FoI
Gum Arabic Tree   
Foto info
Gum Arabic Tree
ative Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Gum Arabic Tree, Gum Acacia, Gum Senegal Tree • Hindi: कुम्ट्ठा Kumttha, Kumatiyo, Kumat, Kumatio • Marathi: खैर Khair • Sanskrit: Babul, Shvetakhadira
Botanical name: Acacia senegal    Family: Mimosaceae (Touch-me-not family)
Synonyms: Acacia verek

Gum Arabic Tree is a small deciduous acacia tree, native to semi-desert regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, and northwestern India. It grows to a height of 5-12m, with a trunk up to 30 cm in diameter. Thorns are placed just below the nodes, either in threes up to 7 mm long, with the middle one hooked downwards and the lateral ones curved upwards, or solitary with the laterals absent. Leaves are double-compound, up to 2.5 cm long. Leaf-axis is finely downy with 2 glands; pinnae are 6–20 pairs; leaflets are small, 7–25 pairs, rigid, leathery, smooth, linear to elliptic-oblong, ciliate on margins, pale glaucous-green, tip blunt to somewhat pointed. Flowers are borne in not very dense spikes 5–10 cm long, carried on stalks 0.7–2 cm long. Flowers are normally produced with the leaves. Sepal cup is bell-shaped, glabrous, deeply toothed. Flowers are white to yellowish, fragrant, stalkless. Pod is straight or slightly curved, retrap-shaped, 7.5–18 cm long, 2.5 cm wide, thin, light brown or gray, papery or woody, firm, smooth. The tree produces gum arabic, which is used as a food additive, in crafts, and as a cosmetic. The gum is drained from cuts in the bark, and an individual tree will yield 200 to 300 grams. Seventy percent of the world's gum arabic is produced in Sudan. Flowering: January–March.
Medicinal uses: The gum is used for soothing mucous membranes of the intestine and to treat inflammed skin. It is also reportedly used as for its astringent properties, to treat bleeding, bronchitis, diarrhea, gonorrhea, leprosy, typhoid fever and upper respiratory tract infections.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed at Ridge, Delhi.
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