Acacia (/əˈkeɪʃə/ or /əˈkeɪsiə/), also known as a thorntree, whistling thorn or wattle, is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, described by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773 based on the African species Acacia nilotica. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not. All species are pod-bearing, with sap and leaves often bearing large amounts of tannins and condensed tannins that historically found use as pharmaceuticals, preservatives, and dyes for leather and other material. Acacia is used in the perfume industry due to its strong fragrance. The use of Acacia as a fragrance dates back centuries.
The generic name derives from ἀκακία (akakia), the name given by early Greek botanist-physician Pedanius Dioscorides (middle to late first century) to the medicinal tree A. nilotica in his book Materia Medica. This name derives from the Greek word for its characteristic thorns, ἀκίς (akis; “thorn”). The species name nilotica was given by Linnaeus from this tree’s best-known range along the Nile river. The genus Acacia previously contained roughly 1300 species, 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, in 2005 the genus was divided into five separate genera under the tribe “Acacieae.”
The genus Acacia was retained for the majority of the Australian species and a few in tropical Asia, Madagascar and Pacific Islands. Most of the species outside Australia, and a small number of Australian species, were reclassified into Vachellia and Senegalia. The two final genera, Acaciella and Mariosousa, each contain about a dozen species from the Americas.
The Acacia is used as a symbol in Freemasonry, to represent purity and endurance of the soul, and as funerary symbolism signifying resurrection and immortality. The tree gains its importance from the description of the burial of Hiram Abiff, who provided some of the builders for King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Egyptian mythology has associated the acacia tree with characteristics of the tree of life, such as in the Myth of Osiris and Isis. Several parts (mainly bark, root and resin) of Acacia are used to make incense for rituals. Acacia is used in incense mainly in India, Nepal, and China including in its Tibet region. Smoke from Acacia bark is thought to keep demons and ghosts away and to put the gods in a good mood. Roots and resin from Acacia are combined with rhododendron, acorus, cytisus, salvia and some other components of incense. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the Acacia tree may be the “burning bush” (Exodus 3:2) which Moses encountered in the desert. Also, when God gave Moses the instructions for building the Tabernacle, he said to “make an ark ” and “a table of acacia wood” (Exodus 25:10 & 23, Revised Standard Version). Also, in the Christian tradition, it is thought that Christ’s crown of thorns was woven from acacia. In Russia, Italy, and other countries it is customary to present women with yellow mimosas (among other flowers) on International Women’s Day (March 8). These “mimosas” are actually from Acacia.
As Buy Acacia’s intial idea started to take on it’s own life we decided to introduce other rare ethnobotanicals and biomimicry based grow systems into our inventory. After finding that the name Acacia meant “Honorable” in Greek, we felt our new additions and name meaning took on awhole new light.
Did you know?
The Tabernacle Moses built to house the Ark of the Covenant was made of Acacia wood!