Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Gum Arabic, Sudan gum Arabic, gum acacia, three-thorned acacia Ateso K: Ekodokodwo Ateso T: Ekonoit Lugbara: Bina Luo A: Lakido, achika Luo L: Alal, okutokech.

+ Tree Species

Acacia senegal

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Gum Arabic is indigenous to Uganda. It's common in arid and semi-arid zones throughout Africa. Very drought resistant and tolerates high daily temperatures and long dry seasons. In Uganda, it is widely distributed in Kotido and Moroto and in the northern part of Luwero Districts where it is commonly found in wooded grassland, deciduous bushland and dry scrub with trees, 600-1,700 m. In Kampala, Gum Arabic can be found at Makerere university zone 2, Lower Nsooba among other places.

+ Description

Gum Arabic is a deciduous shrub growing to 15 m tall and usually branched from the ground. Branches fork repeatedly and in mature trees commonly form a rounded, flat-topped crown. The trunk may vary in diameter up to about 30 cm.

BARK: waxy, smooth, then peeling yellow and papery from red-brown base. The bark is greyish-white, although in old trees growing in the open it may be dark, scaly and thin, showing the bright green cambium layer just below the surface if scratched with a nail. The slash is mottled red. Has thorns that are prickles in threes, the central one hooked downwards, the two laterals curved up, brown to black.

LEAVES: bi-pinnate, usually hairy, only 3-6 pairs of pinnae, on a stalk to 7 cm, leaflets grey-green, small and narrow.

FLOWERS: creamy spikes, one or more, 2-8 cm long, fragrant, usually develop before the rainy season, buds are red.

FRUIT: pods, variable, thin and flat, oblong, about 10 cm long to 3 cm across, soft grey-yellow becoming papery brown, veins clear, few seeds.

+ Uses

Edible: seeds are dried and preserved for human consumption as a vegetable.

Agroforestry: can be used in erosion control, fixes nitrogen in the soil, improves soil fertility by nutrient cycling after leaf fall, leaves and pods are browsed by sheep, goats and camels, bees get the nectar from the flowers (apiculture), cut branches are useful for fencing in cattle because of their spines.

An ornamental tree.

Provides poles.

Provide fuel wood and  charcoal.

The long, flexible surface roots yield a strong fiber which is used for cordage, ropes and fishing nets.

Provides timber which is used for making carts and persian wheels, sugar cane crushers, agricultural implements, horse girths and tool handles.

Gum arabic exudes from the duct of the inner bark provide gum.

Essential oil from the seeds contain fats which are used both for medicine and for soap making.

Medicine: roots, bark, leaves and gum. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Acacia_senegal.PDF, https://uses.plantnet-project.org/en/Acacia_senegal_(PROTA)

+ Propagation

Seeds, tissue culture

+ Management

Slow growing, needs protection from animals during early stages of growth; lopping, coppicing, pruning if intercropped. Caution: this tree has vicious spines which will hinder movement for management of a young agricultural crop. It is thus necessary to do pruning as early as possible.

+ Remarks

Can be inter-cropped (sorghum, millet). Gum production is excellent when growing in poor soils. Gum arabic can be obtained by bark tapping and is a valuable additive in the food and pharmaceutical industry. The gum is superior to that of all other Acacias.

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