Photo of the whole Umbrella Thorn tree
Acacia tortilis (Haak en steek) - The Hook thorns and Stab Spines!
Umbrella Thorn Flowers
The Yellow flowers of the Acacia tortilis
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Acacia tortilis - Umbrella Thorn - Haak-en-steek
The Acacia tortilis is the iconic "Out of Africa" Acacia and the english common name of Umbrella Thorn Acacia referrers to the trees overall shape, which often resembles an umbrella. The Afrikaans name of Haak en steek meaning hook and stab, refers to the fact that there are often hooked thorns that can hook you, as well as long spines that can stab you.
- Bipinnately compound (twice divided) leaves
- Spines present, at least some, if not all recurved
- Flowers in Spring – Summer
The word Acacia comes from Acantha which means Thorn
The species name: Tortilis refers to the twisted pods.
Features of the Umbrella Thorn (Haak en steek) or Acacia tortilis
- Easiest to find on the plains of the thorny bushveld.
- Most striking of the umbrella trees with a very flat umbrella canopy of grey green leaves.
- The leaflets are very tiny.
- There are some straight and some hooked thorns in different arrangements.
- Each pod is tightly coiled.
- In early summer tree is covered in small white flower balls.
- Thorns: Sharp, white thorns not always obvious.
Animals uses for the Acacia tortilis
- Browsed by antelope and giraffe.
- Pods eaten by virtually every grazing and browsing mammal often in preference to any other pod.
- Coiled pod shape makes easy to pick up with out getting mouth full of grit.
- Often damaged by elephants.
Human uses for the Umbrella Thorn or Haak en Steek
- Wood makes good wagon beams, yolks and some furniture if treated carefully
- Gum is edible.
- Inner bark can be used to make rope.
- Some trees were seen to have very few of the straight white thorns, others with many – why?
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