Photo of the whole Black Thorn tree
Acacia mellifera is often multi-stemmed
Mellifera means “honey bearing”
Image of flowers and thorns
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Acacia mellifera - Black Thorn - Swaarthaak
The Acacia mellifera is generally a low branched tree that can be multi-stemmed. Leaves bipinnately compound (twice divided) Spines present, at least some, if not all recurved.
The word Acacia comes from Acantha which means Thorn
The species name: Mellifera means “honey bearing” and refers to the flowers.
Features of the Black Thorn (Swaarthaak) or Acacia mellifera
- The black thorn acacia grows in large uniform groups especially in disturbed and overgrazed areas.
- Small low branching tree, dense tangled canopy.
- Hooked thorns are black
- Creamy white flower – balls cover the tree in spring before the leaves appear.
Pods: Flat bean pods are papery, dehiscent.
Animals uses for the Acacia mellifera
- Valuable fodder tree on game and cattle farms
- The leaves, young branchlets and pods are very nutritious containing a high percentage of protein.
- Browsed by Black Rhino, Giraffe, Eland, Kudu and many others.
- Flowers eaten by Kudu
Human uses for the Black Thorn or Swaarthaak
- Wood used for axe and pick handles.
- Heartwood is termite and borer proof, larger stems therefore make excellent fencing posts
- Sap was mixed with a powdered grub for use on Khoisan poison arrows.
- Gum is edible and sometimes mixed with clay to make floors.
- Extractions made from roots used for stomach pains and to treat gonorrhoea.
- Extracts from roots and leaves used to treat colds, eye inflammation, diarrhoea and bleeding.
- The Black Tharon can form impenetrable thickets
- Anti biosis.
- Bush splits very early, often splits when it dies.
- The Acacia mellifera does not live long (about 10 years.)
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