Previously known as the Acacia tortilis, the Umbrella thorn is an extremely drought resistant tree that occurs naturally throughout South Africa. It has the classic, umbrella-shaped canopy associated with thorn trees and features in many images of the African landscape.
Reaching a height of 3 – 5 m and even up to 20 m in ideal climatic conditions, the slow growing Umbrella thorn generally has a spread of 8 – 13 m. The bark of the tree is grey to black or brownish-black and has a rough texture. Semi-deciduous, the leaves are small and feathery with a bright green colour. Flowers take the form of creamy, white balls and are produced during summer, dependant on rainfall. The two most distinctive characteristics of the Umbrella thorn are the pods and thorns.
Pods are a pale, golden brown colour and are curled and twisted in shape, unlike other Acacia species. These pods are sought after as fodder by wild and domestic animals. The young thorns are also browsed together with the leaves. In older trees the thorns are sharp and white, preventing over-browsing and providing safe nesting spots for different bird species. Straight and hooked thorns appear on the tree, thus the name ‘Haak-en-steek’ in Afrikaans.
The Umbrella thorn is a hardy, versatile tree that is wildlife friendly and will beautify your landscape.