- Acacia trees are also known by the name Wattle.
- In India Acacia known as Babool, Kikar and Ram-kanta exceptra.
- It is an economic plant. It is used to produce gums, medicine, colour, dye, etc.
The acacia tree is a member of 160 species of trees and shrubs. Its leaves are very tender, soft, and delicate but poisonous. They will grow high but with the help of pruning, we can control their height and make the timber grow wider to its sides.
Several species in the genus bear vertically oriented phyllodes, which are green, broadened leaf petioles that function like leaf blades, an adaptation to hot climates and droughts. Some phyllodinous species have a colourful aril on the seed. A few species have cladodes rather than leaves.
- The genus Babool constitutes, in its traditional circumspection, the second largest genus in Fabaceae (Astragalus being the largest), with roughly 1,300 species, about 960 of them native to Australia, with the remainder spread around the tropical to warm-temperate regions of both hemispheres, including Europe, Africa, southern Asia, and the Americas (see List of Acacia species).
- The genus was divided into five separate genera under the tribe “Acacieae”. The genus now called Kikar represents the majority of the Australian species and a few native to southeast Asia, Réunion, and Pacific Islands. Most of the species outside Australia, and a small number of Australian species, are classified into Vachellia and Senegalia. The two final genera, Acaciella and Mariosousa, each contain about a dozen species from the Americas (but see “Classification” below for the ongoing debate concerning their taxonomy).
One species of Ram-kanta (sensu stricto) is native to Madagascar, one to Reunion island, 12 to Asia, and the remaining species (over 900) are native to Australasia and the Pacific Islands. These species were all given combinations by Pedley when he erected the genus Racosperma, hence Acacia pulchella, for example, became Racosperma pulchellum. However, these were not upheld with the retypification of Acacia.
Acacia fossil record
- A Babool-like 14 centimetres (5+1⁄2 inches) long fossil seed pod has been described from the Eocene of the Paris Basin. Kikar-like fossil pods under the name Leguminocarpon are known from late Oligocene deposits at different sites in Hungary. Seed pod fossils of Ram-kanta parschlugiana and Babool cyclosperma are known from Tertiary deposits in Switzerland.
- Babool colchica has been described from the Miocene of West Georgia. Pliocene fossil pollen of an Ram-kanta. has been described from West Georgia (including Abkhazia).Oldest records of fossil Acacia pollen in Australia are from the late Oligocene epoch, 25 million years ago.
Distribution of plant
- These plants grow in a dry and sunny atmosphere and are well adapted to climatic conditions of deserts and tropical lands like Australia or Africa.
- They thrive best at 15 to 20 degrees celsius. It will not withstand a cold climate. But some people in Northern countries raise these plants indoors thus regulating the coolness of the atmosphere. Besides this, there are some hardy Acacias available that can withstand cold to some extent and grow exponentially.
Uses of Babool
- Monetary Benefit
Kikar trees have many monetary benefits. It is widely used in producing gums and dyes. Gum Arabic, the substance extracted from Ram-kanta, is widely used to make a large variety of products including quality gums and dyes. The bark of Acacia contains Tannin which is used in the production of dyes, ink, and pharmaceuticals.
One of the most common uses of the Babool tree is the wood we get from it. It is very hard, durable, and water-resistant thus it is long-lasting. Also, it is a very fast-growing tree so planting and harvesting is a very profitable business and timber is very popular among carpenters.
- Acacia as a food
Humans also consume Acacia as food as it contains high fibre which has numerous health benefits. However, consuming too much acacia can make humans sick so it is important to take medical advice regarding the quantity of intake we should take.
- Kikar as a Medicine
It helps in reducing pain and irritation.
- It helps wound healing
- Good source of fibre
- Reduces body fat
- Controls cholesterol level and is overweight.
- Ram-kanta is mentioned in an ancient Egyptian proverb referred to by Amenhotep II: “If you lack a gold battle-axe inlaid with bronze, a heavy club of acacia wood will do.
- Babool (sensu lato) is repeatedly mentioned in the Book of Exodus, perhaps referring to Vachellia tortilis (previously known as Kikar raddiana), in regards to the construction of the Tabernacle. In Exodus 25:10, acacia wood is mentioned as the construction material for the Ark of the Covenant.
Is it poisonous?
Acacia flowers and leaves contain poison which may be harmful. So the best resort is to avoid yellow acacia flowers and use only white flowers which are not poisonous and can be consumed. The leaves of this tree contain poison probably to avoid being eaten by herbivorous animals. So humans should avoid taking leaves.