This species has often been mis-identified in the past as Acacia cowleana - the report for  contained here was originally placed under Acacia cowleana[
Classification of the genus Acacia (in the wider sense) has been subject to considerable debate. It is generally agreed that there are valid reasons for breaking it up into several distinct genera, but there has been disagreement over the way this should be done. As of 2017, it is widely (but not completely) accepted that the section that includes the majority of the Australian species (including this one) should retain the name Acacia, whilst other sections of the genus should be transferred to the genera Acaciella, Mariosousa, Senegalia and Vachellia[
Acacia elachantha is a spindly shrub growing 2 - 3 metres tall, occasionally becoming a tree 5 - 8 metres tall. The crown is sparsely foliaged[
]. Although it produces true leaves as a seedling, like most members of this section of the genus, the mature plant does not have true leaves but has leaf-like flattened stems called phyllodes[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. The seeds are highly nutritious and the plant has been recommended as a new food crop for arid tropical regions[
The seed of many Acacia species, including this one, is edible and highly nutritious, and can be eaten safely as a fairly major part of the diet. Not all species are edible, however, and some can contain moderate levels of toxins[
]. Especially when harvesting from the wild, especial care should be taken to ensure correct identification of any plants harvested for food[
Especially in times of drought, many Acacia species can concentrate high levels of the toxin Hydrogen cyanide in their foliage, making them dangerous for herbivores to eat.
Australia - Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, northeastern South Australia
Tall shrubland, tall open-shrubland, or low open-woodland with eucalypts, often forming dense populations along roadsides; at elevations up to 650 metres.
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Acacia elachantha is a plant of the arid and semi-arid zones of central and northern Australia, where it cn be found at elevations up to 650 metres. Summer temperatures can exceed 40°c, whilst they rarely fall below 7°c in the cool season. Much of its range is frost-free, but at higher elevations in the south there can be up to 12 light frosts in a year. Rainfall is seasonal and can range from 125 - 400mm with a dry season of 4 months.
Requires a sunny position. The plant is well-adapted to grow on infertile sandy soils that are not adapted to conventional food crops[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant.
Acacia elachantha is a fast growing, short-lived species (up to 10 years) that produces large quantities of biomass early in its life and can produce prolific quantities of seed. Introduced into parts of west Africa (as A. cowleana ) since the early 1980s for fuelwood, soil rehabilitation and more recently for the use of its seeds as an alternative food[
An attractive silvery tree, it has potential to provide ornament and low shelter in sandy or stony, hot arid environments.
The seeds of most acacia species can be quickly and efficiently harvested at full maturity without the need for any specialised equipment. Small seed-bearing branches can be cut and beaten on sheets, or bushes can be beaten or shaken directly onto large sheets[
Yields of up to 6 kilos of seed per plant have been obtained under field conditions, though 1.8 kilos is more common when grown in mixed plantings and with little attention to cultivation[
Acacia elachantha is a fast-growing but short-lived species, with a life-span of only 3 - 10 years[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Seed - cooked[
]. It can be eaten in the same ways as other small legume seeds and is also ground into a powder then used as a flavouring in desserts or as a nutritious supplement to pastries and breads[
]. The pods are up to 7smm long and 3.5 - 5mm wide, with dark brown to black, more or less oblong seeds 3.5 - 4mm long[
Acacia seeds are highly nutritious and contain around 26% protein, 26% available carbohydrate, 32% fibre and 9% fat. The fat content is higher than most legumes with the aril providing the bulk of fatty acids present. These fatty acids are largely unsaturated. The energy content is high in all species tested, averaging 1480 ±270 kJ per 100g. The seeds are low glycaemic index foods - the starch is digested and absorbed very slowly, producing a small, but sustained rise in blood glucose and so delaying the onset of exhaustion in prolonged exercise[
The ground seed can be used to produce a high quality, caffeine-free coffee-like beverage[
The bark of all Acacia species contains greater or lesser quantities of tannins and are astringent. Astringents are often used medicinally - taken internally, for example. they are used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery, and can also be helpful in cases of internal bleeding. Applied externally, often as a wash, they are used to treat wounds and other skin problems, haemorrhoids, perspiring feet, some eye problems, as a mouth wash etc[
Many Acacia trees also yield greater or lesser quantities of a gum from the trunk and stems. This is sometimes taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and haemorrhoids[
The wood is only available in small sizes. It is used for light construction[
The wood has good potential for use as fuel and to make charcoal[
The seed of most, if not all, members of this genus has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.
Acacia seeds that have matured fully on the bush and have been properly dried have a hard seed coat and can be stored in closed containers without deterioration for 5 - 10 years or more in dry conditions at ambient temperatures. It is best to remove the aril, which attracts weevils and can lead to moulds forming. The arils are easilyremoved by placing the seeds in water and rubbing them between the hands, then drying the seeds and winnowing them[