Acacia mellifera

Blackthorn, Acacia mellifera, Lake Bogoria, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed near the shores of Lake Bogoria, Rift Valley, Kenya, Africa. October 2010. Look closely and you will see at least two arthropods in this photo. The leaf with the pale spot has a leaf miner at the center of the mine. Suspended by silk is a small spider. Native plants typically host many kinds of animals, large and small.

Pods containing bean seeds of Blackthorn, Acacia mellifera, photo © Michael Plagens

Visitors to Lake Bogoria National Park pass many honey vendors along the roads leading to the entrance. The sweet flowers of this shrub are a major source of the nectar the bees collect to make honey. Twigs are gray and beset with pairs of sharp curved spines. The leaves are twice compound, but the leaflets are rather large and few in number being close to 2 cm in diameter. Seeds are inside flattened pods that may be twisted. The flowers (not shown) are whitish and packed into 4 cm long spikes.

Blackthorn is native shrub (rarely a small tree) to mostly dry savanna areas through much of Africa. The wood is used for making charcoal, but this practice also strips the land of needed forage for wild animals, flowers for bees, and many herbivorous insects that ultimately feed Kenya's diverse bird populations.

Fabaceae -- Bean Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 7 February 2011.