Acacia erioloba (*)
Acacia erioloba E.Mey.
Acacia erioloba (formerly Acacia giraffae), is also commonly known as the Camel Thorn, Kameeldoring (Afrikaans), Giraffe Thorn or Mokala (Tswana). The Mokala National Park in the Northern Cape is named after this tree.
It is a thorn acacia native to the drier parts of Southern Africa. Its preferred habitat are the arid deep sandy soils. It occurs in the Transvaal, western Free State, northern Cape Province, Botswana, the western areas of Zimbabwe and northern Namibia. It was described by William John Burchell, however Jacobus Coetse already named the tree in 1760, some 50 years earlier.
It can grow up to 17 metres high. The name refers to the fact that giraffe (kameelperd in Afrikaans) commonly graze on the hard-to-reach succulent leaves normally out of reach of smaller animals. Giraffe are partial to all acacias and manifest a specially-adapted tongue and lips that can cope with the vicious thorns. It also grows ear-shaped pods, which are favoured by a large number of herbivores including cattle. The wood is dark reddish-brown in colour and extremely dense and strong. It is slow-growing, very hardy to drought and fairly frost-resistant.
Unfortunately it is a good fuel, which leads to widespread clearing of dead trees and the felling of healthy trees. According to superstition, lightning will strike at A. erioloba more readily than other trees. It is also possible to roast the seeds to be used as a substitute for coffee beans.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License