The Acacia tree is native to Africa. It grows up to 50 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Its bark is dark brown with light gray stripes running along its length.
Its branches are long and slender, reaching only about 1 foot above ground level. They grow from the trunk at right angles to each other, forming a “V” shape. The acacia tree’s leaves are small, oval-shaped, greenish yellow in color. They have five leaflets, which are tipped with pink or purple hairs. The leaf tips curl upward when they become wet and dry out quickly. These leaves provide shade for the acacia tree during hot summer days and protect it from windy weather conditions during cold winter nights.
Acacia Trees in Nature
A few species of acacia trees exist throughout the world. Some of these include:
Africa – The African acacia (Carya ovata) is one of the most common and widespread species found there. It is a deciduous tree that produces large, cone-like cones in springtime. The leaves are usually clustered around the base of the trunk and branch out into clusters along its branches.
Australia – The Australian acacia (Maidenia silvicola) is also a deciduous tree. Its leaves are smaller than the African acacia and have only three to five leaflets. The tree is more common on drier slopes and rocky outcroppings.
North America – These types of acacia trees (Acacia angustissima) are called catclaw or Spanish bayonet. Unlike other types of acacia trees, this species is evergreen.
In addition to these types of acacia trees, there are several other types such as the Arabian acacia (Acacia arabica), the black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) and the vachellia (Acacia vachellia).
Acacia Trees Facts: The African Acacia Tree
The African acacia tree is a tall, thin tree that can reach heights of up to 60 feet. The trunk has a bulge near the base and its bark is dark brown with gray stripes. Its branches are located well off the ground, around 2 feet in fact.
It also has thorns that grow from these branches and points downward towards the ground. These thorns are reddish brown in color and grow up to 3 inches in length.
Its oval-shaped leaves have five leaflets (sometimes seven) that are a yellowish green in color. Young leaves are a dark green. These leaves can be as much as 2 feet long and 1 foot wide.
During the dry season, the acacia tree produces flowers with yellow petals that have a red stripe in the middle. The tree itself does not produce seeds but rather large pods which contain smaller seeds.
The African acacia tree is most commonly found in semiarid or arid areas, usually near rivers or other natural bodies of water. This type of tree usually grows in groups or thickets, as the tree’s thorns protect it from being eaten away by animals. Its thorns also protect it from damage caused by grazing animals.
The bark of the acacia tree is used to make beehives, while its wood can be used to make furniture. In some areas of the world, it is also used to produce gum arabic.
The African acacia tree has many adaptations that allow it to survive in arid or semiarid conditions. One of these is its bark, which is one of the most drought-resistant barks found in nature. Its thorns prevent grazing animals from eating it away and due to this, it does not need to expend energy on growing thick, wide leaves for protection.
Its flowers bloom when there is the greatest possibility of rainfall, ensuring successful reproduction for future trees.
Sources & references used in this article:
Sterilization and canopy modification of a swollen thorn acacia tree by a plant-ant by ML Stanton, TM Palmer, TP Young, A Evans, ML Turner – Nature, 1999 – nature.com
Notes on Traditional Uses of Khair (Acacia catechu Willd.) by Inhabitants of Shivalik Range in Western Himalaya by KN Singh, B Lal – Ethnobotanical Leaflets, 2006 – opensiuc.lib.siu.edu
An evaluation of the Acacia albida-based agroforestry practices in the Hararghe highlands of Eastern Ethiopia by P Poschen – Agroforestry systems, 1986 – Springer
Phenology of seven Acacia species in South Africa by SJ Milton – South African Journal of Wildlife Research-24-month …, 1987 – journals.co.za
Effects of natural and simulated herbivory on spine lengths of Acacia drepanolobium in Kenya by TP Young, ML Stanton, CE Christian – Oikos, 2003 – Wiley Online Library
Adoption, use and perception of Australian acacias around the world by CA Kull, CM Shackleton, PJ Cunningham… – Diversity and …, 2011 – Wiley Online Library