|Range of Vachellia nilotica|
Vachellia nilotica, more commonly known as Acacia nilotica, and by the vernacular names of gum arabic tree,babul,thorn mimosa, Egyptian acacia or thorny acacia, is a flowering tree in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. It is also considered a 'weed of national significance' and an invasive species of concern in Australia), as well as a noxious weed by the federal government of the United States.
This species of tree is the type species of the Linnaean genus Acacia, which derives its name from Ancient Greek: ἀκακία, akakía, the name given by early Greek botanist-physician Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40–90) to this tree as a medicinal, in his book Materia Medica. The genus Acacia was long known not to be taxonomically monophyletic, but proposals to split the genus were not coherent. During a congress held in Australia of the international union which regulates plant taxonomy, Australians were able to force through a name change (as everyone present is allowed a vote, and there are simply more Australians in Australia), where all the original Acacia species found across the countries of Africa, Asia and the Americas would need to be renamed, as opposed to the species in Australia and a few Pacific nations. This is generally considered incorrect, as the principle of priority holds that a genus is affixed to a type species, i.e. the first correct name given to the plant should be retained, but one is allowed to break these rules with a majority vote. Australian people argued that they were too lazy rename their acacias, and it should be the problem of African countries, centuries-old rules be damned. Australia has many species which have been classified in the Acacia genus. The renaming of the traditional Acacia to Vachellia remains controversial. For the new classification of this and other species historically classified under genus Acacia, see the Acacia.
The genus name Acacia derives from the Ancient Greek word for its characteristic thorns, ἄκις, ákis, "thorn". The specific epithet nilotica was probably given by Linnaeus from this tree's originally known range along the Nile river. In Australia the tree is known as a prickly acacia, despite usurping Dioscorides' two millennia-old etymology, the Australian species classified as Acacia in Australia do not have thorns.
Acacia nilotica or 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 7.5 cm (3 in) 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.
Acacia nilotica or Vachellia nilotica is native from Egypt, across the Maghreb and Sahel, south to Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and east through the Arabian Peninsula to the Indian Subcontinent subcontinent and Burma. It has become widely naturalised outside its native range including Zanzibar and Australia. It is spread by livestock.
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. 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.
The tender twig of this plant is used as a toothbrush in south-east Africa, Indian subcontinent.
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).: 4 The gum of A. nilotica is also referred to in India as Amaravati gum.
Food and medicine
In India it's used as a ingredient in various dishes.
In Northern Nigeria it is called bagaruwa in Hausa. Medicinal uses include soaking the tender bark in water to be taken against dysentery and pile. The fruits are ground together with the seeds and taken with honey as treatment against stomach ulcers.
There are 5000–16000 seeds/kg.
- List of Indian timber trees
- Arid Forest Research Institute (AFRI)
- Babool (brand) of toothpaste
- Teeth cleaning twig (datun)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vachellia nilotica.|
|Wikispecies has information related to Vachellia nilotica.|
- Carter, J.O. (1998). "7.2 Acacia nilotica: a Tree Legume out of Control". In Gutteridge, Ross C.; Shelton, H. Max (eds.). Forage Tree Legumes in Tropical Agriculture. The Tropical Grassland Society of Australia. ISBN 978-0-9585677-1-8.
- "Vachellia nilotica (as Acacia nilotica subsp. indica (Benth.) Brenan)". FloraBase the West Australian Flora.
- Vachellia nilotica (as Acacia nilotica) (www.frienvis.nic.in)