Acacia etbaica

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Local names:
Arabic (arrad), Swahili (mgunga), Tigrigna (seraw)

Acacia etbaica is a tree or shrub (min. 2) 2.5-12 m tall; trunk distinct with flattened or round crown in older trees; bark pale brown, brownish-black, reddish-grey or dark grey, smooth or fissured; spines in pairs at the nodes, brownish-white, of 2 kinds-small and recurved, to 7 mm long and long to 6 mm; slash fibrous and creamy white; twigs red-brown.

Leaves have 1-9 pairs of pinnae; leaflets in 4-35 pairs, pubescent, 0.5-4 x 0.2-1.3 mm; petiole 0.3-1 cm; petiole and rachis glands absent.

Inflorescences capitate, on axillary peduncles 0.7-4 cm long; involucel 1/3 to 2/3 up peduncle, or sometimes near the base; flowers white or cream; calyx 0.4-1 mm long, glabrous apices of lobes puberulous; corolla 2-3 mm long.

Fruit a pod, linear-oblong, purple-brown to red brown, shiny, straight, 2-12 x 0.6-2.2 cm, often attenuated at the base, glabrous or puberulous, with fine oblique or longitudinal veins, dehiscent; seeds about 8, brown or olive-brown, elliptic, flattened, 5.5 x 3.5-8 mm.

A. etbaica has a number of subspecies namely: subsp. etbaica, mainly found in Sudan and Somalia, subsp. uncinata Brenan found in Somalia, Uganda and Kenya and subsp. platycarpa Brenan found in Kenya and Tanzania. A. etbaica is also closely related to A. reficiens ssp. misera and A. elatior.

The generic name ‘acacia’ comes from the Greek word ‘akis’, meaning a point or a barb.

Ecology

A. etbaica occurs in dry bushland, thickets, semi-desert scrub and wooded grasslands.

Native range
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda

Seed storage behaviour is orthodox.

A. etbaica occurs in dry bushland, thickets, semi-desert scrub and wooded grasslands.

A. etbaica is a source of good firewood.

Timber: Provides the pillars and beams to hold the heavy earthen roofs of houses in northern Ethiopia.

Medicine:  The bark is chewed as a stimulant and is also used in the treatment of gonorrhoea