Red Acacia / Shittah

Acacia seyal
(Acacia hockii)

Luaa or Mugaa, Acacia seyal, Eldoret, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed in a pasture area near Eldoret, Kenya. January 2012. I am reasonable certain ot this plant's identification. Some authorities have moved this and related acacias to Vachellia.

galls on seed pods of Acacia seyal, Eldoret, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

The developing seed pods play host to one or more species of gall-causing insects. The swollen pod segments may be strangely hirsute or else bright red and are probably caused by the larvae of chalcidoid wasps less than 2 mm long. On a future trip I hope to collect some galls and examine the emerging insects. Eldoret, December 2012.

The larvae of several Lepidoptera (butterflies and Moths) may be encountered eating the leaves. A type of tussuck moth larva is shown below. Follow thumb-link for more information about this associate of Acacia seyal.

larva stage of a tussock moth, Lymantriidae, Kenya, Africa.

FLOWERS: Yellow-orange flowers small and densely packed into spherical clusters. Color is from the stamen filaments.

SHRUB or TREE: Scrubby plant on rangeland. Typically trees have reddish, powdery bark, but some varieties have greenish-yellow and peeling bark bark. This was once used to distinguish A. hockii from A. seyal. Left undisturbed it reaches tree size.

LEAVES: Leaves are twice compound with the ultimate segments quite small so the leaves appear feathery.

RANGE: This plant is native, but because it is resistant to cattle and goats it is often abundant in poorly managed pastures. Found at mid elevations up to 2000m.

FRUIT: The bean pods are slender and flattened. The seeds remain attached to the pods by slender threads for a while after it splits opens.

ARMED. The paired, straight spines are variable in length and typically gray to white in color.

close view of bark, Acacia seyal, Eldoret, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens  foliage and flowers of Acacia hockii, photo © Michael Plagens

Fabaceae -- Bean Family -- Mimosoideae - Mimosa Sub-Family

More Information:

Camponotus visiting buds on Acacia seyal, vicinity of Eldoret, Kenya. Photo © by Michael Plagens

Ants, such as the Carpenter Ant above, play a role in this and other acacias dominance on overgrazed pastures. The ants get sweet sustanence from glands on new buds and help defend the plant from herbivorous insects.

Kenya Natural History

Michael J. Plagens, Created on 10 September 2012,
updated 9 October 2017.