in which a man ejaculates earlier than he or his partner would like him to. Premature ejaculation is also known as rapid ejaculation, rapid climax, premature climax, or early ejaculation....

.
A 19th century Ethiopian medical text describes a potion made from an Ethiopian species of Acacia (known as grar) mixed with the root of the tacha, then boiled, as a cure for rabies
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

.

An astringent
Astringent
An astringent substance is a chemical compound that tends to shrink or constrict body tissues, usually locally after topical medicinal application. The word "astringent" derives from Latin adstringere, meaning "to bind fast"...

 medicine high in tannin
Tannin
A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.The term tannin refers to the use of...

s, called catechu
Catechu
For the region in India, see Kutch District.Catechu is an extract of any of several species of Acacia—but especially Acacia catechu—produced by boiling the wood in water and evaporating the resulting brew....

 or cutch, is procured from several species, but more especially from Acacia catechu
Acacia catechu
Acacia catechu also commonly called Mimosa catechu, is a deciduous, thorny tree which grows up to in height. The plant is called khair in Hindi, and kachu in Malay, hence the name was Latinized to "catechu" in Linnaean taxonomy, as the type-species from which the extracts cutch and catechu are...

, by boiling down the wood and evaporating the solution so as to get an extract. The catechu
Catechu
For the region in India, see Kutch District.Catechu is an extract of any of several species of Acacia—but especially Acacia catechu—produced by boiling the wood in water and evaporating the resulting brew....

 extract from Acacia catechu figures in the history of chemistry in giving its name to the catechin
Catechin
Catechin is a natural phenol antioxidant plant secondary metabolite. The term catechins is also commonly used to refer to the related family of flavonoids and the subgroup flavan-3-ols ....

, catechol, and catecholamine
Catecholamine
Catecholamines are molecules that have a catechol nucleus consisting of benzene with two hydroxyl side groups and a side-chain amine. They include dopamine, as well as the "fight-or-flight" hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline released by the adrenal medulla of the adrenal glands in response to...

 chemical families ultimately derived from it.

Ornamental uses


A few species are widely grown as ornamentals in garden
Garden
A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The garden can incorporate both natural and man-made materials. The most common form today is known as a residential garden, but the term garden has...

s; the most popular perhaps is Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata is a species of Acacia, native to southeastern Australia in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.-Description:...

(Silver Wattle), with its attractive glaucous to silvery leaves and bright yellow flowers; it is erroneously known as "mimosa" in some areas where it is cultivated, through confusion with the related genus Mimosa
Mimosa
Mimosa is a genus of about 400 species of herbs and shrubs, in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word μιμος , meaning "mimic."...

.

Another ornamental acacia is Acacia xanthophloea
Acacia xanthophloea
Acacia xanthophloea is a tree in the Fabaceae family and is commonly known in English as the Fever Tree . This species of Acacia is native to eastern and southern Africa. It can be found in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe...

(Fever Tree).
Southern European florists use Acacia baileyana, Acacia dealbata, Acacia pycnantha and Acacia retinodes as cut flowers and the common name there for them is mimosa.

Ornamental species of acacia are also used by homeowners and landscape architect
Landscape architect
A landscape architect is a person involved in the planning, design and sometimes direction of a landscape, garden, or distinct space. The professional practice is known as landscape architecture....

s for home security. The sharp thorns of some species deter unauthorized persons from entering private properties, and may prevent break-ins if planted under windows and near drainpipes. The aesthetic characteristics of acacia plants, in conjunction with their home security qualities, makes them a considerable alternative to artificial fence
Fence
A fence is a freestanding structure designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary. It is generally distinguished from a wall by the lightness of its construction: a wall is usually restricted to such barriers made from solid brick or concrete, blocking vision as well as passage .Fences...

s and wall
Wall
A wall is a usually solid structure that defines and sometimes protects an area. Most commonly, a wall delineates a building and supports its superstructure, separates space in buildings into rooms, or protects or delineates a space in the open air...

s.

Perfume



Acacia farnesiana is used in the perfume
Perfume
Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils and/or aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give the human body, animals, objects, and living spaces "a pleasant scent"...

 industry due to its strong fragrance. The use of Acacia as a fragrance dates back centuries.

Symbolism and ritual



The Acacia is used as a symbol in Freemasonry
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, to represent purity and endurance of the soul, and as funerary symbolism signifying resurrection and immortality. The tree gains its importance from the description of the burial of Hiram Abiff
Hiram Abiff
Hiram Abiff is a character who figures prominently in an allegorical play that is presented during the third degree of Craft Freemasonry...

, the builder of King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.

Egyptian mythology
Egyptian mythology
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals which were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with a multitude of deities who were believed to be present in, and in control of, the forces and elements of nature...

 has associated the acacia tree with characteristics of the tree of life
Tree of life
The concept of a tree of life, a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related, has been used in science , religion, philosophy, mythology, and other areas...

 (see the article on the Myth of Osiris and Isis).

Several parts (mainly bark, root and resin) of Acacia are used to make incense
Incense
Incense is composed of aromatic biotic materials, which release fragrant smoke when burned. The term "incense" refers to the substance itself, rather than to the odor that it produces. It is used in religious ceremonies, ritual purification, aromatherapy, meditation, for creating a mood, and for...

 for rituals. Acacia is used in incense mainly in India, Nepal, and China including in its Tibet region. Smoke from Acacia bark is thought to keep demon
Demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

s and ghost
Ghost
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to...

s away and to put the gods in a good mood. Roots and resin from Acacia are combined with rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

, acorus
Acorus
Acorus is a genus of monocot flowering plants. This genus was once placed within the family Araceae , but more recent classifications place it in its own family Acoraceae and order Acorales, of which it is the sole genus of the oldest surviving line of monocots. The exact relationship of Acorus to...

, cytisus
Cytisus
Cytisus is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Faboideae.-Selected species:* Cytisus arboreus  DC.* Cytisus ardoini E.Fourn.* Cytisus baeticus  Steud....

, salvia
Salvia
Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, with approximately 700-900 species of shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. It is one of several genera commonly referred to as sage. When used without modifiers, sage generally refers to Salvia officinalis ; however, it is...

 and some other components of incense. Both people and elephants like an alcoholic beverage made from acacia fruit.
According to Easton's Bible Dictionary, the Acacia tree may be the “burning bush” (Exodus 3:2) which Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 encountered in the desert. Also, when God gave Moses the instructions for building the Tabernacle
Tabernacle
The Tabernacle , according to the Hebrew Torah/Old Testament, was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites...

, he said to "make an ark " and "a table of acacia wood" (Exodus 25:10 & 23, Revised Standard Version
Revised Standard Version
The Revised Standard Version is an English translation of the Bible published in the mid-20th century. It traces its history to William Tyndale's New Testament translation of 1525. The RSV is an authorized revision of the American Standard Version of 1901...

)

In Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and other countries it is customary to present women with yellow mimosas (among other flowers) on International Women's Day
International Women's Day
International Women's Day , originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and...

 (March 8). These "mimosas" are actually from Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata is a species of Acacia, native to southeastern Australia in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.-Description:...

(Silver Wattle).

Tannin


The bark of various Australian species, known as wattles, is very rich in tannin
Tannin
A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.The term tannin refers to the use of...

 and forms an important article of export; important species include Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle), Acacia decurrens
Acacia decurrens
Acacia decurrens is a perennial tree or shrub native to eastern New South Wales...

(Tan Wattle), Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata
Acacia dealbata is a species of Acacia, native to southeastern Australia in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.-Description:...

(Silver Wattle) and Acacia mearnsii (Black Wattle).

Black Wattle is grown in plantations in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. Most Australian acacia species introduced to South Africa have become an enormous problem, due to their naturally aggressive propagation. The pods of Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica is a species of Acacia native to Africa and the Indian subcontinent...

(under the name of neb-neb), and of other African species are also rich in tannin
Tannin
A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.The term tannin refers to the use of...

 and used by tanners.

Wood




Some Acacia species are valuable as timber
Timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

, such as Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood) from Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, which attains a great size; its wood is used for furniture
Furniture
Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to hold objects at a convenient height for work using horizontal surfaces above the ground, or to store things...

, and takes a high polish; and Acacia omalophylla (Myall Wood, also Australian), which yields a fragrant timber used for ornaments. Acacia seyal
Acacia seyal
Acacia seyal, the Red acacia, known also as the shittah tree , is a thorny, 6–10 m high tree with a pale greenish or reddish bark. At the base of the 3–10 cm feathery leaves there are two straight, light grey thorns, growing to 7–20 cm long...

is thought to be the Shittah-tree
Shittah-tree
Shittah-tree is Hebrew for acacia. Acacia albida, Acacia seyal, Acacia tortilis and Acacia iraqensis can be found growing wild in the Sinai desert and the Jordan valley....

 of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, which supplied shittim-wood. According to the Book of Exodus, this was used in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

. Acacia koa
Koa
Acacia koa is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, where it is the second most common tree. The highest populations are on Hawaii, Maui and Oahu...

from the Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaii in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll...

 and Acacia heterophylla
Acacia heterophylla
Acacia heterophylla, the Highland tamarin, is a tree endemic to Réunion island where it is commonly named Tamarin des Hauts...

from Réunion
Réunion
Réunion is a French island with a population of about 800,000 located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, about south west of Mauritius, the nearest island.Administratively, Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France...

 island are both excellent timber trees. Depending on abundance and regional culture, some Acacia species (e.g. Acacia fumosa), are traditionally used locally as firewoods.


Pulpwood


In Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 (mainly in Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

) and in Malaysia (mainly in Sarawak
Sarawak
Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang , Sarawak is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia followed by Sabah, the second largest state located to the North- East.The administrative capital is Kuching, which...

) plantations of Acacia mangium
Acacia mangium
Acacia mangium is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to northeastern Queensland in Australia, the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, Papua, and the eastern Maluku Islands. Common names include Black Wattle, Hickory Wattle and Mangium...

are being established to supply pulpwood
Pulpwood
Pulpwood refers to timber with the principal use of making wood pulp for paper production.-Applications:* Trees raised specifically for pulp production account for 16% of world pulp production, old growth forests 9% and second- and third- and more generation forests account for the balance...

 to the paper industry.

Acacia gives high opacity and below average bulk paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

. This is suitable in lightweight offset papers
Woodfree uncoated paper
Woodfree uncoated paper or uncoated fine papers are containing mainly chemical pulps and 5–25% fillers. Both softwood and hardwood chemical pulps are used and a minor part of mechanical pulp might be added . These paper grades are calendered.-Properties:Woodfree uncoated papers are of high quality...

 used for bibles and dictionaries. It is also used in paper tissue where it improves softness.

Land Reclamation


Acacia can be planted for erosion control, especially after mining or construction damage.

Ecological invasion


For the same reasons it is favored as an erosion-control plant, with its easy spreading and resilience, some varieties of acacia, are potentially an invasive species. One of the most globally significant invasive Acacias is Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii, which is taking over grasslands and abandoned agricultural areas worldwide, especially in moderate coastal and island regions where mild climate promotes its spread. Australian/New Zealand Weed Risk Assessment gives it a "high risk, score of 15" rating and it is considered one of the world's 100 most invasive species.
Extensive ecological studies should be performed before further introduction of acacia varieties as this fast-growing Genus, once introduced, spreads fast and is extremely difficult to eradicate.

Alkaloids


As mentioned previously, Acacias contain a number of organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

s that defend them from pests and grazing animals. Many of these compounds are psychoactive in humans.
The alkaloids found in Acacias include dimethyltryptamine
Dimethyltryptamine
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is found in several plants, and also in trace amounts in humans and other mammals, where it is originally derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and ultimately produced by the enzyme INMT...

 (DMT), 5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine
5-MeO-DMT
5-MeO-DMT is a powerful psychedelic tryptamine. It is found in a wide variety of plant and psychoactive toad species and, like its close relatives DMT and bufotenin , it has been used as an entheogen by South American shamans for thousands of years.-Chemistry:5-MeO-DMT was first synthesized in...

 (5-MeO-DMT) and N-methyltryptamine
N-Methyltryptamine
N-Methyltryptamine , or methyltryptamine, is a member of the tryptamine chemical class. It is an alkaloid, probably derived from L-tryptophan, that has been found in the bark, shoots and leaves of several plant species, including Virola, Acacia, Mimosa and Desmanthus often together with the...

 (NMT). The plant leaves, stems and/or roots are sometimes made into a brew together with some MAOI
Monoamine oxidase inhibitor
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are a class of antidepressant drugs prescribed for the treatment of depression. They are particularly effective in treating atypical depression....

-containing plant and consumed orally for healing, ceremonial or religious uses.

Cyanogenic glycosides


Nineteen different species of Acacia in the Americas contain cyanogenic glycosides
Glycoside
In chemistry, a glycoside is a molecule in which a sugar is bound to a non-carbohydrate moiety, usually a small organic molecule. Glycosides play numerous important roles in living organisms. Many plants store chemicals in the form of inactive glycosides. These can be activated by enzyme...

, which, if exposed to an enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 which specifically splits glycosides, can release hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in the acacia "leaves." This sometimes results in the poisoning death of livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

.

If fresh plant material spontaneously produces 200 ppm or more HCN, then it is potentially toxic. This corresponds to about 7.5 μmol HCN per gram of fresh plant material. It turns out that, if acacia "leaves" lack the specific glycoside-splitting enzyme, then they may be less toxic than otherwise, even those containing significant quantities of cyanic glycosides.

Some Acacia species containing cyanogens:
  • Acacia erioloba
    Acacia erioloba
    Acacia erioloba is also commonly known as the Camel Thorn, Kameeldoring , Giraffe Thorn or Mokala . The Mokala National Park in the Northern Cape is named after this tree. The type specimen of Acacia giraffae, proved on closer examination to be a hybrid of A. haematoxylon and the species which...

  • Acacia cunninghamii
  • Acacia obtusifolia
  • Acacia sieberiana
  • Acacia sieberiana var. woodii

Species


There are over 1,300 species of Acacia. See List of Acacia species for a more complete listing.

Famous acacia


Perhaps the most famous acacia is the Arbre du Ténéré
Arbre du Ténéré
, known in English as the Tree of Ténéré, was a solitary acacia, of either Acacia raddiana or Acacia tortilis, that was once considered the most isolated tree on Earth — the only one for over...

 in Niger
Niger
Niger , officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east...

. The reason for the tree's fame is that it used to be the most isolated tree in the world, approximately 400 km (249 mi) from any other tree. The tree was knocked down by a truck driver in 1973.

See also

  • List of Acacia species
  • Plant defense against herbivory
    Plant defense against herbivory
    Plant defense against herbivory or host-plant resistance describes a range of adaptations evolved by plants which improve their survival and reproduction by reducing the impact of herbivores. Plants use several strategies to defend against damage caused by herbivores...

  • Psychedelic plants
    Psychedelic plants
    A list of plants that are used for psychedelic drugs. Some of them have been used for thousands of years for religious purposes. The plants are listed according to the substances they contain.-THC:Cannabis is a popular psychedelic plant...


General references

  • Clement, B.A., Goff, C.M., Forbes, T.D.A. Toxic Amines and Alkaloids from Acacia rigidula, Phytochem. 1998, 49(5), 1377.
  • Shulgin, Alexander and Ann, TiHKAL
    TiHKAL
    TiHKAL: The Continuation is a 1997 book written by Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin about a family of psychoactive drugs known as tryptamines. A sequel to PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, TiHKAL is an acronym that stands for Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved.-Content:TiHKAL, much like its...

    the Continuation. Transform Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-9630096-9-2

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