|In Kirstenbosch, Cape Town|
Vachellia sieberiana was known as Acacia sieberiana until 2005. It is a tree native to Africa and introduced into Pakistan. In South Africa it is known as the Paperbark Thorn. It is used in many areas for various purposes. The tree varies from 3 to 25 m in height, with a trunk diameter of 0.6 to 1.8 m. It is not listed as being a threatened species.
Vachellia sieberiana is valued largely as a source of forage, medicine and wood. The inner bark is a source of fibre purposes such as stringing beads). The gum is edible) and both livestock and game animals browse the tree and feed on the dropped pods, spreading viable seeds in their dung.
The flowers of the tree make good forage for bees and bee hives are put directly in the trees to exploit the resource. The leaves of the tree commonly release toxic chemical compounds when the tree has been heavily browsed, some of the compounds may release hydrogen cyanide when ingested, which may be lethal to cattle. They fallen pods and foliage can provide lifesaving forage during dry times of the year.
Traditional medicinal uses
In Africa, the bark or root is used to treat urinary tract inflammation. The bark has astringent properties and it is used to treat colds, cough, and childhood fever. According to the World AgroForestry Centre,
"A decoction of the root is taken as remedy for stomach-ache. The bark, leaves and gums are used to treat tapeworm, bilharzia, haemorrhage, orchitis, colds, diarrhoea, gonorrhoea, kidney problems, syphilis, ophthalmia, rheumatism and disorders of the circulatory system. It is also used as an astringent. The pods serve as an emollient, and the roots for stomach-ache, acne, tapeworms, urethral problems, oedema and dropsy."
Vachellia sieberiana is a legume and like many legumes it hosts Rhizobium bacteria in its roots. The bacteria fix nitrogen gas from the air and without requiring nitrogen fertilizer or soil nitrates, they convert it into nitrogen compounds necessary for plant nutrition. Ultimately, surrounding plants also benefit from the increase in available nitrogen, which means that plants such as Vachellia species are of particular ecological importance.
Ecology and Conservation
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