Acacia elatior

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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
Adenanthera pavonina
Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
Agathis macrophylla
Agathis philippinensis
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus excelsa
Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
Albizia amara
Albizia anthelmintica
Albizia chinensis
Albizia coriaria
Albizia ferruginea
Albizia gummifera
Albizia julibrissin
Albizia lebbeck
Albizia odoratissima
Albizia procera
Albizia saman
Albizia versicolor
Albizia zygia
Aleurites moluccana
Allanblackia floribunda
Allanblackia stuhlmannii
Allanblackia ulugurensis
Alnus acuminata
Alnus cordata
Alnus japonica
Alnus nepalensis
Alnus rubra
Alphitonia zizyphoides
Alstonia boonei
Alstonia congensis
Alstonia scholaris
Altingia excelsa
Anacardium occidentale
Andira inermis
Annona cherimola
Annona muricata
Annona reticulata
Annona senegalensis
Annona squamosa
Anogeissus latifolia
Anthocephalus cadamba
Antiaris toxicaria
Antidesma bunius
Araucaria bidwillii
Araucaria cunninghamii
Arbutus unedo
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 (river acacia), Somali (burra,bura), Swahili (mgunga)

Acacia elatior is a tall, evergreen, riverine tree, 7-40 m tall; crown rounded or flattish; bark brown to almost black, deeply fissured; stipular spines of 2 kinds in pairs at the nodes - shorter, 7 mm, brown, sometimes, curved spines, alternating with longer spines, which may reach 9 cm and are straight, white, with a swollen base; the larger spines are sometimes inflated to about 6 (max. 15) mm across; trunk is large, and young twigs are reddish-brown. 

Leaves with 5-13 pairs of pinnae; leaflets in (min. 7) 13-25 pairs, 1.2-4 x 0.5-1.4 mm, small and narrow, glabrous or ciliate; petiole 3-10 mm; petiole and rachis glands absent.

Flowers in round heads, greenish-white or white to very pale yellow; involucel small, about 1/3 along length of peduncle.

Fruits are brown to purplish-brown pods, straight or slightly falcate, narrowly oblong, 3.5-12 x 1.2-1.8 cm, tapering at the tip, papery texture, dehiscent; seeds olive-brown, subcircular, 6-7 mm in diameter, thin, flattened.
In Kenya, two subspecies are recogized namely subs. elatior and subs. turkanae

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


A. elatior occurs along rivers and lakes, near drainage lines or on dry beds of arid and semi-arid regions. In Kenya, it is mainly restricted to the Galana and Tana rivers in the east and Kerio River, Lodwar and the vicinity of L. Turkana in the west.

Native range
Kenya, Sudan, Uganda

Tree management

Trees grow fast if planted in riverbeds but are slow elsewhere.

Seed storage behaviour is orthodox.

A. elatior occurs along rivers and lakes, near drainage lines or on dry beds of arid and semi-arid regions. In Kenya, it is mainly restricted to the Galana and Tana rivers in the east and Kerio River, Lodwar and the vicinity of L. Turkana in the west.

A. elatior naturally regenerates from seedlings and wildings. Young plants are slow in starting their upward growth.

Erosion control:  The trees may be planted to stabilize river banks.

Pods and young shoots are browsed by livestock.

A. elatior wood produces good firewood and charcoal.

Timber:  The Turkana of Kenya use the wood to make drinking vessels.

Shade or shelter:  The drooping branches and feathery leaves of A. elatior provide good shade.

Medicine:  In Kenya a bark decoction is used to treat diarrhoea and gonorrhoea and as a remedy for coughs.

The tree provides suitable fencing for livestock enclosures; used by the Maasai of Kenya.