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Botanical Name :Acacia auriculiformis
Habitat :Acacia auriculiformis is native to Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. One can see these trees in Santinikatan in West Bengal, India
Acacia auriculiformis is an evergreen tree that grows between to 15-30 m tall, with a trunk up to 12 m long and 50 cm in diameter. It has dense foliage with an open, spreading crown. The trunk is crooked and the bark vertically fissured. Roots are shallow and spreading. Leaves 10-16 cm long and 1.5-2.5 cm wide with 3-8 parallel nerves, thick, leathery and curved. Flowers are 8 cm long and in pairs, creamy yellow and sweet scented. Pods are about 6.5 x 1.5 cm, flat, cartilaginous, glaucous, transversely veined with undulate margins. They are initially straight but on maturity become twisted with irregular spirals. Seeds are transversely held in the pod, broadly ovate to elliptical, about 4-6 x 3-4 mm. The generic name acacia comes from the Greek word ‘akis’ meaning a point or a barb and the specific epithet comes from the Latin ‘auricula’- external ear of animals and ‘forma- form, figure or shape, in allusion to the shape of the pod.
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It was also reported that the oil from the seeds produced some medicinal properties such as spermicidal and anti-HIV properties along with the safe use on vaginal epithelium.
The tannin rich inner bark and gums of wattles have therapeutic effects, and this has been known to Indigenous peoples since time immemorial. Bark can alleviate diarrhoea, gums can soothe inflamed skin. The Zulu of Africa use Acacia caffra as an emetic, and give the leaves to their children for tummy troubles.
In more recent times, Gum Arabic has been used as a major component of artificial blood serum. Sap from the phyllodes of the Hawaiin Acacia koa can inhibit Golden Staphylococcus bacteria, and there are recent reports that Acacia victoria in Australia can produce chemicals called triterpenoid saponins that inhibit tumour growth. More bioprospecting needs to be done!
This plant is raised as an ornamental plant, as a shade tree and it is also raised on plantations for fuelwood throughout southeast Asia, Oceania and in Sudan. Its wood is good for making paper, furniture and tools. It contains tannin useful in animal hide tanning. In India, its wood and charcoal are widely used for fuel. Gum from the tree is sold commercially, but it is said not to be as useful as gum arabic. The tree is used to make an analgesic by indigenous Australians. Extracts of Acacia auriculiformis heartwood inhibit fungi that attack wood.
Fodder: Not widely used as fodder, but in India 1-year-old plantations are browsed by cattle. Apiculture: The flowers are a source of pollen for honey production. Fuel: A major source of firewood, its dense wood and high energy (calorific value of 4500-4900 kcal/kg) contribute to its popularity. It provides very good charcoal that glows well with little smoke and does not spark. Fibre: The wood is extensively used for paper pulp. Plantation-grown trees have been found promising for the production of unbleached kraft pulp and high-quality, neutral, sulphite semi-chemical pulp. Large-scale plantations have already been established, as in Kerala, India, for the production of pulp. Timber: The sapwood is yellow; the heartwood light brown to dark red, straight grained and reasonably durable. The wood has a high basic density (500-650 kg/m³), is fine-grained, often attractively figured and finishes well. It is excellent for turnery articles, toys, carom coins, chessmen and handicrafts. Also used for furniture, joinery, tool handles, and for construction if trees of suitable girth are available. Tannin or dyestuff: The bark contains sufficient tannin (13-25%) for commercial exploitation and contains 6-14% of a natural dye suitable for the soga-batik industry. In India, the bark is collected locally for use as tanning material. A natural dye, used in the batik textile industry in Indonesia, is also extracted from the bark. Other products: An edible mushroom, Tylopylus fellus, is common in plantations of A. auriculiformis in Thailand.
Usefullness of the plant:
Erosion control: Its spreading, superficial and densely matted root system makes A. auriculiformis suitable for stabilizing eroded land. Shade or shelter: The dense, dark-green foliage, which remains throughout the dry season, makes it an excellent shade tree. Planted to provide shelter on beaches and beachfronts.
Reclamation: The spreading, densely matted root system stabilizes eroding land. Its rapid early growth, even on infertile sites, and tolerance of both highly acidic and alkaline soils make it popular for stabilizing and revegetating mine spoils.
Soil improver: Plantations of A. auriculiformis improve soil physio-chemical properties such as water-holding capacity, organic carbon, nitrogen and potassium through litter fall. Its phyllodes provide a good, long-lasting mulch.
Nitrogen fixing: Acacia auriculiformis can fix nitrogen after nodulating with a range of Rhizobium and Bradyrhizobium strains. It also has associations with both ecto- and endo-mycorrhizal fungi.
Ornamental: It is used for shade and ornamental purposes in cities where its hardiness, dense foliage and bright yellow flowers are positive attributes.
Intercropping: The effect of intercropping with annual crops varies. Increased tree growth has been found with kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), upland rice and groundnut in Thailand; reduced growth with maize in Cameroon.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.