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Plants: Species Collection: Acacias

Since ancient times, acacias have been an important part of human history, not just for their shade, waterproof wood, gum arabic, and pleasant scent, but also, in the Middle East at least, for their reputed oracular and magical powers. Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, used acacias for her oracles. Jehovah, the Hebrew god, had his sacred Ark of the Covenant built from acacia wood. And acacias played a significant role in the resurrection of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld.


About 800 species of Acacia shrubs and trees inhabit the Earth's warmer climes, especially temperate parts of Australia, where the trees are called wattles. Because of their usefulness, both ornamental and industrial, acacias are cultivated in many areas where they are not native.


The San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park have long cultivated acacias for their beauty, their shade, and because they are popular browse for many of our hoofed animals. We grow 38 taxa of acacia,s and they are one of our accredited plant collections. You can see a variety of acacias throughout Elephant Odyssey at the Zoo, and Nairobi Village and African Outpost at the Park.