Acacia

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About 1,300; see List of Acacia species

Acacia (pronounced /əˈkeɪʃə/) is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian Acacias are not. They are pod-bearing, with sap and leaves typically bearing large amounts of tannins and condensed tannins that historically in many species found use as pharmaceuticals and preservatives.

The generic name derives from ακακία (akakia), the name given by early Greek botanist-physician Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40-90) to the medicinal tree A. nilotica in his book Materia Medica.[2] This name derives from the Greek word for its characteristic thorns, ακις (akis, thorn).[3] The species name nilotica was given by Linnaeus from this tree's best-known range along the Nile river.

Acacias are also known as thorntrees, whistling thorns or wattles, including the yellow-fever acacia and umbrella acacias.

Until 2005, there were thought to be roughly 1300 species of acacia worldwide, about 960 of them native to Australia, with the remainder spread around the tropical to warm-temperate regions of both hemispheres, including Europe, Africa, southern Asia, and the Americas. However, the genus was then divided into five, with the name Acacia retained for the Australian species, and most of the species outside Australia divided into Vachellia and Senegalia.

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