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Sweet thorn acacia

Vachellia karroo

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A beautiful and useful tree that occurs from the Western Cape (RSA) to Zambia and Angola. Is usually linked to the sweetveld (good grazing and fertile soils). The tree is also used in woodworking, firewood, animal feed and nectar for honey making. The tree can live up to 40 years, is a very adaptable pioneer and re-sprouter (grows up to 1m per year). In cool dry areas it becomes deciduous. It has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, making it more fertile for grasses. Uses: Gum (sap) is eaten, used in pharmacaceutical products, for confectionary and as an adhesive, wood for woodworking, colourful garden plant (in spring), attracts insects and birds, for shade and wind breaks and has traditional medicinal uses.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Summer
Fruiting time
Autumn

Harvesting

Can harvest the gum (sap) for eating purposes.

Propagation

Seed
Sow seeds 2-5 mm deep in sandy soil mix. Germination takes 3-12 weeks.

Special features

Attracts birds
Birds also like to make nests in thorn trees as the thorns offer them some protection from predators.
Attracts useful insects
Caterpillars of 10 species of butterflies are dependant on the tree for survival. These include, the club-tailed charaxes (Charaxes zoolina zoolina) and the topaz-spotted blue (Azanus jesous).
Drought resistant
This tree has a long taproot which enables it to use water and nutrients from deep underground, this and its ability to fix nitrogen, lead to grasses and other plants thriving in its shade.
Hedge plant
Can be grown into large hedges.

Geography

Origin
South Africa, Karoo
Natural climate
Semi-arid

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Hardy

Uses

Edible
The gum is edible.
Medicinal
Medicinal uses are wound poultices to eye treatments and cold remedies.
Manufacture
The gum can be used as an adhesive and the wood for woodworking.
Animal feed
It is a particularly good fodder tree, stock and game feed on the leaves, flowers and pods.

Personality

Family
Fabaceae
Flower colour
Yellow
Scent
Mild

Problems

Generally problem free.

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