Vachellia nilotica

  (Redirected from Acacia nilotica)
Vachellia nilotica
Babool (Acacia nilotica) flowers at Hodal W IMG 1163.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Vachellia
Species: V. nilotica
Binomial name
Vachellia nilotica
(L.) P.J.H.Hurter & Mabb.[1]
Range of Vachellia nilotica
  • Acacia arabica (Lam.) Willd.
  • Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd. ex Delile
  • Acacia scorpioides (L.) W.Wight
  • Mimosa arabica Lam.
  • Mimosa nilotica L.
  • Mimosa scorpioides L.

Vachellia nilotica (widely known by the taxonomic synonym Acacia nilotica, or the common names gum arabic tree,[5] Babul/Kikar, Egyptian thorn, Sant tree, Al-sant or prickly acacia;[6][7][8] called thorn mimosa or prickly acacia in Australia; lekkerruikpeul or scented thorn in South Africa; karuvela maram in South India) is a species of Vachellia native to Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. It is also currently an invasive species of significant concern in Australia.



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.[9] The renaming of the genus to Vachellia remains controversial.[10]

The genus name Acacia derives from the Greek word for its characteristic thorns, ακις (akis, thorn).[11] 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 Acacia genus (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.


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 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.[12]


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.[13] It has become widely naturalised outside its native range including Zanzibar and Australia. Vachellia nilotica is spread by livestock.[13]


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

Forage and fodderEdit

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.

Tooth brushingEdit

The tender twig of this plant is used as a toothbrush in south-east Africa and India.[14][15]

Gum arabicEdit

Main article: Gum arabic

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).[16]:4 The gum of A. nilotica is also referred to in India as Amaravati gum.[17]


V. nilotica makes a good protective hedge because of its thorns.[18]


The tree's wood is "very durable if water-seasoned" and its uses include tool handles and lumber for boats.[18] The wood has a density of about 1170 kg/m3.[2]


There are 5000–16000 seeds/kg.[19]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kyalangalilwa B, Boatwright JS, Daru BH, Maurin O, van der Bank M. (2013). "Phylogenetic position and revised classification of Acacia s.l. (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in Africa, including new combinations in Vachellia and Senegalia.". Bot J Linn Soc. 172 (4): 500–523. doi:10.1111/boj.12047. 
  2. ^ a b Wickens, G.E. (1995). "Table 2.1.2 The timber properties of Acacia species and their uses". Role of Acacia species in the rural economy of dry Africa and the Near East. FAO Conservation Guide. 27. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 92-5-103651-9. 
  3. ^ USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. "Acacia nilotica". USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). 
  4. ^ "Acacia nilotica". LegumeWeb. International Legume Database & Information Service. 
  5. ^ "Vachellia nilotica (as Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd. ex Delile)". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  6. ^ Babul dictionary_infoplease
  7. ^ Babul_Mirriam Webster
  8. ^ AgroForestryTree Database_World AgroForestry Centre
  9. ^ "Acacia nilotica (acacia)". Plants & Fungi. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  10. ^ Kull, Christian A.; Rangan, Haripriya. "Science, sentiment and territorial chauvinism in the acacia name change debate" (PDF). In Haberle, Simon P.; David, Bruno. Peopled Landscapes: Archaeological and Biogeographic Approaches to Landscapes. Terra Australis. 34. 
  11. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 1 A-C. CRC Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2. 
  12. ^ Handbook on Seeds of Dry-zone Acacias FAO
  13. ^ a b "Prickly acacia – Acacia nilotica" (PDF). Weed Management Guide. Weeds of National Significance. 2003. ISBN 1-920932-14-3. 
  14. ^ Saurabh Rajvaidhya et al. (2012) "A review on Acacia Arabica, an Indian medicinal plant" International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research Vol 3(7) pp 1995-2005
  15. ^ A Hooda, M Rathee, J Singh (2009) "Chewing Sticks In The Era Of Toothbrush: A Review", The Internet Journal of Family Practice Vol 9(2)
  16. ^ "Production and marketing of gum arabic" (PDF). Nairobi, Kenya: Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa (NGARA). 2004. 
  17. ^ "Acacia nilotica (gum arabic tree)". Invasive species compendium. Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Mueller, Ferdinand (1884). "Acacia longifolia, Willdenow". Select extra-tropical plants readily eligible for industrial culture or naturalization. G.S. Davis. p. 7. 
  19. ^ "Vachellia nilotica (as Acacia nilotica)". Tropical Forages. 

External linksEdit