Acacia nilotica

Family: Fabaceae (Mimosoideae)

Acacia originates from the Greek word for a sharp point and nilotica refers to the habitat where it was first described by scientists. In English it is called the Egyptian thorn, or scented thorn.

The species is very variable in stature but is usually a multi-stemmed shrub and wooded grassland areas. It has prominent long, paired straight thorns. Notes that anything that looks like an Acacia but doesn’t have thorns is not an acacia, and is probably an Albizia. It flowers mainly in the short rains, producing the fuzz balls characteristic of this sub-family. This species has sickly-sweet scented bright yellow flowers. The pods are sometimes curved, fleshy and hairy when young but becoming black when mature and releasing a sweet smell when crushed. The pods do not split along their length; instead they break up on the ground.

The timber is dark brown and very hard. It can be used to make mine shafts, but more usually it is used for tool handles. Formerly the pods were widely used to tan leather. Leaf extracts are used to treat a variety of medical complaints.

Acacia nilotica tree
Acacia nilotica tree
Acacia nilotica flowers
Acacia nilotica flowers
Acacia nilotica thorns
Acacia nilotica thorns