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The Industrious Acacia

Acacia is a tree with about 960 species native to Australia and about 500 found elsewhere throughout the world. Australian species are more commonly known as wattles.  Acacia is used as food and as an ingredient in food. In Mexico the small lima bean shaped seeds in the long seed pods of certain Acacia are eaten as a snack. Various foods list Acacia as an ingredient, including Fresca and RC Cola soft drinks, Altoids mints, and M&M Pretzel candy. True gum Arabic comes from Acacia.  Acacia chemistry lends certain species medicinal, industrial, and healing and ceremonial properties. Medicinally, Acacia has been used to treat premature ejaculation in Ayurvedic medicine and as a remedy for rabies in Ethiopia. The high tannin content in some species makes it ideal for use in the leather industry to tan leather. Acacia farnesiana is used in perfume due to its strong fragrance. Various parts of some species that produce psychotropic alkaloids are prepared and ingested in Shamanic healing ceremonies.  Acacia is also used in landscaping, security, and woodcraft. Because the Australian Acacias typically bear large thorns, they are sometimes planted under windows to prevent break-ins or around the perimeter of a yard to deter trespassers instead of a fence. Acacia are also used as ornamental trees because they produce dense globular clusters of flowers most commonly with yellow or cream-colored petals. Acacia wood takes a high polish, making it ideal for furniture.


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