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A picture of a Sweet Thorn Acacia

Sweet Thorn Acacia

Vachellia karroo

Also known as

Karroothorn, Karru wattle, Sweet thorn, Mimosa thorn, Cockspur thorn

Full Sun
Easy care
Light watering
Frost Hardy

H4

RHS hardiness

-10°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

20m

Max

8m

8m

Min

4m

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Sweet Thorn Acacia

A photo of Sweet Thorn Acacia
A photo of Sweet Thorn Acacia
A photo of Sweet Thorn Acacia
Flowers of Vachellia karroo
A photo of Sweet Thorn Acacia

Sweet Thorn Acacia Overview

Vachellia karroo is commonly known by the name Sweet Thorn. Sweet thorns are highly ornamental plants that can be grown as a multi-stemmed shrub or pruned to a single-stemmed tree. Acacia karroo has a rounded crown, branching fairly low down on the trunk and can reach a maximum height of 12 m where water is plentiful. The bark is red on young branches, darkening and becoming rough with age. The dark green leaves are finely textured. Yellow pompom flowers appear in early summer and are pollinated by insects. The crescent-shaped seed pods are flat and sometimes with constrictions between the seeds. They are green when young becoming brown and dry. The pods split open allowing the seeds to fall to the ground. The paired thorns are greyish to white, long and straight. On mature trees, the thorns may be quite short. A beautiful and useful tree that occurs from the Western Cape (RSA) to Zambia and Angola. Is usually linked to the sweetveld (good grazing and fertile soils). The tree is also used in woodworking, firewood, animal feed and nectar for honey making. The tree can live up to 40 years, is a very adaptable pioneer and re-sprouter (grows up to 1m per year). In cool dry areas it becomes deciduous. It has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, making it more fertile for grasses. Uses: Gum (sap) is eaten, used in pharmacaceutical products, for confectionary and as an adhesive, wood for woodworking, colourful garden plant (in spring), attracts insects and birds, for shade and wind breaks and has traditional medicinal uses. A strong rope can be made from the inner bark which is pliable enough for rope-making when wet. The flowers produce lots of nectar and pollen for bee-farming and the honey has a pleasant flavour. In arid areas the sweet thorn is an indicator of water, both underground and surface.

How to harvest Sweet Thorn Acacia

Can harvest the gum (sap) for eating purposes.

How to propagate Sweet Thorn Acacia

Cuttings

Seed

Sow in spring; Germination time: 3-12 days; Sow seeds 2-5 mm deep in sandy soil mix.

Special features of Sweet Thorn Acacia

Attractive flowers

Attracts butterflies

Wind break

Pioneer

Hedge plant

Can be grown into large hedges.

Drought resistant

This tree has a long taproot which enables it to use water and nutrients from deep underground, this and its ability to fix nitrogen, lead to grasses and other plants thriving in its shade.

Attracts useful insects

Caterpillars of 10 species of butterflies are dependant on the tree for survival. These include, the club-tailed charaxes (Charaxes zoolina zoolina) and the topaz-spotted blue (Azanus jesous).

Attracts birds

Birds also like to make nests in thorn trees as the thorns offer them some protection from predators.

Other uses of Sweet Thorn Acacia

Bonsai. Edible gum. Used for chemical products, forage, domestic uses, environmental management, medicinal purposes, fibre, food, drink, and wood.

Animal feed

It is a particularly good fodder tree, stock and game feed on the leaves, flowers and pods.

Edible

The gum is edible.

Medicinal

Medicinal uses are wound poultices to eye treatments and cold remedies

Building

The gum can be used as an adhesive and the wood for woodworking.

Frost Tolerant | Trees

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