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 Thorn – Acacia 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”.
* 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.
“Serengeti National Park”, by V Roodt
Julie A M Edwards
Giraffe on the Plains by Asillia
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