Spiny weed; but is it?

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Flowers of the Wabi in different stages. The yellow balls are actually lots of small flowers grouped together. The yellow color comes from the pollen at the tip of lots of stamens protruding from the spheres. The Wabi has pinnate leaves which is an adaptation to dry circumstances. This leaf shape will keep the leaf cooler, hence minimizes water loss. When it gets too harsh the leaves will even close in order to minimize expensive water loss.

The species I would like to put in the spotlights in this article is regarded by lots of people as a nasty, unwanted weed, that needs to be eradicated as soon as possible. True, its spines are long, hard and sharp, and it will pop up the moment you ‘clean’ a piece of land. But that is exactly what makes the Cossie (Acacia tortuosa), locally known as the Wabi, so special as part of the local ecology.

The tree is a true pioneer. It will, together with a few hardy species specialized in the same way of life, like the Rock sage – Welensali (Croton flavens) and the Devil’s trumpet – Yerba stinki (Datura metel), colonize a bare piece of land. These pioneers initiate what is known as an ecological succession, a process during which these pioneers will be replaced over time by other species until the natural system at that location reaches a climax. This process takes quite some time, more than 100 years. Without the pioneers responsible for the first soil formation and the necessary shadow for less hardy seedlings of the plants that have to take over, succession would be impossible.

Seedpods of the Wabi. These will turn brown when ripe.

If your senses are honed to the smells of nature, you can instantly tell when a loader has been busy destroying these pioneers, somewhere upwind of your location. The wood of this tree smells quite peculiar and recognizable when cut. I hate that smell, not because I don’t like it but because I loathe haphazard destruction.

The Wabi, besides its role in nature, can be a nice addition to any garden. It doesn’t need any watering to survive and grow. It provides lots of shade, especially if you consistently prune the tree on the undersides. This way you’ll guide it to become a pretty magnificent sun shade. When it flowers you’ll be treated by the beautiful yellow balls that attract even more wildlife. And can you imagine that some wildlife even eats those spiny branches?

 

 

It looks like she enjoys it, but keeping the eyes closed seems like a good idea.

Leon Pors

About Leon Pors

One Response to “Spiny weed; but is it?”

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  1. Mary-Ann Ray says:

    Look how beautyful Aruba has made them look infront of their Hotels.