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Vachellia farnesiana
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Clade: Mimosoid clade
Genus: Vachellia
Wight & Arn.
Type species
Vachellia farnesiana
(L.) Wight & Arn.

147; see text.

World map showing Vachellia species occurring through out the tropics
The original range of the genus Vachellia. Today it is also found in most Mediterranean countries.
  • Acacia subg. Acacia Vassal, nom. illeg.
  • Acaciopsis Britton & Rose
  • Aldina E.Mey.
  • Bahamia Britton & Rose
  • Delaportea Gagnepain
  • Farnesia Gasparrini
  • Feracacia Britton & Rose
  • Fishlockia Britton & Rose
  • Gumifera Raf.
  • Lucaya Britton & Rose
  • Myrmecodendron Britton & Rose
  • Nimiria Craib
  • Pithecodendron Speg.
  • Poponax Raf.
  • Protoacacia Mill.
  • Tauroceras Britton & Rose

Vachellia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, commonly known as thorn trees or acacias. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Its species were considered members of genus Acacia until 2009.[2][3] Vachellia can be distinguished from other acacias by its capitate inflorescences and spinescent stipules.[4] Before discovery of the New World, Europeans in the Mediterranean region were familiar with several species of Vachellia, which they knew as sources of medicine, and had names for them that they inherited from the Greeks and Romans[clarification needed].[5]

The wide-ranging genus occurs in a variety of open, tropical to subtropical habitats, and is locally dominant.[6] In parts of Africa, Vachellia species are shaped progressively by grazing animals of increasing size and height, such as gazelle, gerenuk, and giraffe. The genus in Africa has thus developed thorns in defence against such herbivory[clarification needed].[7]


By 2005, taxonomists had decided that Acacia sensu lato should be split into at least five separate genera. The ICN dictated that under these circumstances, the name of Acacia should remain with the original type, which was Acacia nilotica.[1] However, that year the General Committee of the IBC decided that Acacia should be given a new type (Acacia verticillatum) so that the ~920 species of Australian acacias would not need to be renamed Racosperma. This decision was opposed by 54.9% or 247 representatives at its 2005 congress, while 45.1% or 203 votes were cast in favor. However, since a 60% vote was required to override the committee, the decision was carried, and a nom. cons. propositum was listed in Appendix III (p. 286).[8][9] The 2011 congress voted 373 to 172 to uphold the 2005 decision, which means that the name Acacia and a new type follow the majority of the species in Acacia sensu lato, rather than this genus.[10] However, some members of the botanical community remain unconvinced,[11] and the use of Acacia in the scientific literature continues to exceed the use of the new generic names.


The members of Vachellia are trees or shrubs, sometimes climbing, and are always armed. Younger plants, especially, are armed with spines which are modified stipules, situated near the leaf bases. Some (cf. V. tortilis, Vachellia hebeclada [Wikidata], V. luederitzii and V. reficiens) are also armed with paired, recurved prickles (in addition to the spines).[12] The leaves are alternate and bipinnately arranged, and their pinnae are usually opposite. The racemose inflorescences usually grow from the leaf axils. The yellow or creamy white flowers are produced in spherical heads, or seldom in elongate spikes, which is the general rule in the related genus Senegalia. The flowers are typically bisexual with numerous stamens, but unisexual flowers have been noted in V. nilotica (cf. Sinha, 1971).[13] The calyx and corolla are usually 4 to 5-lobed. Glands are usually present on the rachis and the upper side of the petiole. The seed pod may be straight, curved or curled, and either dehiscent or indehiscent.[12]

Species list[edit]

Of the 163 species currently assigned to Vachellia, 52 are native to the Americas, 83 to Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands, 32 to Asia and 9 to Australia and the Pacific Islands.[14] Vachellia comprises the following species:[15][2][16][17][3][18][19][20][21]

Incertae sedis[edit]

These species are suspected to belong to Vachellia, but have not been formally transferred.[18]


  • Vachellia × cedilloi (Rico Arce) Seigler & Ebinger
  • Vachellia campechiana × pennatula
  • Vachellia erioloba × haematoxylon
  • Vachellia × gladiata (Saff.) Seigler & Ebinger
  • Vachellia kirkii × seyal
  • Vachellia macracantha × pennatula
  • Vachellia seyal var. fistula × xanthophloea
  • Vachellia × standleyi (Saff.) Seigler & Ebinger


  1. ^ a b Maslin, B. R.; Orchard, A. E.; West, J. G. "Nomenclatural and classification history of Acacia (Leguminosae: Mimosoideae), and the implications of generic subdivision" (PDF). Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b 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". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 172 (4): 500–523. doi:10.1111/boj.12047.
  3. ^ a b Clarke HD, Seigler DS, Ebinger JE (2009). "Taxonomic Revision of the Vachellia acuifera Species Group (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in the Caribbean". Systematic Botany. 34 (1): 84–101. doi:10.1600/036364409787602285. S2CID 86066178.
  4. ^ Dyer C. (2014). "New names for the African Acacia species in Vachellia and Senegalia". Southern Forests: A Journal of Forest Science. 76 (4): iii. doi:10.2989/20702620.2014.980090.
  5. ^ Austin, Daniel F. (2004). Florida ethnobotany Fairchild Tropical Garden, Coral Gables, Florida, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona: with more than 500 species illustrated by Penelope N. Honychurch ... [et al.] Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. pp. 58–59. ISBN 9780203491881.
  6. ^ Shorrocks, Bryan; Bates, William (2014). The Biology of African Savannahs (Biology of Habitats Series ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 231–233. ISBN 978-0198702702.
  7. ^ Chidumayo, Emmanuel N.; Gumbo, Davison J. (2010). The Dry Forests and Woodlands of Africa: Managing for Products and Services. Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 9781136531378.
  8. ^ Corder, Hugh; Glazewski, Jan; Bleazard, Janice (2009). A Rose is a Rose but is an 'Acacia' an 'Acacia'? Global administrative law: development and innovation. Cape Town: Juta. ISBN 9780702181900.
  9. ^ Moore, Gerry; Smith, Gideon F.; Figueiredo, Estrela; Demissew, Sebsebe; Lewis, Gwilym; Schrire, Brian; Rico, Lourdes; van Wyk, Abraham E.; Luckow, Melissa; Kiesling, Roberto; Sousa, Mario (June 2011). "The Acacia controversy resulting from minority rule at the Vienna Nomenclature Section: Much more than arcane arguments and complex technicalities" (PDF). Taxon. 60 (3): 852–857. doi:10.1002/tax.603017. hdl:2263/17167. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  10. ^ "The Acacia debate" (PDF). IBC2011 Congress News. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  11. ^ "Conserving Acacia Mill. with a conserved type: What happened in Melbourne?" (PDF). Taxon. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Hyde, Mark; et al. "3446.000 Acacia Mill.—Thorn trees". Flora of Zimbabwe. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Handbook on seeds of dry-zone acacias, 3. Reproductive biology". FAO Corporate Document Repository: Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  14. ^ Thiele KR. (2011). "The controversy over the retypification of Acacia Mill. with an Australian type: A pragmatic view" (PDF). Taxon. 60 (1): 194–198. doi:10.1002/tax.601017. JSTOR 41059833.
  15. ^ Seigler DS, Ebinger JE (2005). "New combinations in the genus Vachellia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) from the New World". Phytologia. 87 (3): 139–78.
  16. ^ Seigler DS, Ebinger JE (2010). "New combinations in Senegalia and Vachellia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae)" (PDF). Phytologia. 92 (1): 92–95.
  17. ^ Maslin BR, Seigler DS, Ebinger J (2013). "New combinations in Senegalia and Vachellia (Leguminosae: Mimosoideae) for Southeast Asia and China". Blumea. 58 (1): 39–44. doi:10.3767/000651913X669914.
  18. ^ a b Maslin B. "List of Acacia sensu lato species". World Wide Wattle. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  19. ^ Kodela PG, Wilson PG (2006). "New combinations in the genus Vachellia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) from Australia". Telopea. 11 (2): 233–244. doi:10.7751/telopea20065723.
  20. ^ Ali SI. (2014). "The Genus Acacia s.l. in Pakistan" (PDF). Pak J Bot. 46 (1): 1–4.
  21. ^ Boatwright JS, Maurin O, van der Bank M (2015). "Phylogenetic position of Madagascan species of Acacia s.l. and new combinations in Senegalia and Vachellia (Fabaceae, Mimosoideae, Acacieae)". Bot J Linn Soc. 179 (2): 288–294. doi:10.1111/boj.12320.
  22. ^ Maiden, J. H. (1889). The Useful Native Plants of Australia (including Tasmania). Sydney: Turner and Henderson. p. 3.
  23. ^ Maslin BR. (2014). "Vachellia bolei (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae), the correct name for a species from India" (PDF). Nuytsia. 24: 21–22.
  24. ^ a b c d e f Taxon in the V. karroo complex, see: Roland, Dr. Wolf-Achim. "The Acacia (s.l.)-karroo complex, Status 2014". Acacia World. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Protected Trees" (PDF). Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Republic of South Africa. 3 May 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2010.
  26. ^ Seigler DS, García R, Mejía M, Ebinger JE (2012). "A new species of Vachellia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) from Haiti". Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 6 (1): 45. Archived from the original on 2016-03-01.