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Useful Tropical Plants

Vachellia tortilis

(Forssk.) Galasso & Banfi

Fabaceae


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 disagreement in the way this should be done. The latest decision (in 2011 and still not fully accepted) is that this species is transferred to Vachellia[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Acacia heteracantha Burch.

Acacia raddiana Savi.

Acacia spirocarpa Hochst. ex A.Rich.

Acacia tortilis (Forssk.) Hayne

Mimosa tortilis Forssk.

Common Name: Umbrella Thorn

Vachellia tortilis
Tree growing in native habitat
Photograph by: Haplochromis
Creative Commons License
Vachellia tortilis Vachellia tortilis Vachellia tortilis Vachellia tortilis Vachellia tortilis

General Information

Acacia tortilis is a distinctive small to medium-sized evergreen tree or shrub that develops a large, umbrella-like, spreading canopy[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is one of the few timber-producing species able to grow on the Arabian Peninsula[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. In good conditions it can grow up to 21 metres tall, though it is more likely to be in the range 8 - 10 metres and in marginal situations it can be a shrub as small as 1 metre tall[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].
An important, multi-purpose tree within its native range, where it has a wide range of uses, providing food, medicines, timber, fuel, tannins etc. It is often gathered from the wild for local use, and is also used in planting schemes for soil stabilization and shelterbelts[
396
Title
Useful Trees and Shrubs in Eritrea
Publication
 
Author
Bein. E.; Habte. B.; Jaber. A.; Birnie. A. & Tengnas. B.
Publisher
Regional Soil Conservation Unit: Nairobi
Year
1996
ISBN
9966-896-24-4
Description
A very well written and concise guide to almost 200 species. It gives a brief description of each plant together with its habitat, uses, propagation and cultivation. Line drawings of each plant are also included It can be downloaded from the internet
].

Known Hazards

There are unconfirmed allegations that the foliage can be toxic to livestock[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

Botanical References

308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.

Range

Africa - semi-arid areas from S. Africa to the Sahel and also to Israel and Arabia.

Habitat

Widespread in the Sahel, in woodlands and in the savannah[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It generally forms open, dry forests in pure stands or mixed with other species[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height15.00 m
Growth RateFast
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Umbrella thorn is a plant for semi-arid tropical and subtropical areas, succeeding at elevations from sea level to 2,000 metres[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
325
Title
Seed Leaflets
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://en.sl.life.ku.dk/Publikationer/Udgivelser/PopulaerPublikationer.aspx?katid={D28373CC-6EF3-4EF8-B097-6D83FABF209E}&serieid={9F1C3DB1-6E7B-4CF1-AF53-F480B0CB40EF}&sort=title
Publisher
Forest & Landscape. Denmark
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of leaflets, jointly produced by the University of Copenhagen and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, focussing on seed information for a number species, but also giving a lot of other information about each plant.
]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 23.4 - 31.3°c, with a mean annual rainfall of 100 - 1,000mm[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It tolerates a maximum temperature of 50°c and a minimum temperature close to 0°c[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
], though trees less than 2 years old are very susceptible to frost damage[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
The tree favours alkaline soils and grows in sand dunes, sandy loam, rocky soils and other soils that drain well[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It also does well on light brown, sandy soil with little or no calcium carbonate, and pH ranges of between 7.95-8.30[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Tolerates pH in the range 6.5 - 8.5[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. A drought resistant plant, it can tolerate strong salinity and seasonal waterlogging[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The long taproot and numerous lateral roots enable it to utilize the limited soil moisture available in the arid areas[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Plants can grow fairly well in shallow soil, less than 0.25 m deep, though they develop long lateral roots that can become a nuisance in nearby fields, paths, and roadways[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
A fast-growing tree, it develops a long lateral root system and creates problems in marshy fields, paths and roadways. It grows fairly well even on shallow soils less than 25cm deep. However, the plant assumes shrubby growth and must be widely spaced for the lateral root growth[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
It responds vigorously to felling by producing numerous coppice shoots, provided there is no interference from browsing animals[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Lopping of entire branches does not seem to affect the vitality of the tree[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
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[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

A porridge is made from the pods after extracting the seed[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The immature seeds are eaten[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

An edible gum is obtained from the stems[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
]. Of moderate quality[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
].

Medicinal

The dried, powdered bark is used as a disinfectant in healing wounds[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. In Senegal the powdered bark is used as an anthelmintic and is dusted on to skin ailments[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The stem is used to treat asthma[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Seeds are taken to treat diarrhoea[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Due to its drought hardiness and fast growth, this is a promising species for afforesting shifting sand dunes, refractory sites, hill slopes, ravines and lateritic soils[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is the tree most recommended for reclaiming dunes in India and Africa[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. It has been grown successfully with Azadirachta indica in shelterbelts[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Other Uses

The pods have been used as beads in necklaces[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

The source of a resin called Gomme Rouge[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

The bark is reported to be a rich source of tannin[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

A strong fibre is obtained from the bark[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

A powerful molluscicide and algicide, the fruits are placed in fish ponds to kill the snail species that carry schistosomiasis, without affecting the fish303].

The thorny branches are suitable material for erecting barriers[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The sapwood and heartwood are white and lustrous, with the heartwood aging to reddish-brown. Growth rings are distinct and separated by brown lines. The wood is moderately soft, not very strong, and is readily attacked by decay-causing fungi and insects. It should be promptly converted after felling and subjected to rapid drying conditions. The timber is not durable in the open but moderately so under cover. It is used for planking, boxes, poles, moisture-proof plywood, gun and rifle parts, furniture, house construction and farm implements[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is believed that Noah of the Old Testament made his ark from the wood of this tree[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The root of this tree is traditionally used to make quivers for arrows[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
]. A piece of wood about 40 - 60cm long is placed in the spent ashes of a warm fire and left overnight. The next morning, a short section of the bark of the root is removed at one end; a circular groove is carved into the exposed core wood; a piece of wire is wound around the groove at one end whist the other end is attached to a tree; the bark (having already been loosened from the wood by the drying action of the warm ashes) is then simply pulled whole off the root[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
]. The core of wood remaining is then often used as a pestle[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
].
The plant starts producing fuel wood at the age of 8 -18 years, at the rate of 50 kg/tree. Its fast growth and good coppicing behaviour, coupled with the high calorific value for its wood (4400 kcal/kg), make it suitable for firewood and charcoal[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Propagation

Seed - requires pre-treatment. The simplest method is to pour boiling water over the seeds and soak the seeds in this cooling water for 24 hours[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Commercially, scarification with 50% concentrated sulphuric acid for 40-50 minutes followed by washing in cold running water and then drying in the shade overnight is often used[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Seeds of various dimensions have varying scarification requirements[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. This method gives the maximum germination rate, about 95%. It is further reported that older seeds give healthier seedlings compared with fresh seeds[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The pre-treated seeds are sown in cylindrical metallic containers 10.2 cm in diameter and 30.5 cm long, filled with equal proportions of finely powdered farmyard manure, tank silt and soil that is sieved through a fine wire mesh. Two seeds are sown in each container. The sowing depth should not be more than to 4 cm; otherwise, seedling emergence will be adversely affected. Germination starts on the 4th day and is mostly completed over 10 days, although it may continue for 60 - 70 days. Germination rates can be low, around 45%[
396
Title
Useful Trees and Shrubs in Eritrea
Publication
 
Author
Bein. E.; Habte. B.; Jaber. A.; Birnie. A. & Tengnas. B.
Publisher
Regional Soil Conservation Unit: Nairobi
Year
1996
ISBN
9966-896-24-4
Description
A very well written and concise guide to almost 200 species. It gives a brief description of each plant together with its habitat, uses, propagation and cultivation. Line drawings of each plant are also included It can be downloaded from the internet
]. Seedlings should be watered twice a day. Shade, when provided during the summer months, reduces the water requirement of the plants by 9.6% as compared with those grown in the open. Seedlings raised in metallic containers and planted in cemented beds, which are immersed in water, require 29% less water than those kept in earthen beds. In the long run, metallic containers are cheaper than the other types of containers and last longer (about 12 years). Seedlings are planted out when 0.5 - 1 m high and require initial weeding to facilitate growth[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Plants less than 2 years old are damaged by frost and are tender to hot, desiccating winds[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; viability can be maintained for several years in hermetic storage at 10 deg. C with 4.5-9% mc[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

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