Africa's Indigenous Trees - 4 -

Africa’s greatest plain, The Serengeti, provides unique flora. One of several journeys I have undertaken to this special region of Africa, I came across this specific tree – it does not occur in Southern Africa so it was of real  interest to me as I happen to love acacia tree – there are over approx 150 species on the continent of Africa. 

 Whistling ThornAcacia depranolobium

As I drove across from the Ngorongoro Crater down into the Plains of Africa towards the Serengeti I noted this unique species of acacia.

As you can see form the photograph I took it actually has “swollen hollow galls at the base of the larger spine”, and when the wind blows creates a whistling sound – hence the name whistling thorn! These galls are inhabited by a species of stinging ant which feeds on “extra-floral nectaries scattered along the the tree, which resemble flowers.”

 

Here’s A Few Interesting Points

When a browsing animal such as a giraffe feeds on this tree the ants reveal themselves after a period of time from within the galls to attack the browser, in this way it keeps the animals moving so they don’t devour the entire tree. Thus a symbiotic relationship between the tree and ants occurs.

They are dominant tree in some areas of upland  areas of East Africa, “sometimes forming a nearly monoculture woodland, especially on “black cotton” soils of impeded drainage with high clay content”.

 Interesting Uses

* Fencing, tool handles, and other implements.

* The branches used for kindling

*The gum collected and used as glue.

* A sustainable source for fuel wood and charcoal. 

Reference:

Wikipedia

“Serengeti National Park”, by V Roodt 

Photos:

Julie A M Edwards 

Giraffe on the Plains by Asillia

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