Acacia Trees – Legume Family (Fabaceae)

The acacias represent a very large group of trees and shrubs, within the huge Legume family (Fabaceae). About 1,300 species of Acacia have been described, about three-fourths of them are native to Australia, where they are appropriately called thorn trees.

In fact, the generic name Acacia comes from a Greek word for thorns; they are also called wattle trees. The remaining species are spread around the world in warm regions of all inhabited continents. In 2005, a botanic study of the genus divided the species into 5 separate genera; most of Australian species were retained in Acacia whereas many of the African and American species used as ornamentals were transferred to the new genus Vachellia. Despite these scientific name changes, general reference to this group of plants as acacias will not change. In the broad, older sense, the acacias provide human food in the form of seeds and shoots; they produce gums used in a wide range of food products; folk medicines derived from the gum, roots and wood; tannins; flower oil for perfume; wood for tools, utensils, construction, pulpwood for paper making and fuel. Because the trees fix atmospheric nitrogen, they improve soil conditions for subsistence crop growth, especially in Africa, and in hot dry areas provide much-needed shade for humans and livestock. A few Acacia species are widely grown as ornamentals because of their open crowns of delicate bipinnate leaves which cast light shade, have attractive yellowish to cream-colored, puff-like flowers and the sharp thorns on some species deter trespassing and prevent break-ins if grown beneath windows. The acacias have multiple landscape applications because of their small to medium size, hardiness and they can be easily pruned. TreeWorld has available 6 acacias, of varying sizes, to satisfy residential, commercial and public locations.

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