Acacia angustissima


Scientific name

Scientific name
Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze

Subordinate taxa:
Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze var. angustissima
Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze var. suffrutescens (Rose) Isely
Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze var. texensis (Torr. & A. Gray) Isely

Acacia boliviana Rusby
Acacia villosa (Sw.) Willd

The closely related species Acacia boliviana and A. villosa have similar habit , environmental adaptation and productivity to A. angustissima , and the three species are often confused botanically.  For these reasons, information relating to A. boliviana and A. villosa is included in this fact sheet.

Synonyms

Mimosa angustissima Mill.
Senegalia angustissima (Mill.) Pedley
Acacia angustissima subsp. suffrutescens (Rose) Wiggins
Acacia suffrutescens (Rose)
Acacia texensis Torr. & A. Gray

Family/tribe

Family: Fabaceae (alt. Leguminosae) subfamily: Mimosoideae tribe: Acacieae. Also placed in: Mimosaceae.

Common names

Chisos prairie acacia, Shreve's prairie acacia, prairie acacia, prairie wattle, white-ball acacia.

Morphological description

A thornless shrub or small tree, 2–7 m high with a single short trunk.  Variable in pubescence from almost none to short, appressed hairs, on the branchlets.  Also variable in size and venation of the leaflets and size of flowers.  Leaves bipinnate, predominantly asymmetric with a displaced mid-vein, 10–25 cm long, with 10–20 pairs of pinnae.  Inflorescences ellipsoidal with whitish heads 1–1.5 cm in diameter, turning pinkish to dull orange when dry.  Pods very thin-walled, papery, oblong , 3–6 cm long and 6–9 mm wide, with straight or sinuate margins, initially green, turning coffee-brown when ripe.  Seed production is prolific.  Seed weight is 90,000–100,000 seeds/kg.

Distribution

Native to:
A. angustissima, A. villosa
North America:  Mexico, United States (Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas).
Mesoamerica:  Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua.
Caribbean:  Barbados, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St Vincent & Grenadines.
A. boliviana
South America :  Argentina, Bolivia.

A. angustissima and A. villosa are the most widely distributed of the neo-tropical Acacia species, occurring from Colombia north through Mexico.  A. angustissima also extends into southern USA.

Uses/applications

As a dry season forage and green manureA. angustissima , A. boliviana and A. villosa have been under evaluation throughout the tropics as dry season forages over the past 20 years.  In Zimbabwe, however, they are not “dry season forages” as such, because there is much leaf drop (nearly all by end of the dry season), so it is utilized in the wet season or conserved as leaf meal.  They have become important forages in a limited number of locations.
A. angustissima (possibly A. villosa ) is used as a fallow species in Timor, Indonesia, and Zimbabwe (experimentally) to restore soil fertility in dryland cropping systems.  Also used for fuelwood.

Ecology

Soil requirements

Grows on free-draining acid soils in its native range.  Adapted to a wide range of soils including vertisols of slightly alkaline pH .

Moisture

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In the native range, annual rainfall varies from 800–3,000 mm.  Withstands moderate periods of drought , retaining its leaf through the 8-month dry season in eastern Indonesia.

Temperature

It grows naturally from near sea level to 2,800 m in environments where mean temperatures range from 25–30°C.  Shows better growth potential at the higher elevations and moderate temperatures.  It tolerates cold climates once established (occasional temperatures below freezing).

Light

Unknown.  May have moderate shade tolerance being native to oak/pine forests.

Reproductive development

Flowers throughout the year in its natural range, and at the end of the dry season in trials in Zimbabwe.

Defoliation

Highly tolerant of repeated defoliation .

Fire

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Tolerant of annual burning of rangelands once mature.

Agronomy

Establishment

Can be direct seeded or grown from transplanted seedlings.  Spacings vary with purpose and farming system.  For hedgerows in cropping systems or open pastures, plant at 0.5 m spacings into rows 3–8 m apart.  Fodder banks have been planted at 1 x 2 m and 2 x 2 m spacings, for example.  When direct seeding, sow seed on the surface of cultivated soil and cover with a layer of soil equal to the width of the seed.  Weed control is essential for successful establishment.  Under favourable conditions, A. angustissima can grow to a height of 5 m and 6 cm in diameter in 2½ years.
Scarification may improve germination.  Seed pre-treatment of 12 hours soaking in cool water prior to sowing has also improved germination.  In other trials hot water treatment for 10–15 secs at 80–90ºC resulted in 97–100% germination, whereas >20 secs or hotter water (straight off the boil) decreased germination percentage.

Fertiliser

Responds well to fertiliser when grown on acid-infertile soils.  Fertilizer application resulted in a 7-fold increase in crown volume of trees grown on acid soils in Hawaii.  Nodulation has also been significantly improved with K and P fertilization.

Compatibility (with other species)

Compatible with a wide range of native and exotic pasture grasses.  Limited palatability may result in excessive growth of A.angustissima and shading of understorey species.

Companion species

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In an alley cropping system intercropped with sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) in Papua New Guinea, A. angustissima provided enough N, P and K for the crop, but inhibited the tuber yield due to the rapid tree growth, which shaded the crop.

Pests and diseases

In its native habitat, A. angustissima is eaten by the larvae of the acacia skipper butterfly, Cogia hippalus, and by the moth larva of Sphingicampa blanchardi and S. raspa.
Resistant to attack from the Chinese rose beetle in Hawaii.

Ability to spread

Will spread under grazing if not regularly controlled.  (See "Weed potential").

Weed potential

The ability to tolerate repeated coppicing, in combination with its prolific seed production, rapid growth and low palatability to ruminant livestock has enabled A. angustissima to become a weed in its native range and in exotic locations, forming thickets along roadsides and on free-draining soils in rangelands.  Extreme caution should be exercised in introducing A. angustissima to exotic environments.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

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In sacco digestibility of only 48% (after 48 hours), moderate condensed tannin concentrations (6–11%) and low palatability render A. angustissima a low quality forage .  Despite this, it is an important dry season feed in some seasonally dry environments.  Nutritive quality is higher for ruminants adapted to A. angustissima , as adapted rumen flora degrade toxic compounds, however moderate concentrations of highly astringent condensed tannins limit intake and digestibility.
In Ethiopia, indicators of reasonable nutritive quality (in vitro gas production, in situ DM degradation and IVDMD ) were reported when A. angustissima was fed as a mixed supplement with Sesbania sesban .

Palatability/acceptability

Reports conflict, but generally considered to be of low to moderate palatability.  Very low palatability in some areas of Indonesia but moderate in Zimbabwe (in short-term trials).  Moderate palatability of A. boliviana in short-term trials in Australia.  A. villosa , in Timor, Indonesia, has shown moderate palatability .

Toxicity

Contains approximately 6–11% of anti-nutritive condensed tannins.  Also contains toxic compounds such as low molecular weight phenolic compounds and non-protein amino acids.

Production potential

Dry matter

Highly productive in favourable, seasonally dry environments, producing 10–12 t/ha/year DM.  On acid-infertile soils in high rainfall environments in northern Australia and Indonesia, it produced up to 13 t/ha/year in unfertilised small plots.  In less favourable environments it has produced over 2 t/ha/year.  Although not universally true, its ability to retain leaf throughout long dry seasons is particularly important (see comment in Uses/applications).  At 2 sites in Zimbabwe, annual forage yields increased from approximately 1.0 t/ha in the planting year to 3.5 and 5.0 t/ha in the second and third years following establishment.

Animal production

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Genetics/breeding

No breeding programs are being undertaken.  A large number of accessions/provenances from across the native range are held by ILRI.

Seed production

A. angustissima is generally a prolific seed producer.  At lowland sites (20 m asl ) in Papua New Guinea, A. angustissima flowered but did not seed, while at higher elevation (1,650 m) it seeded prolifically.

Herbicide effects

Can be controlled using basal bark or cut-stump applications of tree -killing herbicides such as fluroxypyr, triclopyr or trichlopyr + picloram.  Seedlings can be controlled using complete foliar sprays of fluroxypyr.

Strengths

  • High dry matter production in harsh environments.
  • Tolerant of acid infertile soils.
  • Tolerant of regular coppicing .
  • High CP content.

Limitations

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  • Contains moderate quantities of condensed tannins, non-protein amino acids and other anti-nutritive and toxic compounds.
  • Will not support high liveweight gains in ruminants.
  • Nutrient release from green manure is slow.

Other comments

Benefits of green manure to crops are only realised in the second crop following application because leaf protein is bound in complexes with condensed tannins, resulting in the slow release of N for crop growth.

Selected references

Bray, R.A., Palmer, B. and Ibrahim, T.M. (1997) Performance of shrub legumes at four sites in Indonesia and Australia. Tropical Grasslands, 31, 31–39.
Gutteridge, R.C. Other species of multipurpose forages tree legumes. In: Forage Tree Legumes in Tropical Agriculture . Gutteridge, R.C. and Shelton, H.M. (eds). pp. 97–198. (CAB International, Wallingford, UK).
Odenyo, A.A., Osuji, P.O., Reed, J.D., Smith, A.H., Mackie, R.I., McSweeney, C.S. and Hanson, J. 2003. Acacia angustissima : Its anti-nutrients constituents, toxicity and possible mechanisms to alleviate the toxicity- a short review. Agroforestry Systems (The Netherlands), 54(3), 141-147.
Preece, D. and Brook, R. (2001) Acacia angustissima : A promising species for agroforestry ? In: Roshetko, J.M. (ed.) Agroforestry species and Technologies. pp. 9–10. (Winrock International, Taiwan, China).

Internet links

Cultivars

Cultivars

Country/date released

Details

No cultivars have been officially released.      

Promising accessions

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Promising accessions

Country

Details

CPI 40175 (A. boliviana )
Australia and Zimbabwe Moderate palatability to grazing cattle in research trials in tropical Australia.  Research not continued due to perceived weed risk.  Under nutritional evaluation in Zimbabwe.
CPI 84998 (A. angustissima ) and CPI 40175 (A. boliviana ) Australia and Indonesia Highest yielding of 21 accessions from 8 genera evaluated for agronomic performance on acid-infertile soils in humid tropical environments in northern Australia and Sumatra, Indonesia.
ILRI 15132 (A. angustissima ) Ethiopia Best of the ILRI accessions in terms yield and agronomic adaptation.  Used experimentally as a forage supplement.
ILRI 469 (A. angustissima ) (ex Belize) Zimbabwe Excellent forage production in Zimbabwe.