Acacia tortilis which is also known as Umbrella Thorn Acacia, Umbrella Thorn and Israeli Babool are a medium to large wiry bush to tree that can grow up to a height of 21 m (69 ft) in. This tree is a native to the savanna and Sahel of Africa (especially Sudan), and to the Middle East.
It is known as umbrella thorn because of its spreading crown. It is a dominant tree that is a source for both wild and domestic animals.
The other common names of this acacia are:
– (Afrikaans) : haak-en-steek
– (Arabic) : samar, sammar, samor, samra, sayyal, seyal, seyyal
– (English) : karamoja, umbrella thorn
– (Hebrew) : shitat ha’sochech
– (Hindi) : Israeli babool
– (Ndebele) : isanqawe, umsasane, umshishene, umtshatshatsha
– (Nyanja) : mzunga, nsangu, nsangunsangu, nyoswa
– (Somali) : abak, kura
– (Swahili) : mgunga, mugumba, munga
– (Tigrigna) : akba, akiba, alla, aqba
– (Tongan) : mukoka, muzungu, ngoka
– (Tswana) : mosu, mosunyana
– (Zulu) : umSasane
The leaves of the tree can grow about length of 2.5 cm (1 in) with 4-10 pinnate pair with a total of about 15 pairs of leaflets. The flowers of this tree are highly aromatic and are white in color and small in size. These flowers appear in clusters. The seeds are in flat pods that are coiled like a spring like structure.
This tree’s timber is used for furniture, wagon wheels, fence posts, cages, and pens. It is used for cattle fodder. The gum is edible and used as Gum Arabic. The other purposes of roots, shoots and pods are in decorations, weapons, tools, and medicines.
The Acacia tortilis is also emerging as an important species in the battle to ‘green the deserts’, as it is one of few trees to tolerate very harsh, arid environments.
The subspecies of this acacia are:
– Acacia tortilis subsp. heteracantha (Burchell)Brenan
– Acacia tortilis subsp. raddiana (Savi)Brenan
– Acacia tortilis subsp. spirocarpa (A.Rich.)Brenan
– Acacia tortilis subsp. tortilis
This tree produces gum Arabic which is a food additive, used for crafts and in cosmetics. This gum is obtained by cutting the barks. The liquid keeps oozing out of the cut bark which can be collected.
The plant is useful medically too in treatment of cough and cold and painful throat. It cures diarrhea, lowers high blood pressure. This acacia promotes digestion, soothes infection and irritations of the skin.
Growing/Caring conditions for Acacia tortilis:
– Plant or seed in a location where temperatures do not go below 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Place in a location with full sunlight.
– The plant needs to be misted.
– Let the soil be dry between the watering.
– If the soil gets too dry, the leaves will drop.
– The tree needs to feed every 15 to 20 days with a fertilizer which has low nitrogen levels.
– This helps in more bloom production.
– Prune the branches from spring to autumn.
– Prune every other year.
– Do not prune the leaves as the leaves are compound in this plant.
– Re pot the plant two to four years.
– These plants attract flies, mites, aphids and thrips and hence protect the plants from these pests.
– Protect the plant from the typical disease called Anthracnose.
– This disease infects the leaves.
– Fertilize with a layer of compost on soil.