Acacia Trees of Botswana

The dominant woodland species in the south and central regions of Botswana in its several forms are camel thorn, black thorn and some other acacias. In the more kindly north, the acacia gives way to ironwood, mopane, silver leaf, marula and in the northern parts of Makgadikgadi Pans, to the baobab. Over 3,000 species of plants have been recorded in Botswana, 650 of which are woody plants.

The Camelthorn is synonymous with Botswana and, like everywhere else in the country, very common in Moremi and the Okavango Delta. The dark, blue-green canopy and the black branches sharply silhouetted against the straw-coloured grass make for yet another of the most striking landscapes to be found in Botswana.

When the Candle-pod acacia was first described by a Motswana, it was called the 'House of the Lion'. It was appropriately named, as lions are frequently noticed resting beneath the low-reaching branches of this species. The outer branches reach to the ground, leaving the area around the trunk open and thus providing a cool, perfectly concealed resting place. Another distinguishing factor is the very conspicuous, upright, candle-like pods. Their persistence on the tree makes identification easy for most months of the year.

The Knobthorn can even be easily identified by the layman with its conspicuous knobs on the trunk and branches. It is one of the few trees that are easily identifiable whilst devoid of foliage, which state it is in for a great deal of the year. This species is usually the first to announce the arrival of spring, and most dramatic announcement it is. The mundane winter landscape is instantly transformed into a sweetly scented environment, splashed with the delicate, pale colour of the flowers of the Knobthorn tree. The flowers appear before the leaves and they are borne in such profusion that the whole tree becomes creamy-white and very conspicuous.