|Vachellia erioloba Camel Thorn|
|Seeds and pods|
Vachellia erioloba (camel thorn, giraffe thorn, Afrikaans: Kameeldoring, Tswana: Mogôtlhô, Sotho: Mogohlo) is a southern African legume. Its preferred habitat is the deep dry sandy soils of the Northern Provinces, western Free State, northern Cape Provinces, Botswana, and the western areas of Zimbabwe and Namibia. It is also native to Angola, south-west Mozambique, Zambia, KwaZulu-Natal, and Swaziland. The tree was first described by Ernst Heinrich Friedrich Meyer and Johann Franz Drège in 1836.
The tree can grow up to 17 metres high and is commonly found in Namibia. Its name refers to the fact that giraffe (kameelperd in Afrikaans) and camels commonly graze on the harder-to-reach succulent leaves normally out of reach of smaller animals. Giraffe in particular are partial to all vachellias and manifest a specially-adapted tongue and lips that can cope with the vicious thorns. It also grows ear-shaped pods, which are favoured by a large number of herbivores including cattle. The wood is dark reddish-brown in colour and extremely dense and strong. It is slow-growing, very hardy to drought and fairly frost-resistant.
The wood is a good fuel for fires, which leads to widespread clearing of dead trees and the felling of healthy trees. According to superstition, lightning will strike at V. erioloba more often than other trees. The camel thorn's seeds can be roasted and used as a substitute for coffee beans. The camel thorn is a protected tree in South Africa.
Mokala Bark on a tree near Potgietersrust in Transvaal, South Africa
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- Kyalangalilwa B, Boatwright JS, Daru BH, Maurin O, van der Bank M (2013). "Phylogenetic position and revised classification of Acacia s.l. (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in Africa, including new combinations in Vachellia and Senegalia.". Bot J Linn Soc. 172 (4): 500–523. doi:10.1111/boj.12047.
- "Protected Trees" (PDF). Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Republic of South Africa. 3 May 2013.
- The type specimen of Acacia giraffae, proved on closer examination to be a hybrid of V. haematoxylon and the species which would later become known as V. erioloba. The name V. erioloba was therefore proposed for the vast numbers of camel thorn which are not hybrids.
- "Vachellia erioloba". GRIN Taxonomy for Plants. USDA. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
- Mhloniswa Dlamini; Walter Sisulu (2005). "Acacia erioloba". PlantzAfrica. South African National Biodiversity Institute. Retrieved 11 November 2014.