English (river acacia); Somali (burra,bura); Swahili (mgunga)
Acacia elatior is a tall, evergreen, riverine tree, 7-40 m tall; crown rounded
or flattish; bark brown to almost black, deeply fissured; stipular spines of 2
kinds in pairs at the nodes - shorter, 7 mm, brown, sometimes, curved
spines, alternating with longer spines, which may reach 9 cm and are
straight, white, with a swollen base; the larger spines are sometimes
inflated to about 6 (max. 15) mm across; trunk is large, and young twigs
Leaves with 5-13 pairs of pinnae; leaflets in (min. 7) 13-25 pairs, 1.2-4 x
0.5-1.4 mm, small and narrow, glabrous or ciliate; petiole 3-10 mm; petiole
and rachis glands absent.
Flowers in round heads, greenish-white or white to very pale yellow;
involucel small, about 1/3 along length of peduncle.
Fruits are brown to purplish-brown pods, straight or slightly falcate,
narrowly oblong, 3.5-12 x 1.2-1.8 cm, tapering at the tip, papery texture,
dehiscent; seeds olive-brown, subcircular, 6-7 mm in diameter, thin,
In Kenya, two subspecies are recogized namely subs. elatior and subs.
The generic name ‘acacia’ comes from the Greek word ‘akis’, meaning a
point or a barb.
A. elatior is a hermaphroditic species.