Africa's Indigenous Trees - 4 -

Africa’s greatest plains, 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,  as I happen to love acacia trees – there are over approx 100 species on the continent of Africa.

Whistling ThornAcacia depranolobium

As I traversed 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 from the photograph, it actually has “swollen hollow galls, located  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.



“Serengeti National Park”, by V Roodt


Julie A M Edwards

Giraffe on the Plains by Asillia

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