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Location

  • San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

Species Collection

Gardens

Plants: Species

Acacia: African Thorn Acacia or Fever Tree Acacia xanthophloea

FAMILY: FABACEAE (Bean Family)

With a genus name that literally means "sharp point," acacias are both beautiful and a bit dangerous. The spines of the African thorn acacia or fever tree Acacia xanthophloea, for instance, can be two to three inches long and needle sharp. This species is also called the fever tree, as it grows in marshy areas and along riverbanks where mosquitoes breed, and became associated with malaria. But it's the mosquitoes that carry the disease, not the trees!

Some acacias, such as the fever tree, have medicinal properties. In the past, graduate students from San Diego State University obtained bark, roots, and leaves from the San Diego Zoo's fever trees to research possible breast cancer cures.