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 inaequilatera is a somewhat gnarled tree, frequently with a single, more or less crooked trunk and craggy branches; it usually grows 2 - 4 metres tall, sometimes reaching 8 metres. The bark is thick and corky[
]. 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 and a medicine. A curiously attractive species, especially when in flower[
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 - northern Western Australia, Northern Territory
Tall, open shrubland with spinifex ground cover, growing on stony plains and hills, in sand or sandy loam, basaltic and alkaline soils[
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Acacia inaequilatera is native to the arid and subarid regions of northwestern Australia.
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained soil.
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[
A very fire tolerant species, the thick bark giving it some protection. It rapidly regenerates from seed and also resprouts from the base and/or develops epicormic growth[
Acacia inaequilatera is a comparatively short-lived species, lasting less than 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[
]. The seeds were consumed by the indigenous people of the Pilbara either as raw bush tucker or after roasting on a spinifex fire, or were ground into a flour and used for a damper[
]. The seed can be eaten in the same ways as other small legume seeds and can also be ground into a powder then used as a flavouring in desserts or as a nutritious supplement to pastries and breads[
]. The seedpods are up to 11cm long and 7 - 10mm wide, with dull brown, oblong to more or less orbicular seeds 4.5 - 6mm 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[
An edible gum exudes from the trunk and branches[
The soft inner bark (birra) can be boiled in water and the liquid used to treat sores, scabies and other skin complaints[
The bark can be burnt and the ash rubbed over the skin of babies to keep them cool, or to make the skin 'soft and beautiful'[
]. The ash can also be used to treat persistent sores[
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 ash from the burnt bark can be rubbed over the skin to hide yourself from biting insects. The Aborigine would say that the insects can not find you to bite because the ash has made you too black[
Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and benefits from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve 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.
Seeds can store for 14 years at room temperature with only 11% loss of viability[