isiXhosa: umuNga

Afrikaans: Soetdoring

Sweet thorn


Sweet thorn

Vachellia karroo

Scientific name

It is a shrub or small to medium-sized tree which grows to height of 12m. Acacia karroo has a rounded crown, branching fairly low down on the trunk. It is variable in shape and size, reaching a maximum of about 12m where there is good water. The bark is red on young branches, darkening and becoming rough with age. Sometimes an attractive reddish colour can be seen in the deep bark fissures. The leaves are finely textured and dark green. The abundant yellow flowers appear in early summer, or after good rains. The seed pods are narrow, flat and crescent shaped. They are green when young becoming brown and dry. The pods split open allowing the seeds to fall to the ground. The thorns are paired, greyish to white and are long and straight

Acacia karroo has a life span of 30-40 years and is an adaptable pioneer, able to establishing itself without shade, shelter or protection from grass fires. Once over a year old, seedlings can resprout after fire. Several fungi are associated with this tree and the crown of mature trees may be parasitized by various mistletoes, leading to the tree's decline. This tree has a long taproot which enables it to use water and nutrients from deep underground, this and its ability to fix nitrogen, lead to grasses and other plants thriving in its shade.

Tree wood, gum, pollen, bark has several uses, including wound, eye and cold treatments, leather tanning, pollen for honey bees and woodwork.

Also known as Acacia karroo

References and further reading

PlantZAfrica profile »

Wikipedia page »

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
We currently have no seeds of this species in our seedbanks. Do you have any seeds or do you know where we can get some? Get in touch!
We currently have no plants of this species in our home nurseries. Do you have any plants or do you know where we can get some? Get in touch!

This table below shows how many plants we are trying to obtain for this species.

Site Area Quantity
Site #12 Delft 2
Site #13 Delft 1
Site #18 Rosebank 1
Total 4

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We are in need of this species! Can you help? Maybe you have this species at home, or perhaps you can collect seeds or cuttings (if applicable) from friends or from a public space. If so, why don't you help establish this species in areas where it is much needed!

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Important characteristics

This species was selected because it has various important characteristics.

It provides medicinal value

This species is not very suitable to be grown in bare terrain. However, if other vegetation is already established then it makes a good addition. After a year of care, little watering will be necessary.

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