Characteristics of Babul Tree (Vachellia nilotica) in the Wild

Vachellia nilotica
Babul or Gum Arabic tree is a tree species in the Fabaceae family, native to Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. In various regions, this tree is referred to as Thorn Mimosa, Thorny Acacia, or Egyptian Acacia.

Babul trees have been naturalized outside their natural habitat including in Zanzibar and Australia. However, this tree has now become an invasive species in Australia and is a major concern there.

The babul tree was originally classified in the genus Acacia, which is derived from the Ancient Greek ἀκακία or akakía, a name given to the early Greek botanist Pedanius Dioscorides. This tree is also used as medicine in the book entitled Materia Medica. However, at this time the Babul tree was transferred to the genus Vachellia, despite being controversial in the botanical world.

The name nilotica was given by Linnaeus who was inspired by this list of the most famous trees along the Nile.

Babul tree wood is known as Acacia wood and is one of the woods that is valued with high economic value because of its durability and strength.

 

Characteristics of Babul Leaf

Vachellia nilotica Leaf
Source : flickr.com/Siddarth Machado

The leaves are bipinnate, with 3-6 pairs of pinnulas and 10-30 pairs of leaflets, tomentose, rachis with glands at the bottom of the last pair of pinnulas.

 

Characteristics of Babul Flower

Vachellia nilotica Flower
Source : flickr.com/Siddarth Machado

The flowers appear on branches, are round in shape 1-2 cm wide, and are bright golden yellow.

 

Characteristics of Babul Fruit

Vachellia nilotica Fruit
Source : flickr.com/Nelindah

The fruit is pod type, hanging, downy, and green when young and brown when ripe.

The fruit and leaves are thought to have anthelminthic properties in small ruminants and have been confirmed by in vitro experiments on nematodes.

 

Characteristics of Babul Tree

Vachellia nilotica Tree
Source : flickr.com/Steve & Alison1

Babul trees can grow 15-20 meters tall in the wild, with crowns resembling umbrellas or round balls. The trunk and branches are dark black, the bark is cracked, rough, and if it is injured, it will release a reddish sap.

The branches have spines 5-7 cm long, straight, stiff, grayish-white, and come in pairs. Adult Babul trees usually don’t have thorns on their trunks.

 
BENEFITS OF BABUL TREE

The fruit is used as a supplement for the ration of poultry in India.

In India, the branches and leaves are taken for animal feed.

The sap is known as Arabic gum and has been collected from the wild since pharaonic times for the manufacture of medicinal herbs, dyes, and paints.

In today’s modern commercial market, Arabic gum is extracted from the trunks of the Senegalese Acacia (Acacia senegal or Vachellia senegal) and is referred to as Amaravati gum.

Babul tree wood is very durable when processed using the water method, and includes strong wood which is often used to make musical instruments, boats, and ships.

 

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