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Acacia smallii 4.jpg
Vachellia farnesiana
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Clade: Mimosoideae
Tribe: Acacieae
Wight & Arn.
Type species
Vachellia farnesiana
(L.) Wight & Arn.

147; see text.

Vachellia Distribution Map.svg
The original range of the genus Vachellia. Today it is also found in most Mediterranean countries.
Synonyms [1]
  • Acacia subg. AcaciaVassal, nom. illeg.
  • AcaciopsisBritton & Rose
  • AldinaE.Mey.
  • BahamiaBritton & Rose
  • DelaporteaGagnepain
  • FarnesiaGasparrini
  • FeracaciaBritton & Rose
  • FishlockiaBritton & Rose
  • GumiferaRaf.
  • LucayaBritton & Rose
  • MyrmecodendronBritton & Rose
  • NimiriaCraib
  • PithecodendronSpeg.
  • PoponaxRaf.
  • ProtoacaciaMill.
  • TaurocerasBritton & Rose

Vachellia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, commonly known as thorn trees or acacias. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Its species were considered members of genus Acacia until 2009. [2] [3] Vachellia can be distinguished from other acacias by its capitate inflorescences and spinescent stipules. [4] Before discovery of the New World, Europeans in the Mediterranean region were familiar with several species of Vachellia, which they knew as sources of medicine, and had names for them that they inherited from the Greeks and Romans. [5]

Flowering plant clade of flowering plants (in APG I-III)

The flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants, with 64 orders, 416 families, approximately 13,164 known genera and c. 369,000 known species. Like gymnosperms, angiosperms are seed-producing plants. However, they are distinguished from gymnosperms by characteristics including flowers, endosperm within the seeds, and the production of fruits that contain the seeds. Etymologically, angiosperm means a plant that produces seeds within an enclosure; in other words, a fruiting plant. The term comes from the Greek words angeion and sperma ("seed").

Legume Plant in the family Fabaceae

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae, or the fruit or seed of such a plant. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for human consumption, for livestock forage and silage, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupin bean, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts and tamarind. Legumes produce a botanically unique type of fruit – a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces on two sides. A common name for this type of fruit is a pod, although the term "pod" is also applied to a number of other fruit types, such as that of vanilla and of the radish.

Fabaceae family of plants

The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, are a large and economically important family of flowering plants. It includes trees, shrubs, and perennial or annual herbaceous plants, which are easily recognized by their fruit (legume) and their compound, stipulate leaves. Many legumes have characteristic flowers and fruits. The family is widely distributed, and is the third-largest land plant family in terms of number of species, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with about 751 genera and about 19,000 known species. The five largest of the genera are Astragalus, Acacia, Indigofera, Crotalaria, and Mimosa, which constitute about a quarter of all legume species. The ca. 19,000 known legume species amount to about 7% of flowering plant species. Fabaceae is the most common family found in tropical rainforests and in dry forests in the Americas and Africa.


The wide-ranging genus occurs in a variety of open, tropical to subtropical habitats, and is locally dominant. [6] In parts of Africa, Vachellia species are shaped progressively by grazing animals of increasing size and height, such as gazelle, gerenuk, and giraffe. The genus in Africa has thus developed thorns in defence against such herbivory. [7]

Gazelle Genus of mammals

A gazelle is any of many antelope species in the genus Gazella. This article also deals with the six species included in two further genera, Eudorcas and Nanger, which were formerly considered subgenera of Gazella. A third former subgenus, Procapra, includes three living species of Asian gazelles.

Gerenuk long-necked species of antelope

The gerenuk, also known as the giraffe gazelle, is a long-necked antelope found in the Horn of Africa and the drier parts of East Africa. The sole member of the genus Litocranius, the gerenuk was first described by the naturalist Victor Brooke in 1878. It is characterised by its long, slender neck and limbs. The antelope is 80–105 centimetres (31–41 in) tall, and weighs between 28 and 52 kilograms. Two types of colouration are clearly visible on the smooth coat: the reddish brown back or the "saddle", and the lighter flanks, fawn to buff. The horns, present only on males, are lyre-shaped. Curving backward then slightly forward, these measure 25–44 centimetres (9.8–17.3 in).

Giraffe Tall African ungulate

The giraffe (Giraffa) is a genus of African even-toed ungulate mammals, the tallest living terrestrial animals and the largest ruminants. Taxonomic classifications of one to eight extant giraffe species have been described, based upon research into the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, as well as morphological measurements of Giraffa, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature currently recognises only one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, the type species, with nine subspecies. Seven other species are extinct, prehistoric species known from fossils.


By 2005, it had become clear that Acacia sensu lato needed to be split into at least five separate genera. The ICN dictated that under these circumstances, the name of Acacia should remain with the original type, which was Acacia nilotica . [1] However, that year the General Committee of the IBC decided that Acacia should be given a new type ( Acacia verticillatum ) so that the ~900 species of Australian acacias would not need to be renamed Racosperma. This decision was opposed by 54.9% or 247 representatives at its 2005 congress, while 45.1% or 203 votes were cast in favor. However, since a 60% vote was required to override the committee, the decision was carried, and a nom. cons. propositum was listed in Appendix III (p. 286). [8] [9] The 2011 congress voted 373 to 172 to uphold the 2005 decision, which means that the name Acacia and a new type follow the majority of the species in Acacia sensu lato , rather than this genus. [10] However, some members of the botanical community remain dissatisfied. [11]

<i>Acacia sensu lato</i>

Acacia s.l., known commonly as mimosa, acacia, thorntree or wattle, is a polyphyletic genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae. It was described by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773 based on the African species Acacia nilotica. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not. All species are pod-bearing, with sap and leaves often bearing large amounts of tannins and condensed tannins that historically found use as pharmaceuticals and preservatives.

<i>International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants</i> Code of scientific nomenclature

The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) is the set of rules and recommendations dealing with the formal botanical names that are given to plants, fungi and a few other groups of organisms, all those "traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants". It was formerly called the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN); the name was changed at the International Botanical Congress in Melbourne in July 2011 as part of the Melbourne Code which replaced the Vienna Code of 2005.

<i>Vachellia nilotica</i> species of plant

Vachellia nilotica is a tree in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. It is also a Weed of National Significance and is an invasive species of significant concern in Australia.


The members of Vachellia are trees or shrubs, sometimes climbing, and are always armed. Younger plants, especially, are armed with spines which are modified stipules, situated near the leaf bases. Some (cf. V. tortilis , V. hebeclada , V. luederitzii and V. reficiens ) are also armed with paired, recurved prickles (in addition to the spines). [12] The leaves are alternate and bipinnately arranged, and their pinnae are usually opposite. The racemose inflorescences usually grow from the leaf axils. The yellow or creamy white flowers are produced in spherical heads, or seldom in elongate spikes, which is the general rule in the related genus Senegalia . The flowers are typically bisexual with numerous stamens, but unisexual flowers have been noted in V. nilotica (cf. Sinha, 1971). [13] The calyx and corolla are usually 4 to 5-lobed. Glands are usually present on the rhachis and the upper side of the petiole. The seed pod may be straight, curved or curled, and either dehiscent or indehiscent. [12]

In botany, stipule is a term coined by Linnaeus which refers to outgrowths borne on either side of the base of a leafstalk. A pair of stipules is considered part of the anatomy of the leaf of a typical flowering plant, although in many species the stipules are inconspicuous or entirely absent. In some older botanical writing, the term "stipule" was used more generally to refer to any small leaves or leaf-parts, notably prophylls.

<i>Vachellia tortilis</i> species of plant

Vachellia tortilis, widely known as Acacia tortilis but attributed by APG III to the genus Vachellia, is the umbrella thorn acacia, also known as umbrella thorn and Israeli babool, a medium to large canopied tree native primarily to the savanna and Sahel of Africa, but also occurring in the Middle East.

<i>Vachellia reficiens</i> species of plant

Vachellia reficiens, commonly known as red-bark acacia, red thorn, false umbrella tree, or false umbrella thorn, is a deciduous tree or shrub of the pea family (Fabaceae) native to southern Africa, often growing in an upside-down cone shape and with a relatively flat crown.

Species list

Of the 163 species currently assigned to Vachellia, 52 are native to the Americas, 83 to Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands, 32 to Asia and 9 to Australia and the Pacific Islands. [14] Vachellia comprises the following species: [15] [2] [16] [17] [3] [18] [19] [20] [21]

Americas landmass comprising the continents of North America and South America

The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Madagascar island nation off the coast of Southeast Africa, in the Indian Ocean

Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.

<i>Vachellia abyssinica</i> species of plant

Vachellia abyssinica is a tree up to 16 m tall. Its bark is reddish-brown on older trees. On younger trees it is pale yellowish-brown, peeling off in papery wads. Young twigs are softly hairy. Thorns are aligned in straight pairs at nodes. Leaves are in pinnae pairs of 20-40; the leaflets are very small, up to 4 × 0.75 mm. The inflorescence is arranged in white spherical heads. The involucel is located in the lower half of the peduncle. Seed pods are dehiscent.

Vachellia anegadensis (pokemeboy) is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family. It is found only in the British Virgin Islands. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, sandy shores, and rural gardens. It is threatened by habitat loss.

<i>Vachellia aroma</i> species of plant

Vachellia aroma is a small, perennial, thorny tree native to Peru, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay. Some common names for it are Aromita, Aromo Negro, Espinillo and Tusca. It is not listed as being a threatened species. Although some sources say that Vachellia macracantha is synonymous with Vachellia aroma, genetic analysis of the two species has shown that they are different, but that they are closely related.

Incertae sedis

These species are suspected to belong to Vachellia, but have not been formally transferred. [18]


Related Research Articles

Mimosoideae subfamily of plants

The Mimosoideae are trees, herbs, lianas, and shrubs that mostly grow in tropical and subtropical climates. They comprise a clade, previously placed at the subfamily or family level in the flowering plant family Fabaceae (Leguminosae). In previous classifications, Mimosoideae refers to what was formerly considered the tribe Mimoseae. Characteristics include flowers in radial symmetry with petals that are valvate in bud, and have numerous showy, prominent stamens. Mimosoideae comprise about 40 genera and 2,500 species.

<i>Vachellia farnesiana</i> species of plant

Vachellia farnesiana, also known as Acacia farnesiana, and previously Mimosa farnesiana, commonly known as sweet acacia, huisache or needle bush, is a species of shrub or small tree in the legume family, Fabaceae. It is deciduous over part of its range, but evergreen in most locales. The species grows to a height of 15–30 feet (4.6–9.1 m) and grows multiple trunks. The base of each leaf is accompanied by a pair of thorns on the branch.

Vachellia sphaerocephala is a plant of the family Fabaceae. The name comes from the shape of the thorns which do indeed resemble the horns of a bull. The tree has a strong, symbiotic relationship with a species of stinging ant, Pseudomyrmex ferruginea. This tree is endemic to Mexico.

<i>Vachellia caven</i> species of plant

Vachellia caven is an ornamental tree in the Fabaceae family. Vachellia caven is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It grows four to five metres tall and bears very stiff and sharp white thorns up to 2 cm in length. It blooms in Spring, with bright yellow flowers 1 cm to 2 cm in diameter.

<i>Vachellia seyal</i> species of plant

Vachellia seyal, the red acacia, known also as the shittah tree, is a thorny, 6–10 m (20–33 ft) high tree with a pale greenish or reddish bark. At the base of the 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) feathery leaves there are two straight, light grey thorns, growing to 7–20 cm (2.8–7.9 in) long. The blossoms are displayed in round, bright yellow clusters approximately in 1.5 cm (0.59 in) diameter.

<i>Acacia sieberiana</i> species of plants

Vachellia sieberiana, until recently known as Acacia sieberiana and commonly known as the paperbark thorn or paperbark acacia, is a tree native to southern Africa and introduced into Pakistan. It is used in many areas for various purposes. The tree varies from 3 to 25 m in height, with a trunk diameter of 0.6 to 1.8 m. It is not listed as being a threatened species.

Vachellia belairioides is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family. It is found only in Cuba, confined to Holguín Province in northeastern Cuba. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Vachellia bucheri is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family found only in Cuba.

Vachellia daemon is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family found only in Cuba. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Vachellia roigii is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family found only in Cuba. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Vachellia zapatensis is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family found only in Cuba.

<i>Acaciella</i> genus of plants

Acaciella is a Neotropical genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, and its subfamily Mimosoideae. Its centre of diversity is along the Mexican Pacific coast. They are unarmed, have no extrafloral nectaries and the polyads of their pollen are 8-celled. Though its numerous free stamens is typical of Acacia s.l., it has several characteristics in common with genus Piptadenia. Its pollen and free amino acids resemble that of Senegalia. Molecular studies place it sister to a monophyletic clade comprising elements of genus Acacia, and the tribe Ingeae. A nectary ring is present between the stamens and ovary, in common with Acacia subg. Aculeiferum.

<i>Mariosousa</i> genus of plants

Mariosousa is a genus of 13 species of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Members of this genus were formerly considered to belong to the genus Acacia.

<i>Senegalia</i> genus of plants

Senegalia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Until 2005, its species were considered members of Acacia. The genus is still considered polyphyletic and will require further division. Senegalia can be distinguished from other acacias by its spicate inflorescences and non-spinescent stipules.


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