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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Black Monkey Thorn

Afrikaans name: Swartapiesdoring

Black Monkey Thorn at Berg-en-Dal Camp, Kruger National Park

Black Monkey Thorn tree at Berg-en-dal Camp in Kruger National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

Acacia burkei

The Black Monkey Thorn tree grows to a height of 12 metres or more. Some trees may reach 30 metres making this one of the larger Acacia trees. It is fairly common in wooded grassland in the north-eastern quarter of South Africa.

It gets its yellowish-white flowers in Spring. They are borne on thin white spikes which can be up to 8.5 cm in length. These are followed by seedpods which can be up to 16 cm in length. The seedpods are reddish-brown in colour. When ripe they are blackish in colour and they open whilst still on the tree. There are small brownish or blackish hooked thorns by the leaves. To make identification of this tree more complex there are two forms of it. One has a round crown and large leaves while the other form is flat-topped with small leaves.

Larger mammals such as Elephant and Giraffe browse on the leaves of the Black Monkey Thorn. The tree secretes nectar and bees in particular are attracted to its flowers.

The wood of this tree is heavy and used to make furniture and other household items. The Black Monkey Thorn tree appears to be a popular tree for bonsai with many websites offering seeds.

Black Monkey Thorn at Berg-en-Dal Camp, Kruger National Park

Black Monkey Thorn bark

Photo © Steven Herbert

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References and further reading

Everyone's Guide to Trees of South Africa - Author: Keith, Paul and Meg Coates Palgrave - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 34

Field Guide to the Acacias of South Africa - Author: Nico Smit - Year Published: 2008 - Page: 82

Field Guide to the Trees of the Kruger National Park - Author: Piet van Wyk - Year Published: 2008 - Page: 60

Sappi Tree Spotting: KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape - Author: Val Thomas and Rina Grant - Year Published: 2004? - Page: 206

The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei - Author: Elsa Pooley - Year Published: 1994 - Page: 126

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Year Published: 2002 - Page: 276

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