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Vachellia nilotica

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Vachellia nilotica (commonly known as gum arabic tree,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> babul,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> thorn mimosa, Egyptian acacia or thorny acacia<ref name=GRIN>Template:GRIN</ref>) is a tree in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. It is also a Weed of National Significance and is an invasive species of significant concern in Australia.

Taxonomy

This tree was originally the type species of the genus Acacia, which derives its name from ακακία (akakia), the name given by early Greek botanist-physician Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40–90) to this tree as a medicinal, in his book Materia Medica.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The renaming of the genus to Vachellia remains controversial.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

The genus name Acacia derives from the Greek word for its characteristic thorns, ακις (akis, thorn).<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> The species name nilotica was given by Linnaeus from this tree's best-known range along the Nile river. The plant V. nilotica then, in turn, became the type species for the Linnaean genus Acacia (not all of which have thorns, even though they are named for them). For the ongoing reclassification of this and other species historically classified under genus Acacia, see the Acacia.

Description

Spring blossoms at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India

Vachellia 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 Template:Convert 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.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Distribution

Vachellia nilotica is native from Egypt, across the Maghreb and Sahel, south to Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and east through Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan, India and Burma.<ref name=autogenerated1>Template:Cite web</ref> It has become widely naturalised outside its native range including Zanzibar and Australia. Vachellia nilotica is spread by livestock.<ref name=autogenerated1 />

Uses

Seed pods
Gum Arabic exuding
Trunk at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India

Forage and fodder

In part of its range smallstock consume the pods and leaves,<ref name="ZabréKaboré2017">Template:Cite journal Template:Open access</ref> 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. In West Africa, the pods and leaves are considered to have anthelminthic properties on small ruminants and this has been confirmed by in vitro experiments on nematodes.<ref name="ZabréKaboré2017"/>

Tooth brushing

The tender twig of this plant is used as a toothbrush in south-east Africa, Pakistan and India.Template:Ref supports2

Gum arabic

Template:Main The exudate gum of this tree is known as gum arabic and has been collected from the pharaonic times for the manufacture of medicines, dyes and paints. In the present commercial market, gum arabic is defined as the dried exudate from the trunks and branches of Senegalia (Acacia) senegal or Vachellia (Acacia) seyal in the family Leguminosae (Fabaceae).<ref name=NGARA>Template:Cite web</ref>Template:Rp The gum of A. nilotica is also referred to in India as Amaravati gum.<ref name="Gum arabic">Template:Cite web</ref>

Hedges

V. nilotica makes a good protective hedge because of its thorns.<ref name="select">Template:Cite book</ref>

Lumber

The tree's wood is "very durable if water-seasoned" and its uses include tool handles and lumber for boats.<ref name="select"/> The wood has a density of about 1170 kg/m3.<ref name="fao">Template:Cite book</ref>

Propagation

There are 5000–16000 seeds/kg.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Gallery

See also

References

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External links

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