This is a large tree with luxuriant, light green foliage, making
it ideal for a big garden, avenue or park. It is also valued by
galpinii is a deciduous tree, losing its leaves during the southern
African winter (April-July). It is fast-growing and can reach 25-30
m. Creamy to light yellow flowers appear during the growing season
(September-October). Reddish to purplish brown pods ripen during
February-March. Acacia galpinii is often confused with Acacia
polyacantha from which it can be distinguished by the gland
on the leaf stalk: small in A. galpinii and large in A.
Monkey-thorn grows naturally in open, wooded grassland, open woodland
and often near streams. It is indigenous to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi,
northern and eastern Botswana and South Africa. In South Africa,
Acacia galpinii occurs naturally in Limpopo [Northern Province]
and the North-West. It is seen as an indicator of sweet veld, which
retains its nutritional value in winter.
The name Acacia is derived from the Greek word 'akis', meaning
a point or a spike, referring to the thorns in many Acacia
species. The South African species are armed with spines. Most of
introduced species from Australia are spineless. The species was
named in honour of Ernest Galpin (1854-1941), a plant collector.
Monkeys like taking cover in its wide branches and may also eat
the pods and seeds, hence the common name.
There are about 1 340 species in this genus of which 954 are indigenous
to Australia, 230 to the Americas, 129 to Africa and some species
scattered in Asia. This very large, pan-tropical genus occurs mainly
in dry country.
Ecology and uses
Many insects such as bees and wasps visit the flowers. Ripe
fruit pods burst open, releasing the seeds. Seeds are also dispersed
by animals eating the pods.
galpinii is one of the trees that can survive hot and dry conditions.
It makes a stunning tree along roads where there is enough space.
It is an ideal tree for a big garden. In the wild the plant is grazed
and used for shade during the hot summer by different animals including
giraffe, kudu and elephant. Many birds often prefer nesting in this
tree as it provides protection. It provides dappled shade on hot
summer days, making it an ideal tree for planting on a lawn where
some sun can penetrate.
Growing Acacia galpinii
Monkey-thorn is easy to propagate from seed that is
not parasitized. Like other plants belonging to the Fabaceae, seed
of this tree must be soaked in hot water overnight and then sown
the next day. Seed must be sown in a seedling tray filled with river
sand. To avoid unnecessary moisture loss, the seed can be covered
with vermiculite. Seedlings are fairly fast-growing but must be
protected from frost probably for the first growing season. Although
it is frost-tolerant, severe frost often kills off tender young
branches. The tree prefers full sun. Do not plant it too close to
buildings as it has extensive roots.
- TIMBERLAKE, J., FAGG, C. & BARNES, R. 1998. Field guide
to the acacias of Zimbabwe. CBC Publishing, Zimbabwe.
- VAN WYK, B. & VAN WYK, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of
southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
- VENTER, F. & VENTER, J-A. 1996. Making the most of indigenous
trees. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
- COATES PALGRAVE, K. 2002. Trees of southern Africa. Struik Publishers,
Pretoria National Botanical Garden