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acacia

acacia

Over 1300 species! 960 are in Australia, the rest all over the worldespecially warm and tropical areas. This is the famous "Africa tree" we always see in pictures with a giraffe eating from it. There are even a dozen species in America and Europe. The American Black Locust tree is mistaken for Acacia, and thus called the "False Acacia". The African varieties tend to be thorny (called "thorn trees") , the Australian ones have no thorns. Acacias generally have fuzzy yellow flowers and reddish brown wood. Very fire resistant. Seed pods are three inches long with 5-6 brownish black edible seeds. Young leaves, flowers and pods are edible raw or cooked. Seeds are often used for food, either raw or toasted with salt, or ground into powder and added to sauces. Young shoots are added to salads, soups, curries, omelettes and stir-fries. Acacia is a common ingredient in soft drinks. Bark is used to make a gum called Gum Arabic, a thickening agent in deserts. Used to treat sore throat, relieving clogged bronchial passages, and is often mixed with water to make a paste to soothe and heal external injuries. High tannin levels make it very astringent and a good preservative. Bark, root and resin used to make incense and also ink dye. Fruit is used to make popular alcoholic beverage. Caution: Nineteen different species of American Acacia contain potentially toxic cyanogenic glycosides. Some of these are : Acacia erioloba, cunninghamii, obtusifolia, sieberiana, sieberiana.