Acacia lahai

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In view of the fact that some tree species are invasive, the world Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has put in place a policy document on Invasive Alien Species, currently under draft available at Here.

For more information on this subject, please refer to
100 of the World's worst Invasive and Alien Species.

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Abelmoschus moschatus
Acacia aneura
Acacia angustissima
Acacia aulacocarpa
Acacia auriculiformis
Acacia catechu
Acacia cincinnata
Acacia crassicarpa
Acacia elatior
Acacia erioloba
Acacia etbaica
Acacia ferruginea
Acacia glauca
Acacia holosericea
Acacia karroo*
Acacia koa
Acacia laeta
Acacia lahai
Acacia leptocarpa
Acacia leucophloea
Acacia mangium
Acacia mearnsii*
Acacia melanoxylon
Acacia mellifera
Acacia nilotica subsp nilotica
Acacia pachycarpa
Acacia pennatula
Acacia polyacantha ssp. polyacantha
Acacia saligna
Acacia senegal
Acacia seyal
Acacia sieberiana
Acacia tortilis
Acacia xanthophloea
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius
Adansonia digitata
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Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
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Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
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Albizia gummifera
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Albizia odoratissima
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Albizia saman
Albizia versicolor
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Areca catechu
Arenga pinnata
Argania spinosa
Artemisia annua
Artocarpus altilis
Artocarpus camansi
Artocarpus heterophyllus
Artocarpus integer
Artocarpus lakoocha
Artocarpus mariannensis
Asimina triloba
Ateleia herbert-smithii
Aucomea klaineana
Averrhoa bilimbi
Averrhoa carambola
Azadirachta excelsa
Azadirachta indica
Azanza garckeana

Local names:
English (red thorn), Tigrigna (lehai)

Acacia lahai is a flat-topped tree 3-15 m tall  with rough brown or grey-brown bark. Young branchlets brown to blackish-purple, pubescent. Stipules spinescent, up to 7 cm long, straight, subulate but not enlarged or fusiform, prickles absent below stipules. Bark gray-brown and fibrous in texture.

Leaves pinnate, pinnae 3-15 pairs, leaflets glabrous 10-28 pairs, 1.5-4.5 mm long 0.3-1.0 mm wide.

Flowers cream or white, sessile, in spikes 2.5-7 cm long on peduncles 0.7-2 cm long, axis with many subsessile or subsessile glands. Calyx 0.5-1.25 mm long. Corolla 2-3 mm long, glabrous, 4-5 lobed. Stamen filaments 4.5-5 mm long; anthers 0.1 mm across with a caducous gland.

Fruit a brown, straight or falcate, dehiscent pod, glabrous on stipe, 4-7 cm long x 1.5-3 cm wide.

Seeds obliquely obovate, flattened, 6-7 mm long x 5 mm wide.

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


A. lahai is characteristic of high altitude woodland and wooded savanna. Locally common where upland forest has disappeared it forms dense woodlands invading grasslands.

Native range
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

Tree management

A. lahai is a fast growing tree commonly managed by lopping.

Seed storage behaviour is orthodox, there are approximately 4 000 seeds/kg. The damaged, lighter seeds can be selectively collected by immersing in water. Pre-sowing treatment not necessary.

A. lahai is characteristic of high altitude woodland and wooded savanna. Locally common where upland forest has disappeared it forms dense woodlands invading grasslands.

Propagation by seed is the most preferred method.

Erosion control:  An important erosion control tree in wooded grasslands and savanna.

The tree is a significant source of firewood, and makes excellent charcoal.

Timber:   Wood red, hard and durable. Timber is used for construction in Kenya.

Shade or shelter:  The tree's broad canopy and heavy foliage make it a good shade tree.

Tannin or dyestuff:  Aqueous bark extracts are sprinkled on pottery to impart a reddish finish.

Medicine:  Bark used for the treatment of skin eruptions in children, clearing toxicaemia of pregnancy and bowels and also as an astringent.

Gum or resin:  An edible gum is collected from A. lahai.

Nitrogen fixing:  The tree is nitrogen fixing thus improves soil fertility.

Dry timber used as fence posts.