Acacia is a spreading, usually short tree with spines and
alternate compound leaves (leaves divided into leaflets). Its
individual leaflets are small. The flowers are ball-shaped, bright
yellow, and very fragrant. Its bark is a whitish-gray color.
Its fruits are usually dark brown and pod like (green or red
Habitat and Distribution
Acacia grows best in open, sunny areas, and is found throughout
all tropical regions. (We find it here in the deserts of Arizona
There are about 500 species of acacia. These plants are especially
prevalent in Africa, southern Asia, and Australia, but many species
are found in the warmer and drier parts of America.
Its young leaves, flowers, and pods are edible raw or cooked.
In several Asian countries, including Burma and Thailand,
the new shoots of Acacia pennata are used in soups, curries,
omelettes, and stir-fried dishes.
Known as guajes or huajes, the flat seed pods are eaten in
Mexico. They are eaten raw with guacamole and sometimes cooked
into a sauce. When dried and toasted and salted they are called
"cacalas" and eaten as a snack.
Interestingly, acacia has quite a few commercial uses. It
can be found listed as an ingredient many foods and drinks, including
Fresca, RC Cola, Barq's root beer, Altoids mints, and some chewing