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Senegal Gum

Senegalia senegal

Gum Arabic tree, Sudan Gum Arabic, Kordofan gum, Three-thorned Acacia (Eng.), Driehaakdoring, Gomdoring, Geelhaak (Afr.)

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This small thorny deciduous tree is native to semi-desert regions. It is the source of the world's highest quality gum arabic, known locally as hashab gum. The tree flowers during the rainy season and loses its leaves during the dry season. When water is only available at great depth, deeply penetrating tap roots can develop, and the tree will grow considerably larger than normal. When trees are near well watered locations, they grow taller but they do not produce any gum. The tree has to be under stress, diseased, ill-nourished and cut off from water before it will produce gum. Been used by local people for the preparation of food, in human and veterinary medicine, in crafts, and as a cosmetic. The flowers are a good source of food for bees for the production honey, an important source of nutrition and income generation to support rural livelihoods in marginal lands. South Africa and Australia have policies against further introduction of this noxious weed.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Winter

Harvesting

Seeds are hard coated and must be scarified (subjected to mechanical abrasion or hot water treatment) before sowing. Seed should be harvested before pods have dried for easy collection and to avoid insect attack. Seed is easily extracted by hand.

Propagation

Seed
Germination of seed is slow, sow in spring in pots of well draining seedling mix.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
Insects are attracted to the fragrant flowers.
Drought resistant
The deep root system allows the tree to go without water for long periods.

Geography

Origin
Sub-Saharan Africa, Oman, Pakistan, west coastal India
Natural climate
Sem-desert

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Dry
Soil type
Loam, Sand
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Medicinal
It has been reportedly used for its astringent properties, to treat bleeding, bronchitis, cough, diarrhea, catarrh, gonorrhea, leprosy, typhoid fever and upper respiratory tract infection.
Edible
The dried and preserved seeds are used as vegetables.
Food industry
In the food industry gum arabic is used as a flavour fixative and emulsifier, to prevent crystallization of sugar in confectionery, as a stabilizer in frozen dairy products, for its viscosity and adhesive properties in bakery products, and as a foam stabilizer and clouding agent in beer.
Foraging
The leaves and pods are browsed by sheep, goats, camels, impala and giraffe.
Wood
The wood of S. senegal can be used to make handles for tools, and parts for weaving looms. It is also valued as firewood and can be used to produce charcoal.

Personality

Family
Fabaceae
Flower colour
, Cream, Yellow, White
Scent
Mild

Problems

Generally problem free.

Companion plants

Generally grown on their own.

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