Red acacia (Acacia seyal; also known as Shittim wood or Shittim tree) is a thorny, 6-10 m (20-30 ft) high tree with a greenish or reddish bark. At the base of the 3-10 cm (1-4 in) feathery leaves there are two straight, light grey thorns. The blossoms form round, bright yellow clusters approximately in 1.5 cm (0.5 in) diameter, growing to 7-20 cm (3-8 in) long.
It is distributed from Egypt to Kenya and west Senegal. In the Sahara, it often grows in damp valleys.
Acacia seyal is beside other acacias, the most important supplier for gum arabic, a natural polysaccharide, that drips out of the cracks of the bark and solidifies.
Parts of the tree have a tannin
content of up to 18-20%. The bark and seed pods of Acacia seyal sensu lato
have a tannin content of about 20%.
Wood from the tree is said to have been used in Ancient Egypt
to make coffins
and also Noah's Ark
The bark is used to treat dysentery
and bacterial infections
of the skin
, such as leprosy
. The bark is also used as a stimulant
The gum is used as an aphrodesiac
, to treat diarrhea
, as an emollient
, to treat hemorrhaging
of the eye
ailments and rhinitis
. The gum is used to ward off arthritis
from the wood is used to treat pain from rheumatism
and to keep expectant mothers from contracting rhinitis and fevers