This article is about . For ,see Acacia (disambiguation).
About 1,300; see List of Acacia species
Acacias are also known as thorntrees or wattles, including the yellow-fever acacia and umbrella acacias.
There are roughly 1300 species of Acacia worldwide, about 950 of them native to Australia, with the remainder spread around the dry tropical to warm-temperate regions of both hemispheres, including Africa, southern Asia, and the Americas.
The northernmost species in the genus is Acacia greggi (Catclaw Acacia), reaching 37°10' N in southern Utah; the southernmost are Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle), Acacia longifolia (Coast Wattle or Sydney Golden pattle), Acacia mearnsii (Black Wattle), and Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood), reaching 43°30' S in Tasmania, Australia, while Acacia caven (Espinillo Negro) reaches nearly as far south in northeastern Chubut Province of Argentina. Australian species are usually called wattles, while African and American species tend to be known as acacias.
The leaves of acacias are compound pinnate in general. In some species, however, more especially in the Australian and Pacific islands species, the leaflets are suppressed, and the leaf-stalks (petioles) 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) lack leaves or phyllodes altogether, but possess instead cladodes, modified leaf-like photosynthetic stems functioning as leaves.
The small flowers 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 (as in Acacia purpureapetala) or red (in the recently grown cultivar Acacia leprosa Scarlet Blaze).
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-stipules. Acacia armata is the Kangaroo-thorn of Australia, Acacia giraffae, the Camelthorn of Africa. In the Central American Acacia sphaerocephala, Acacia spadicigera, Acacia cornigera, and Acacia collinsii (collectively known as the bullthorn acacias), the large thorn-like stipules are hollow and afford shelter for ants, which feed on a secretion of sap on the leaf-stalk and small, lipid-rich food-bodies at the tips of the leaflets called Beltian bodies; in return they usually protect the plant against herbivores. Some species of ants will also trim competing plants around the acacia, while other ant species will do nothing to benefit their host.
In common parlance the term "acacia" is occasionally misapplied to species of the genus Robinia, which also belongs in the pea family. Robinia pseudoacacia, an American species locally known as Black locust, is sometimes called "false acacia" in cultivation in the United Kingdom.
In Australia, Acacia species are sometimes used as food plants by the larvae of hepialid moths of the genus Aenetus including A. ligniveren. These burrow horizontally into the trunk then vertically down. Other Lepidoptera larvae which have been recorded feeding on Acacia include Brown-tail, Endoclita malabaricus and Turnip Moth. The leaf-mining larvae of some bucculatricid moths also feed on Acacia: Bucculatrix agilis feeds exclusively on Acacia horrida, Bucculatrix flexuosa feeds exclusively on Acacia nilotica.
Industrial and medicinal uses
Acacia arabica is the gum-arabic tree of India, but yields a gum inferior to the true gum-arabic. The bark of Acacia arabica, under the name of babul or babool, is used in Scinde for tanning. In Ayurvedic medicine, babul is considered a remedy that is helpful for treating premature ejaculation.
The bark of various Australian species, known as wattles, is very rich in tannin and forms an important article of export; important species include Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle), Acacia decurrens (Tan Wattle), Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle) and Acacia mearnsii (Black Wattle). Black Wattle is grown in plantations in South Africa. Most Australian acacia species introduced to South Africa, have become an enormous problem due to their naturally aggressive propagation. The pods of Acacia nilotica (under the name of neb-neb), and of other African species are also rich in tannin and used by tanners.
Most acacia species are used for valuable timber; such are Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood) from Australia, which attains a great size; its wood is used for furniture, and takes a high polish; and Acacia homalophylla (Myall Wood, also Australian), which yields a fragrant timber, used for ornamental purposes. Acacia formosa supplies the valuable Cuban timber called sabicu. Acacia seyal is thought to be the shittah tree of the Bible, which supplied shittim-wood. This was used in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant. Acacia heterophylla from Réunion island, and Acacia koa from the Hawaiian Islands are excellent timber trees.
Acacia farnesiana is used in the perfume industry due to its strong fragrance.
An astringent medicine, called catechu or cutch, is procured from several species, but more especially from Acacia catechu, by boiling down the wood and evaporating the solution so as to get an extract.
A few species are widely grown as ornamentals in gardens; the most popular perhaps is Acacia dealbata (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.
Another ornamental acacia is Acacia xanthophloea (Fever Tree).
Honey made from the acacia flower is considered a delicacy, appreaciated for its mild flowery taste, soft running texture and glass like appearance. Acacia nectar can be a large enough com monofloroney.
Many Acacia species contain some psychoactive alkaloids of which DMT and NMT are the most prominent and useful. The leaves, stems and/or roots can be made into a brew together with some MAOI-containing plant to obtain an effect when taken orally. Maybe in relation to this effect, Egyptian mythology has associated the acacia tree with characteristics of the tree of life (cf. article on the Legend of Osiris and Isis).
It is used as a symbol in freemasonry, to represent purity and endurance of the soul.
Acacias known to contain psychoactive alkaloids:
|Acacia acuminata||Up to 1.5% mainly consisting of tryptamine in leaf|
|Acacia adansonii||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia albida||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia alpina||Active principles in leaf|
|Acacia angustiloba||Bufotenin, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, NMT in leaves, bark and seeds|
|Acacia arabica||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia aroma||Tryptamine alkaloids|
|Acacia auriculiformis||5-MeO-DMT in stem bark|
|Acacia baileyana||0.02% tryptamine and β-carbolines, in the leaf, Tetrahydroharman|
|Acacia berlandieri||DMT, amphetamines, mescaline, nicotine|
|Acacia campylacantha||DMT and other tryptamines in leaf, bark|
|Acacia catechu||DMT and other tryptamines in leaf, bark|
|Acacia catechuoides||DMT and other tryptamines in leaf, bark|
|Acacia cebil||1.5%-12% Bufotenin, tryptamine in seeds|
|Acacia chundra||DMT and other tryptamines in leaf, bark|
|Acacia complanata||β-carboline in leaf and twig, tryptamine, Tetrahydroharman, MAOI's|
|Acacia confusa||DMT & NMT in leaf, stem & bark 0.04% NMT and 0.02% DMT in stem|
|Acacia cultriformis||Tryptamine, in the leaf and stem|
|Acacia jurema||DMT, NMT|
|Acacia laeta||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia longifolia||0.2% tryptamine in bark, leaves, 0.2% DMT|
|Acacia maidenii||0.6% NMT and DMT in about a 2:3 ratio in the stem bark, both present in leaves|
|Acacia melanoxylon||DMT, in the bark and leaf|
|Acacia mellifera||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia nilotica||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia niopo||Bufotenin, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, NMT, in leaves, bark and seeds|
|Acacia nubica||Less than 0.1% DMT in leaf, NMT|
|Acacia peregrina||Bufotenin, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, NMT in leaves, bark and seeds|
|Acacia phlebophylla||0.3% DMT in leaf, NMT|
|Acacia podalyriaefolia||Tryptamine in the leaf, 0.5% to 2% DMT in fresh bark|
|Acacia polyacantha ssp. campylacantha||Less than 0.2% DMT in leaf, NMT|
|Acacia retinodes||DMT, MMT|
|Acacia rigidula||DMT and many others|
|Acacia senegal||Less than 0.1% DMT in leaf, NMT, other tryptamines|
|Acacia seyal||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia sieberiana||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia simplicifolia||DMT and NMT, in the leaf, stem and trunk bark, 0.81% DMT in bark, MMT<ref>Arbeitsstelle für praktische Biologie (APB)</ref>|
|Acacia sophorae||DMT, NMT, bufotenine and other tryptamines|
|Acacia stenocarpa||DMT, in the leaf|
|Acacia suma||DMT and other tryptamines in leaf, bark|
|Acacia tenuifolia var. producta||Psychoactive|
|Acacia tortilis||DMT, NMT, and other tryptamines|
|Acacia verek||Less than 0.1% DMT in leaf, NMT, other tryptamines|
|Acacia vestita||Tryptamine, in the leaf and stem|
There are over 1,300 species of Acacia. See List of Acacia species for a complete listing.
- Clement, B.A., Goff, C.M., Forbes, T.D.A. Toxic Amines and Alkaloids from Acacia rigidula, Phytochem. 1998, 49(5), 1377.
- Rätsch, Christian. Enzyklopädie der psychoaktiven Pflanzen, Botanik, Ethnopharmakologie und Anwendungen, 7. Auflage. AT Verlag, 2004, 941 Seiten. ISBN 3855025703
- Rätsch, Christian, Räucherstoffe - Der Atem des Drachens, 72 Pflanzenporträts - Ethnobotanik, Rituale und praktische Anwendungen. AT Verlag, 2006, 248 Seiten. ISBN 3-03800-302-6
- World Wide Wattle
- Wayne's Word on "The Unforgettable Acacias"
- The genus Acacia and Entheogenic Tryptamines, with reference to Australian and related species, by mulga
- A description of Acacia from Pomet's 1709 reference book, History of Druggs