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Acacia nilotica (acacia)

The wood of Acacia nilotica was used by ancient Egyptians to make statues and furniture.
Spiny branch and yellow inflorescences of Acacia nilotica

Spiny branch and yellow inflorescences of Acacia nilotica (Photo: Michelle Greve)

Species information

Common name: 

acacia, Egyptian mimosa, Egyptian thorn, red thorn. Babool, babul (in India). Burkill gives at least 129 different names for this plant as a whole or for the fruit and seeds.

Conservation status: 

IUCN status: ‘Least Concern’.


The species can withstand extremely dry environments and can also endure floods. It thrives under irrigation.

Known hazards: 

The leaves and fruits can be poisonous if eaten in large quantities.


Leguminosae/ Fabaceae - Mimosoideae
Genus: Acacia

About this species

This species has been used since early Egyptian dynasties. Disocorides (the Greek philosopher, physician and ‘father of botany’ c.40 to 90 A.D.) described in his ‘Materia Medica’ a preparation extracted from the leaves and fruit pods. He called this ‘akakia’, and it is from this word that the modern name is derived. The origin of the name Acacia means 'spiny' which is a typical feature of the species.


main info

Courses at Kew

Kew offers a variety of specialist training courses in horticulture, conservation and plant science.

Students learn about plant taxonomy and identification

Why People Need Plants

A compelling book from Kew Publishing that explores the crucial role that plants play in the everyday lives of all of us.

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