Acacia farnesiana

Acacia farnesiana

Acacia farnesiana, commonly known as Needle Bush, is so named because of the numerous thorns distributed along its branches. The native range of A. farnesiana is uncertain. While the point of origin is Mexico and Central America the species has a pantropical distribution incorporating Northern Australia and Southern Asia. It remains unclear whether the extra-American distribution is primarily natural or anthropogenic. It is deciduous over part of its range, but evergreen in most locales. The species grows to a height of up to 8m tall and has a life span of about 25-50 years.

The plant has been recently spread to many new locations as a result of human activity and it is considered a serious weed in Fiji, where locals call it Ellington's Curse. It thrives in dry, saline or sodic soils. It is also a serious pest plant in parts of Australia, including north-west New South Wales, where it now infests thousands of acres of grazing country.

The taxon name "farnesiana" comes from the Farnese Gardens in Rome. It was brought there from the Caribbean and Central America.

A little of the Uses

Bark

The bark is used for its tannin content.

Food

"Roasted pods used in sweet and sour dishes.

Flowers

The flowers are processed through distillation to produce a perfume called Cassie. It is widely used in the perfume industry in Europe. Scented ointments from Cassie are made in India.

Foliage

The foliage is a significant source of forage in much of its range, with a protein content of around 18%.

Seed pods

The concentration of tannin in the seed pods is about 23%.

Seeds

The seeds of A. farnesiana are completely non-toxic to humans and are a valuable food source for people throughout the plant's range. The mature seeds are put through a press to make oil for cooking. Nonetheless an anecdotal report has been made that in Brazil some people use the seeds of A. farnesiana to eliminate rabid dogs. This is attributed to an unnamed toxic alkaloid.

Forage

The tree makes good forage for bees.

Dyes and Inks

A black pigment is extracted from the bark and fruit.

Perfume

Acaci farnesiana flowers are distilled in the south of France to make an essential oil called Cassie which is used as a basis for aromatherapy and perfume.

Traditional medicine

The bark and the flowers are the parts of the tree most used in traditional medicine. A. farnesiana has been used in Colombia to treat malaria, and recently it has been been confirmed in the laboratory that extract from the tree bark and leaves is effective against the malarial pathogen Plasmodium falciparum. Indiginous Australians have used the roots and bark of the tree to treat diarrhea and diseases of the skin. The tree's leaves can also be rubbed on the skin to treat skin diseases.

One or more alkaloids present in Acacia farnesiana: "phenethylamine; N-methly-.beta.-phenethylamine; tyramine; hordenine; N,N-dimethyl-phenethylamine; and N,N-dimethyl-.alpha.-methylphenethylamine" in the "leaves, bark, and roots.

The following compounds are said to be in Acacia farnesiana:

Ether extracts about 2-6% of the dried leaf mass. Alkaloids are present in the bark.

Common names

Farnese Wattle, Dead Finish, Mimosa Wattle, Mimosa bush, Prickly Mimosa Bush, Prickly Moses, Needle Bush, North-west Curara, Sheep's Briar, Sponge Wattle, Sweet Acacia, Thorny Acacia, Thorny Feather Wattle, Wild Briar, Huisache, Cassie, Cascalotte, Cassic, Mealy Wattle, Popinac, Sweet Briar, Texas Huisache, Aroma, (Bahamas) Cashia, (Bahamas, USA) Opoponax, Cashaw, (Belize) Cuntich, (Jamaica) Cassie-flower, Cassie, Iron Wood, Cassie Flower, Honey-ball, Casha Tree, Casha, (Virgin Islands) Cassia, (Fiji) Ellington's Curse.

Botanical varieties

References

Notes

General references

External links

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