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A picture of a Paperbark Thorn

Paperbark Thorn

Vachellia sieberiana var. woodii

Photo by Mahomed Desai (CC BY 4.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size







  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Paperbark Thorn

A close up of some green Paperbark Thorn Vachellia sieberiana var. woodii leaves on a tree
A close up of a Paperbark Thorn Vachellia sieberiana var. woodii tree trunk

Paperbark Thorn Overview

Pure stands of these beautifully shaped trees with their perfectly flattened crowns are quite stunning. Where else but in Africa would you encounter such a sight? Vachellia sieberiana var. woodii, commonly known as Paperback Thorn, is a magnificent, widely spreading, flat crown of deep green, feathery foliage and attractive creamy-tan to yellow-brown corky bark. The Paperback Thorn is suitable for planting in large gardens or parks, best planted individually to show off their magnificent shape, but will work well as a group of 3 to 5 trees planted in a grove. In nature, it is found growing in woodland, wooded grassland and along riverbanks. This tree is half-hardy and very fast-growing with fertile soil and sufficient water and tolerates temperatures ranging from about -2°C to 40°C. Plant in the sun. This tree was previously known as Acacia sieberiana, however these plants are now considered distinct. The genus name Vachellia refers to George Harvey Vachell (1789 – 1839), chaplain to the British East India Company in Macoa, who collected plants in China; sieberiana is named for Franz Sieber (1789-1844), a Bohemian botanist, traveller and plant collector.

Common problems with Paperbark Thorn

Generally problem free.

    How to harvest Paperbark Thorn

    Generally not harvested.

    How to propagate Paperbark Thorn


    Seeds need to be immersed in boiling water and soaked overnight before planting.

    Special features of Paperbark Thorn

    Attracts useful insects

    The flowers lure beetles, bees, butterflies and thrips, in turn attracting insectivorous birds, like the Bar-throated Apalis, White-bellied, Black and Collared Sunbirds.

    Attracts birds

    Pied and Crested Barbets make their nesting holes in this tree. Wood-hoopoes often scratch around under the loose bark for insects. Grey Hornbills crack the pods open and eat the seeds.

    Attracts butterflies

    Drought resistant

    Attractive flowers

    Attracts bees

    Other uses of Paperbark Thorn


    In Africa, the bark or root is used to treat urinary tract inflammation. The bark has astringent properties and it is used to treat colds, cough, and childhood fever.

    Other uses


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